"Disney is just like every business, including yours, whatever it may be. It has to make a profit, it has to deal with serious business issues, it faces intense competition, and its strongest competitor is its own reputation."
~Lee Cockerall - former Senior Vice President for Disney
Why would you want to compete with your own reputation? Well, it would mean that you have become the best. Now you have to stay there and that's why you go up against your own reputation every day. So, how do you make that happen?
How do you become better than every dental practice out there? Let's start with treatment, the actual hands-in-your-mouth stuff. Of course it begins with offering the best dentistry around. Dentistry is your base product and to be the best you have to pay attention to details and sweat the small stuff.
Your shade matching should be without fault. Close enough isn't good enough here. I guarantee your patient will notice what you might tell yourself is a minor shade variation. She will see it every time she looks in the mirror. Your injection should be as painless as possible. I'm still amazed at how many dentists will just plow through it if they don't do this well. This is a make it or break it for patients, so learn how to do it better. Once you pick up the handpiece and get going, remember, the patient is most likely terrified, or at least anxious.
Keep checking in. Are they comfortable, do they need a break, is the assistant keeping them from drowning and keeping the area free of debris? Does anything hurt? Periodically let them know how things are going and how much longer it's going to be. When treatment is over give them good home care instructions. You, the dentist, should give a briefing even if the assistant is going to go over the details in depth. Don't rush out, even if the hygienist is at the door, or the oral surgeon is waiting on the phone. This patient is #1 at this moment. Make sure they know it.
In the hygiene room the same experience should be playing out with each and every patient. Make a mention of something that was discussed at the last appointment. Ask if they have any concerns. Explain what you are doing, and why x-rays may be needed. During the prophy, talk about some non-dental topics, but make sure to educate your patient while you've got them there. The best can make this sound like a conversation, not a lecture. Work treatment needs into anecdotes and lead them to imagining a life with more comfortable, more attractive teeth.
Don't talk about anything negative in your own life, it's not your patient's burden. If they bring up something they are going through, be empathetic without working it around to your own personal trials. The line that keeps empathy and concern from moving away from professionalism and into over-sharing and even gossip is self-control. The patient should leave feeling lighter, not weighed down with your problems. (This goes for anyone in the office, not just the hygienist). When the treatment is done the hygienist should brief the dentist so that when he does his exam the patient sees that this is a team effort.
The patient should always leave your office with a feeling of well-being. Their mood should feel somewhat elevated because they were cared for in the best way possible.
Next we'll explore Mr. Cockerall's thoughts more to find out how to get the team that will make your reputation your strongest competition.