Loyal team. Loyal patients. Serving others is about getting your head in the right space.
"When Ego is lost, limit is lost.
You become infinite, kind, beautiful"
I am so happy watching the success of my family and friends.
My proud history includes helping the teams I work for perform over $1 BILLION dollars of dentistry. Having been involved in several dozen start ups, practice transitions of several dozen more.
The same way it makes you feel good to have a patient consult you for treatment. You provide your highest level of expertise, and they TRUST your opinion. Beyond accepting the treatment plan, which even included an out of pocket expense - they told friends about you.
The Dental assistant, hygienist and receptionist you opened your office with were excited and motivated to work with you! The new clinic atmosphere. They told family and friends to come check out the new digs. These people helped you build a reputation. Build your practice.
The neighborhood grows. You are involved in the community. The church. Social clubs. You enroll your kids in soccer, hockey, swimming. Engage other families.
ALL OF US intertwine business and personal. Fuck that saying "it's just business!" that's a scapegoat cliche saying for people who don't want to have REAL relationships...
In the many years I have worked in this business, I have watched as some clinics grow into wild success quickly. Others take a little longer, but with determination - they "get there". There are other businesses that never seem to be able to get past that hump. Struggling to keep patients, struggling to attract new patients. Team members leave and they are constantly faced with a shortage of qualified employees.....
Are you a successful failure?
Have you ever fixed someone else's bad dentistry?
Have you ever lost a patient to another office?
Has a valued team member accepted an offer to work for another office unexpectedly....
You are SO SURE the patient left because of a team member. Or the treatment plan from the other office was probably not what they really needed - but was just cheaper. Or they couldn't book at night or on the weekend. The shitty materials that rep provided made the filling fail. Every reason except the one that is the most likely possibility....because doesn't it all just fall on you anyways? Have you read my blog "the blame game"?
Talking to strangers....what we should know...
In Malcolm Gladwell new book "Talking to Strangers" the author states
"When we don’t know someone, or can’t communicate with them, or don’t have the time to understand them properly, we believe we can make sense of them through their behavior and demeanor"
The point of the book is we are HORRIBLE understanding strangers. We tend to make assumptions based on our own feelings. The other person MUST be feeling this or thinking that because that's how we would feel or act.
We THINK we know why people do what they do...but we are simply not good at it....the book makes so many good cases for the point. My many years of experience would point to the same conclusion....so now what?
Loyalty - we all struggle.
In my blog "whats the value of relationship" I discuss my own team. The interesting thing is the MAJORITY of my "competitors" are people who I used to work WITH!!
Just like that associate who left you. Or any other key team member!
It can be said they may have parted because of money. It's possible. Some people believe the grass is greener elsewhere. (Maybe it's also better if people move on if they aren't dedicated to the bigger picture!)
However - it is often not the money but the opportunity. Recognition. Appreciation. Sincerity.
Associates usually leave because of opportunity. They simply want to be independent. SO DO YOUR TEAM MEMBERS! Who doesn't want a position where they are respected and appreciated for the talent they bring?? That means sincere LISTENING to what they offer. If you didn't like what they bring to the table, then why did you hire them to begin? Did you just need a warm body and didn't put much more thought. Or is this just how you do it - and how you appreciate people? Anyone can do that job???
It wasn't in my control to help show more "appreciation" to these team members with compensation. I do believe that appreciation is about compensation to some degree - but recognition also comes from sincerity. Listening and appreciating talent. Allowing that person to write the song and sing it - and sincerely enjoy it and encourage more of it!
Most people who are appreciated, in sincere ways, including compensation will stay and try even harder. And when they do this....guess what...the business grows. More importantly - you become happier. Everyone does. Everyone wins.
I've been fired by customers. It hurts.
I think I am doing everything right - but at some stage things don't go right. It's easy to blame Henry Schein that the prices are not right (but they are). Or that the shipping department screws everything up (and it's rare). Or my service tech didn't fix something right (have you ever had a failed fix?).
Ultimately, I take the blame. I am accountable for EVERYTHING. If someone leaves me, fires me. Its my fault. Regardless of what anyone else did. I work for that company - if the price isn't right I didn't convey my message properly. Didn't work hard enough to find the right solution because I KNOW we have 190,000 answers. I didn't listen with empathy and maybe run over with an emergency item when my customer needed it most. The broken item maybe should have just been replaced and I wasn't pro active letting my customer know better options. Perhaps the fix wasn't explained as well as it should have been or it was more complicated than expected.
Or maybe I just failed and didn't live up to my end of the bargain.
In my many years I have learned to eat a lot of crow. At this point in life, I have learned to eat it quickly and even to put some salt and pepper on it to make it a tastier treat. It's a lesson that will make me better.
Without the ability to admit when you are wrong and what can be better - you will never grow.
Patients that leave have a reason. Regardless of who you want to blame - it's always worthwhile to consider your relationships and how you approach this all. Are you absolutely blameless or can you find a more predictable technique. Improve your skill. Are you able to set your ego aside and ask for help? Can you get help from your team to improve the process and experience for these patients?
The Service Solution
The CEO of Henry Schein thinks of people first. The constituents for a CEO are the customers, the team and the investors. Delivering to all three can be complicated. In order to satisfy any one of these a leader will often need to get into the trenches. Sincerely listen.
When customers are saying they don't like something, or they are looking for something better - are you able to deliver? Have you become an ever improving servant to those people who matter the most to your success and happiness?
Do you appreciate that a patient wants to have a same day crown, or a less expensive orthodontic treatment...and maybe even have that delivered in a more convenient locaiton and hey - it should be clear too.
Do we listen and try to evolve to provide a faster turnover in the chairs by reducing the chair time and improving the results. Thus resulting in less traumatic surgery visits? More comfortable and convenient times for our patients?
In my relationships - I work HARD to listen to what is wanted. Maybe more important I take the initiative to search for ways to make it better that nobody even thought of. The way someone invented UBER when taxis were doing "just fine".
My belief is we are about to go through some major transitions in DENTISTRY. It doesn't change human nature. It won't change that we WANT and NEED to work with each other. Appreciate each other. Continue to improve and help each other.
Loyalty will come to those that give a sincere effort to serve others.
What I do.
I don't think I am "all that" - but I am happy. Most people may say "I'm successful". What works for me may or may not work for you - but may be somethings to ponder....
In service of all others means I respect and learn from most everyone I meet. They are all my boss.
I recognize that any success in life is due to a service of another. The people who teach me and work with me are all a reason for success and they deserve recognition and praise.
I promise to use every gift and ability I have to become a better servant to the world. I am blessed to have the opportunities I do - and I have become an opportunity broker. Inviting others to come along and help as many people as we can.
The happiest dentists I know work with sincerity. SUCCESS follows. SUCCESS is HAPPINESS first, the money comes as well (and usually doesn't really matter nearly as much). There is a lot of care hiring the right people who think the same way. There is MUTUAL respect from the team members that don't just think of themselves but also consider service of others first.
These offices have LOYAL teams. They generate large follwings and LOYAL patients who can feel the sincerity. They know these people have their best interest and are continually keeping it interesting. Providing a better experience every time. Investing in themselves to provide even more comfortable, more affordable, more predictable dentistry.
When you take the right approach you are on the path to joining a legion of providers and making the world a better place.