06 Aug Marcie’s Mindfulness Moment | Relationship Building — Your best form of advertisement
In my previous life as a hygienist, dental spouse and practice owner, I helped to build a successful business based on relationships. Our practice model: focus on creating an experience for our patients. The physical environment we designed was more like our living room than your stereotypical dental office. Our space was tastefully designed with decor from Pier One with warm hard wood floors, comfortable seating, and soothing colors– rather than cold, catalog office furniture. We replaced that familiar “eau du dentiste” with a new scent of natural vanilla or citrus, cinnamon or lavender depending upon the season. We piped in relaxing spa music, offered our patients pillows and blankets for comfort and chapstick for dry lips. We always had bottles of water and prepasted toothbrushes to help them feel fresh and prepared if they’d come running in from other aspects of their life. These elements set the stage for our main attraction: our time, patience, empathy, and understanding. We saw our patients as people, not just teeth. We greeted them with a smile and a connection from the heart. We were present with them and they knew they were important to us. We operated from the mindset that we were grateful they chose us. We were their Ambassadors in the office- exuding kindness and love. We treated them like our family– and got to know about theirs. We shared a piece of ourselves and often our vulnerability. We took the time to listen and to hear them, offering reassurance and understanding when needed.
We came to quickly realize that in being authentic and our true selves, we were offering something different than any of our competitors. We found our secret sauce: being the real version of ourselves. Sounds scary, huh? People chose our office because we had built a relationship; they told their friends about us because they trusted us. They knew that any recommended treatment plan was in their best interest. We asked them to send us their neighbors and co-workers that were JUST like them, because we wanted to form a practice of folks that were interested in our connection. I grasped how powerful this was when it came time for my baby shower. Over the years, our patients knew that we were a young couple that really wanted to bring a child into our lives and to create a family. They would gently and respectfully inquire about our progress at their recall visits; and came to be a source of hope and support as we began our adoption journey. When we were finally able to announce that we would bring home our first child, not only did we receive well wishes, but oodles and oodles of adorable outfits, baby blankets, and keepsakes! We had more patient and dental friends at the welcome home celebration than from any other aspect of our lives! Over the years, they became our friends and a part of our community. The secret sauce for our business turned into a key element of the foundation of our personal friendships.
Building relationships takes time, and we considered the extra ten or fifteen minutes built into a new patient visit or a hygiene appointment as marketing dollars. You can allocate a large budget for marketing, and if you miss the mark on creating a relationship, that patient will go out your door as fast as they came in. When you take the time to get to know your people, offer them kindness and your authenticity, I believe you are well on your way to preserving them as patient for life.
Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #138