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And Why You Should Be More Like “My” Dentist.

So I am just back from a visit to the dentist. For the last couple of weeks, I have been eating on one side of my mouth trying to pretend that it was normal. Come on, I can’t be the only one that procrastinates on going to the dentist.

Anyway, the pain was increasing and so yesterday I made it one of my “eat that frog” tasks to book an appointment.

Now I must confess, I was nervous.

My last “dentist” encounter involved a root canal. If you have ever had a root canal, you will know what I mean when I say that, it is a full contact sport. Needless to say, I have not been keen to return to my least favourite reclining chair.

But I bit the bullet (excuse the pun!) and I booked my appointment.

I got up this morning with the “dentist, dentist, dentist” mantra loud and clear in my head. I was happy that I had booked an early morning appointment. I did my morning meditation. I had my breakfast. And off I tentatively trotted to “my” new dentist.

Now, the last thing I thought I would be doing today was blogging about “my” new dentist. Do you notice that I am using the word “my” a lot – that’s important to notice. 

Anyway, here I am, blogging away. Why?

Because it was a GREAT, yes I said GREAT experience. 

And it got me thinking about the lessons us business owners can learn from “my” (yes, I said it again!) new dentist.

So as I sit here sipping my post dentist Latte (through a straw!) let me share some of my observations. These are lessons that I believe we can all apply to our business.

Lesson # 1: The First Few Seconds Are Critical

I arrived at “my” new dentists practice early. In fact, it was before their opening time. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the door open. The team were up and about, busy preparing for the day. They all stopped immediately and greeted me warmly. The receptionist used my name. Nice. A small detail but a big deal.

It never surprises me how many businesses take our name and then don’t use it. It’s a little thing that makes those first critical seconds good ones. When people use our name we feel welcomed, important and expected. 

It raises an important question for us all. How can we make those first few critical seconds more powerful for our clients? How can we honour the fact that they have chosen us to serve them?

Lesson 2: How You Communicate Empathy is Important

When we visit a new dentist or doctor we all know the drill (the puns keep coming :-). The universal greeting for a new client seems to be “Please complete this form and take a seat.”

But this receptionist was different. She said seven  words that immediately made me feel that she understood my pain. Instead of the universal greeting, she handed me the clipboard with a form and pen and said… “Take a seat and make yourself as comfortable as you can.” 

“Make yourself as comfortable as you can” told me that she was seeing the world through my eyes. She understood how I was feeling. Not only did she understand, she communicated her understanding.

Empathy is critical in relationships. And there is a big difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is not what our clients need when they are in pain. They need empathy and solutions.

Lesson 3: Understand the Desired Outcome

I took a seat in the waiting room. The walls proudly displayed many photographs of smiling children with their Tooth Fairy. How cool. She looked so much fun, I wanted to hang out with the Tooth Fairy too! But at 45 years of age, I thought that may be just a bit weird.

The waiting room was warm. Not “temperature” warm but “relational” warm. I started completing my form. They wanted all the normal details but then I got to a question that I had never been asked before. It was a clever question. And it was all about me. It said… “Tell me how we can help you to improve your smile today.”

I smiled. What a great question. It was all about the OUTCOME I wanted. It wasn’t about what was wrong, it was about what I wanted.

So I wrote three words…”Fix my pain.”

It got me thinking. Isn’t that what all our clients want? They want us to fix their pain.

That pain can be mental, physical, emotional, financial… the list goes on. Their desired outcome is to get out of that pain. And our MISSION and LEGACY is helping our clients to achieve their OUTCOME.

So it is important for us to reflect on whether we are asking your clients about the outcome THEY want.

At this point “my” new dentist was tracking well. My expectations had now been exceeded several times and I’m not even in the chair yet.

This was a pleasant experience and I felt myself relaxing. But only briefly because about one minute later, the nurse came to get me. They were EARLY! It was BEFORE my appointment time!

Lesson # 4: Respect Your Clients Time

Being punctual is important to me. If for some reason I am running late for something, my anxiety levels skyrocket. Yes, I am one of those people who is at the airport 3 hours before the flight. Well if I am being honest it is more like 3 hours plus a buffer for the unexpected. As a side-note, my husband does not share my enthusiasm for this practice. Although I must say that since we gained Platinum Frequent Flyer status he is a lot more cooperative. He likes the Platinum Lounge – there is beer and sport on the TV.

I digress. Back to punctuality.

What punctuality says is “I value your time.” What it also does is remove anxiety for our clients. 

Being late is a broken agreement. Great relationships are built on agreements and trust. If you break the first agreement (the time you were meeting) your clients trust in you decreases.

So it is critical to be on time, every time. Plan for the unexpected and show your clients you value their time. Make your clients feel like you are ready and waiting for their arrival.

Lesson 5: Make Them Feel Cared For

I walked into the dentist’s room and met “my” (there it is again!) new dentist.

He was warm and friendly. Not too over the top and that was a good thing. Let’s face it, when we have toothache, super-perky people can be just a little annoying.

He was mild mannered and polite. He took my bag from me and placed it carefully on a chair. Now, I’m not sure of he is also a Louis Vuitton fan but he treated my beloved LV bag with love.

Meanwhile I was trying to make myself comfortable in the chair. My mouth was parched. So I reached for that little cup that is always there beside you. The nurse rushed over and asked “would you like some water?” “Yes please” I replied. She said, “The cup that you reached for has Listerine in it, Let me get you some water.”

So what is the big deal with this? Well she was PRESENT. How many times do we get served by people whose mind appears to be somewhere else? This nurse was fully present. She was observing my body language enough to prevent me from a nasty tasting experience.

I was feeling cared for and isn’t that what we all want? Are you and your team fully present to serve. Are you anticipating and taking care of your client’s needs.

Lesson 6: Deliver the Outcome Fast

After a short consultation with lots of questions and an x-ray, the source of my pain was identified. I was going to need a filling.

I was told the costs involved and with my nod of approval we were off.

Let’s face it, a quick visit to the dentist is a good visit. We want our dentist to move as quickly as he or she can. It’s nice to have a chat to people, but in my humble opinion, now is not the time. Just take my pain away as fast as you can.

And he did. Quickly, efficiently and without fuss or explanation, he fixed my problem. And that’s all I wanted.

“All done.” he said. And I was like “Wow, that was quick.”

It was at that point he came “my” dentist. I felt a moment of admiration for a job well done. This was someone who I would happily refer to. This was “my” dentist.

So I have a question for you…

Are you somebody’s “my”…?

When our clients refer to us as “my massage therapist, “my Accountant, “my Mentor.” etc it tells us how they feel about us.

Referring to someone as “My…” is a sign that you plan to return to them. But that only happens whilst we are getting the outcome we want. Failing to deliver the desired outcome and the “My…” becomes “My last….”

It is all about the OUTCOME for our clients. And they want it as quickly and fuss-free as possible.

Lesson 7: Be Benevolent

One of my mentors used to talk about being benevolent with our clients. It’s something that I hope I have embraced with my own clients.

“Benevolent” means kind, warm-hearted and gracious, amongst other  warm and fuzzy terms. But warm and fuzzy is important.

Whatever business you have it is all about relationship. Relationships with your clients, your team, your suppliers and your community. If I had to describe “my” dentist in one word, I would say he was “benevolent.” And that is why I will go back to him. And that is why I will also refer others to him.

A business that receives lots of referrals is so much easier to run.

There’s just less to do. Less marketing funnels to manage. Less conversion tactics required. And you will save yourself from hours of content marketing.

To gain referrals I believe you need to do one thing – produce the OUTCOME your client’s want. And if you do that quickly whilst also being benevolent, you might just find yourself the topic of a blog post too. But more importantly you will have them referring to you as “My…”


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My name is Anthea Horvat. I am a Business Strategist and Mentor. I am also the founder of Business Fusion and the Business Masters Club™. I  specialise in helping Australian, established, service based business owners to increase their profitability, scalability and saleability. I help them to create their ultimate business.

Over the last 15 years I have had the pleasure and honour of personally mentoring over 2,200 Australian business owners to create their ideal business. I believe that life is too short to be stuck in a business delivering mediocre financial rewards and lifestyle.

If you want to increase the profitability and scalability of your business please join our free online training community – Business Masters Club™. It’s free to join and you can become a member of a community of business owners committed to growing their businesses.

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