We had a bowl of candy at the front desk in our dental office! Yes, you read that right! A bowl of actual candy – not sugar free, not the tooth shaped suckers sold by dental companies. Nope this was sugar filled, sticky, hard candy.
And it was amazing!
If you’re a dentist you are probably raising your eyebrows in shock or shaking your head in disagreement, trust me even the dentist I worked with gave me a hard time about it.
After all, dentistry is about taking care of teeth, right? And sugar is the evil root of all dental issues. Why would we want to encourage patients to wreak havoc on their enamel! Kind of disgraceful huh?
Patients loved it though, it was always a conversation starter, put a smile on their face, for a moment eased their anxiety about being at the dentist. One time a very nervous patient called and a crown she had on #30 had come off! When asked what happened she admitted to eating caramels and it just came happened. So, like a good office manager, I ran to the local corner store and bought her a bag of sweets. When she arrived for her appointment, we gave her the bag of candy and told her that it was for after her appointment!
She started laughing and was taken by surprise. She also relaxed and was more at ease. How many dentists are handing out candy right?
Now, by no means am I saying that this is what you should do. If you don’t want candy in the office, no big deal (what about a soda machine)?! Joking!
See it’s not about the candy. Remember the woman with the missing crown? We gave her the caramels? It was a few weeks later and she sent us a great thank you card and mentioned the caramels and that she liked that little touch (also promised she was watching what she was eating). Over the next couple months, that patient referred quite a few new patients to the office, which is always what we want. And everyone of those patients mentioned the bag of caramel.
We became memorable to people. Our action of giving candy or having it at the front desk, made our office stand out to people. Because (drumroll) we were different! Our culture was one of fun, ease, comfort. We did other things like full on decorations for each holiday, had a resident elf that hung around the office, offered coffee or tea in the lobby and genuinely treated everyone like family.
The culture of your office is what will allow you to stand apart and be noticed. You don’t want to blend in, get lost in the fact that you do crowns or teeth whitening like every other dental office. You need to find ways to be different and that doesn’t always mean offering different services. It can mean instead, having televisions in each room, or lavender scented towels for after their appointment. It can be sending birthday, anniversary, or thank you cards to each patient. It can be having patient appreciation days, shoot have donuts every Monday.
The reality is you have to do something to rise above the rest, or else you will be fighting against the competition based on services, and well most dental offices all offer the same thing.