Archive for Tips from The Dental Coach
Creating a Delightful Experience is a gross understatement when I describe the way Mr. Jim Lomis delivers his service. Jim is a tour guide for Lolly the Trolley, a nationally known City Sightseeing Tour company showing visiting and local guests a Cleveland they never knew existed.
To add a touch of uniqueness and fun to my recent Dr. Ron’s Client Appreciation Turkey Weekend, I hired Lolly the Trolley to entertain and delight my clients. When Lolly appeared at the edge of my driveway, we were greeted by this remarkable smile, an extended hand of welcome, and a level of enthusiasm and excitement that set the stage for THE BEST documented tour experience I had ever experienced. Jim knew Cleveland like the back of his hand and took us to places that demonstrated the vibrancy of Cleveland (yes, vibrancy) with explanations and questions that had the crowd energized, involved and wanting more.
One example is the home of the iconic movie, A Christmas Story, and he brought it to life as though we were part of the cast.
He invited questions, asked us what we wanted, showed us the unexpected, and had a refreshing positive sense of humor all while demonstrating a professionalism and service-mentality that seems to have been lost to time.
I discovered that Jim, prior to picking up 34 of us at my home, had spent considerable time on my website learning about my business, what I do, who I serve, my background, and blended all this information into his information delivery. He made frequent references to positive thinking, coaching, and, of course, the dental profession.
At our stops (Burke Lakefront airport museum and Little Italy), he interacted masterfully with all his guests, offering up additional insights about ethnic neighborhoods, great restaurants, history about the spreading of the ashes of world-famous crime fighter, Elliot Ness, over the pond at the Lakeview Cemetery, the resting place of President James A. Garfield, John D. Rockefeller and members of President Lincoln’s cabinet, to mention a few.
When he delivered us all safely home after our four-hour plus excursion, he stood at the door and personally shook passenger’s hands and thanked them for allowing him to serve. His passion for what Cleveland has to offer was addictive and had several of my clients wanting to come back for B&B weekends to experience firsthand some of the sites.
I feel our Lolly the Trolley has become the landmark tour and transportation service for northeast Ohio. More importantly, I feel Mr. Jim Lomis is an example of over and above service excellence as he created an EXPERIENCE un-experienced by most! He demonstrated to 34 people that courtesy, care and concern, blended with a warm smile, the touch of a hand and a sense of humor, costs so little and delivers so much enjoyment. Every departing guest shared with Jim how his entire service experience was above and beyond what they had ever experienced.
This is service elegance at its best!
On a recent mastermind call with seven doctors, several raised the issue of how frustrating it is to get team members to follow through on requests. They discussed how systems were instituted and implemented for some period of time and then a team member unilaterally decides to no longer follow the prescribed protocol only to find the doctor incredulous!
When I asked them how they acknowledged their team members when they did follow through on established office systems, I heard…
“That’s their job and they should know to follow instructions. Why do I need to pamper them?”
I suggested that the #1 frustration I hear from dental team members is that their doctor does not appear to value, recognize or appreciate all they do for the practice. What’s the disconnect here? Doctors are frustrated because employees aren’t dutifully following every instruction and staff members feel unvalued. I believe the essence of leadership resides between these two conundrums.
Behaviors that get recognized and rewarded get repeated!
Recently I delivered a presentation to the Cleveland Coach Federation: How To HUG Your Clients…Really and Metaphorically. While doing my preparation and research, I discovered the following statistics:
- Every human being needs four HUGS per day merely to survive.
- Eight HUGS per day to maintain oneself at a strong emotional level.
- Twelve HUGS per day to grow and become a better person.
Remember hugs do not have to be physical. They can be metaphorical. Examples might include:
- Asking “How can I help you?”
- A “Thank You”
- A supportive smile
- A kind word
A HUG can be anything else you could do to make a person feel good about him or herself. Hugging is healthy, non-fattening, has no moving parts to repair, cures depression, and is fully returnable! Although HUGS are free, they are worthless if they are never given. Whom can you hug today?
How can you make your patients/clients/guests/family members, and friends feel better about themselves? Please share with me some of your ideas to metaphorically HUG your customers in the comments below.
Creating new habits can be scary and fun at the same time and, if you do it correctly, the results can be fabulous!
For the past 2 years I had thought about the value and benefit of hiring a personal trainer to help me tone my aging body, add years to my life, and encourage myself to be more active. I knew the benefits would be positive; I simply needed to take ACTION.
This past winter, while living in Phoenix, Arizona, I did just that and signed up for 28 sessions with a personal trainer. The first 7 or 8 sessions were brutal as I had been so out of shape and neglected myself for so many years. Oh, I do my daily 3-mile power walk but I have to tell you…strength training is a whole new ballgame. Eventually the visits became more comfortable. My weight was beginning to drop. I could see and feel more strength developing in my major muscle groups. And, probably more importantly, I was feeling better about myself because I had made a commitment to improve and I STUCK WITH IT (not easy incidentally).
Moral of the story: When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired and finally decide you need to do something different to make your situation better, take the first step; believe that you can and you are half way there.
Our Business Purpose is defined and crafted as a result of our business Core Values. We need to be clear about why we are in business. For dentists, it is much more than “fixing teeth” or “making a living.” Our purpose needs to be easily understood by a 12-year old. It needs to be crisp and clear in its description.
Ask yourself some of these simple yet challenging questions:
- Why does our business exist?
- What are we known for?
- What makes us distinctive?
- What do I want out of my practice?
With a clear Purpose in a statement form, it will enable you to remain focused while providing inspiration and guidance in your business choices. Take the time this weekend to craft your business Purpose, keeping it to 10 words or less. Begin the statement with action words like “growing“, “implementing“, “helping.”
Let me know how you do…share your Purpose statement in the comments below!
How many people work in your “customer service” department? Answer: EVERY employee in your organization!
In our dental practices, what happens if we are having an “off” day like the one described in my last post? What can it mean to our business? Just one “distinctive customer service” slip and we find ourselves not so distinctive. I offer the following story (author unknown and I’d love to give him/her credit) as a compelling reminder…..
The Voice of The “Nice” Customer
You know me; I’m a nice person. When I get lousy service, I never complain. I never kick. I never criticize and I wouldn’t dream of making a scene.
I’m one of those nice customers. And I’ll tell you what else I am. I’m the customer who doesn’t come back. I take whatever you hand out, because I know I’m not coming back. I could tell you off and feel better, but in the long run, it’s better just to leave quietly.
You see, a nice customer like me, multiplied by others like me, can bring a business to its knees. There are plenty of us. When we get pushed far enough, we go to one of your competitors.
Why not take an “inventory” or your service quotient in your business. How close is your service reality to the perception of your patients/customers/guests?
One of my daily goals for the past 18 years has been to send out two personal notes daily (yes– every day) to someone who touches me in some special way; my wife, kids, those who support me in my work, friends, clients, other family members, new contacts, my accountant, neighbors, my coach, my home builder, etc.
I set aside a portion of Saturday afternoon to pen 16 of these notes of appreciation. No, I’m not bragging. Au contraire, I’m using the attitude of appreciation as an antidote to my frustration around the lousy service I continue to receive from our U.S Postal service. I’m flummoxed about the gigantic laziness and ineptitude of my current mail carrier. I’m choosing to ameliorate these negative feelings by shifting my thoughts to thanking those in my life that deliver excellence.
Instead of focusing on unhelpful service, I wanted to acknowledge those who “show up” in life. The end result … I felt a LOT better. There is something to be said for shifting from a downbeat attitude to one that is positive.
The antidote: writing or thinking thoughts of gratitude simply squashes out all the negative thoughts.
Reviewing your financials is not an annual event. It’s not a project that needs done once a year when your accountant stops by to pick up your tax paperwork. It is ongoing, behind-the-scenes work that must be attended to throughout the life of your practice. This is in order for it to grow, run profitability and with minimal stress to you, the Dental CEO. It is the backbone of your business; it is that important!
- Select the right accountant: I’ll be frank—don’t pick an accountant because he’s your husband or she’s your neighbor’s daughter. Find and hire an accountant who is assertive and will assist you with actual management decisions. Look for someone who is proactive, makes suggestions and serves as a partner for you.
- Set the expectations: Discuss any related fees upfront. Also, put an agreement in writing that outlines the expectations – create a list of areas you want your accountant to advise and support you on. Are you confused on what to include? Ask: What are your most successful clients asking you to do?
- Build the relationships: Your accounting and financials are an intimate part of your business. Build a confidential, trusting relationship so that you can be up front about any concerns or issues.
There’s a joke about a man who gets to choose between Heaven and Hell. He visits Hell and finds golfing, fine food, terrific weather and paradise. In Heaven, he encounters a boring lot of harp players. He chooses Hell; but on his return is greeted with fire and round-the-clock hard labor. Bewildered, he asks for explanation. “Yesterday,” he is told, “we were recruiting you. But now– you’re just staff.”
Sound familiar? As Dental CEOs, we woo the best people we can find, then gradually take them for granted. I encourage you to pay as much attention to your tenured team members as you did when they were job candidates.
Here are my tips:
- On a regular basis, change something to make the employment environment better – simplify a process, add a benefit or do something simple like add a plant. Each time, “market” the upgrade at your next meeting. Discussion keeps the positive at the forefront of your team member’s thinking.
- At the end of the year, meet with every team member for a moment. Shake their hand warmly, look them straight in the eye, and say “I am really happy that you are part of our team. Your being here makes a positive difference.”
- Sit down individually with your team members and ask “How likely are you to still be working here two years from now?” If the answer is anything but “I’ll be here!”, ask “What would change that for you?”
“There’s no limit to what can be achieved if you’re willing to share the credit.” ~ Wilson Wyatt, Sr.
Some dentists may be saying, “Coach Ron, that’s not true, I have standards in my office.” Well, how up-to-date are they? Do they take into account the levels of knowledge changes that have happened in your office? What about how technology has changed the way we operate? If they are more than 5 years old, toss them out and start new.
How can you use standards?
Use standards in your dental practice to:
- Establish rules
- Create a basis for comparison
- To promote improvement
- Provide opportunities to learn and improve performance levels
How do you set them?
Explore all areas of your dental practice and develop a set of performance expectations for each. Areas include: Patient Care, Marketing, Finance, Clinical and Administrative. Think about common standards, too, like start times for Morning Huddles, office hours, sterilization procedures, and new patient intake.
Standards should be posted and presented to team members so that everyone enjoys a common expectation of behavior. Ask individual team members to explain various standards and policies’ succinctly to the entire team during a staff meeting.
What happens when you set standards?
Overall stress is reduced and practice income is increased. Could you use more of that in your dental office?
“Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.” ~ Wendy Wasserstein