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The amount of information I’ve learned throughout the process of buying and running a business is laughable. For many reasons.
1) We thought we knew what we were doing before we got started – ha.
2) Who knew that a dental practice manager needs to know how many Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) an HVAC unit needs to output per square foot of office space? – I didn’t
3) Some people are truly kind, good-hearted, and want to see you succeed. Other’s could care less once you no longer matter to their bottom line.
– And the most important thing I’ve learned –
9672) Relationships are the most important key to long-term success (caveats: we’ve been in business for just over 4 months now and this is an assumption, but I don’t foresee a scenario where this isn’t true).
Customers, business partners, employees, your community, advisors, …I’m talking holistically, here. There isn’t an interaction you may have that doesn’t have the potential to change the course of your business in the negative or positive. Sure, some people and companies matter more to your business than others, but you don’t want to get caught slacking at the wrong moment. That’s one thing we’ve seen, is that you’re always ‘on’ when talking business – whenever or wherever. Or, I guess at least you should be.
Here are some examples of great things we’ve seen over our last year as MFD:
- We have been fortunate to have so many of our patients take us up on the request to leave a review of their experience at our office, and because of that, we have seen dozens of 5-star reviews. These positive words have been tremendous as new patients come in and answer, “I looked you up and saw all of the positive reviews, so I thought I’d give you a shot.” to the question of ‘How did you find us?’
- Some of our hired advisors have remembered our daughter’s name at subsequent meetings, some over a year after the previous meeting. That’s a nice touch that stays with you.
- Other offices we refer to (orthodontist, oral surgeon, pediatric dentist, etc.) have sent gifts over at the end of the year as a ‘thank you.’ The benefit they receive from one referred patient likely exceeds the gift cost, however, everyone loves presents… Especially wine presents.
- A patient we completed a large-scale case on had taken pictures and showed the Facebook world her new confident smile. She’s driven more patients to our office than some paid promotions, and we didn’t even ask her to do that. This means a ton.
- Some employees have come to us on multiple occasions with open lines of communication during times of personal or professional distress. Why is this important to us? It shows us that they are invested in the business and that rather than jumping ship, they want to find a resolution to the professional issue presented. For some personal issues, it gives us a better idea of some ways we can help improve their impact/experience as a valuable part of our team.
- We get birthday cards and party invitations from our financial advisor, accountant, IT company, and others. The cards make us smile and feel important (even if slightly), and the party invites give us the chance for a date night – which I definitely love.
Not all of our interactions have been positive ones, though. Here’s a vision of the alternative:
- A business partner told me over the phone (when I was calling in an attempt to resolve an ongoing issue from which they were directly linked) that, “You know, Mike. Technically our responsibility to your current situation doesn’t have any legal requirement at this point.” Translation – I don’t care about your issue. The deal was signed and you should take it from here. I will never call that person again, but more than that, I will speak openly and honestly about that company when asked by someone in the industry.
- I was told by a banker that our acquisition loan had no feasible future. I then met with my wife and business partner about our new future, and at the conclusion of that meeting, the banker called me back to say there was a clerical error made. Our loan would work well.
- Back to the bank loan – we needed at least a 5-year lease to show the bank there would be a space to practice dentistry. 30 days before closing and after many futile attempts to contact the current landlord, we were told: “we are only able to offer a 6-month lease.” That turned into a year lease but still, we were forced to find a new space and negotiate a new commercial lease in 30 days. That was an impressive feat and not highly recommended.
- We have had a few patients that no matter how much extra care and attention is presented or provided, they still would rather curse at the staff and cut down our doctor’s clinical abilities. Although obviously untrue, that can still be difficult to hear.
- One of our prospective business partners visited the office and asked Monica (assuming she worked the front desk) to find the doctor for him… He had met her 3 days prior… He is not currently a business partner.
- Some of the best ones, I can’t write about… Just know they’re there.
This has undoubtedly been a learning process and by no means are we a higher authority on professional relationships, but it doesn’t take much to care. To care about your clients, partners, employees, and others, and to actually use that care when making business decisions. Send birthday cards, remember family member’s names, and promote the successes of others, and actually care about doing it, and these actions will have a positive impact on your reputation – which will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Thanks for reading!
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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!