Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ghost Writer, don't blame me.

Hey all,
I am at the Florida National Dental Conference this weekend.
My staff and I are meeting at the convention center this morning. I will be in meetings all day.
This one is just a warm up to the AGD annual meeting in July, so don't get the wrong idea.
So I asked my friend to drop another blog for us. Remember this dude. He the one that wrote the dark blogs about two months ago. He was in a bad place then and it doing okay now. He is passionate about his work and is a cerebral kind of guy. I hope you like it. Oh, the book I am reading is Operational Instructions by Anne Lamont. It is a writers memoirs about pregnancy and the first years of parenthood. She is extremely liberal but extremely funny.
In so many ways we disagree but we can laugh together.
Enough about me....

Whenever I step foot outside the office, like many of you, I see things with my dental eye. I notice what other professionals are, or are not, doing. I particularly like to evaluate different businesses and organizations. If you carefully observe your surroundings there are valuable lessons everywhere.

We are all aware of the “e myth”. The book essentially explains that you must work on your practice rather than work in it. You should try to model enterprises such as McDonalds who have systems in place that are the same from location to location. They are a well branded and extremely consistent. They are model franchise business as we all know.

There had been a recent slow down at my practice that caught me off guard. November and December of 2007 were my worst back to back months since 2003. Back then my overhead was much less and my personal expenses were easier to pay for. New patients and comprehensive exams were abysmal. These are usually signs that things were going to be bad for a while. I had to do something that I had never done before. I had to promote my practice and myself.

Recently my wife and I got away from it all by visiting the charming southern towns of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.

I’ll start with Savannah.

We booked ourselves at the historic district’s Holiday Inn Express on a Thursday night. The hotel and particularly the staff embodied the “WOW factor”. We stayed a single night on our way to Charleston. In that short period of time they made an impression on me that compelled me to write the manager a letter. I really want to know what the mission statement of their organization is. I want to know how they choose to hire such gracious people. Every single person in the place greeted us with a smile and asked us how they could be more helpful. We felt like true guests in their home. The housekeeping women were almost freakishly friendly. The bellhop was a memorable young kid who parked our car for us and left the our keys in our room while we got a head start on getting a table at Paula Deen’s restaurant.

I could get more specific and go on and on. The point of my story is that I doubt I would stay anywhere else in Savannah when I return.

Isn’t that the kind of service we all strive for in our offices. The kind of service and “WOW” that keeps patients from ever considering another dental office. For me it was a lesson learned. Internal marketing does work.

The next evening we were in Charleston and had met with a buddy from dental school, his wife and his twin three year old boys. We decided to hit a kid friendly fried seafood place. As we walked down the street there was a young girl wearing a Hyman’s Seafood t-shirt giving out samples of hushpuppies. Once the sweet fried nuggets hit your taste buds you knew you had to give Hyman’s a try. Hyman’s had been giving out samples three blocks away from their restaurant. We quickly made our way there.

Once inside you quickly become aware of all the notable celebrities who had dined there from the autographed photos on the walls. Then when you sit at your table there are little metal plaques that tell you which rock band or actor had sat where you were. I believe Hootie and the Blowfish, AC/DC, and Hulk Hogan had dined at our particular table at some point.

There were multiple business card sized cards that had memorable quotes with “Hymans” printed on the other side. They also had a deal where if you spent over $30.00 you were entitled to a $4.00 t-shirt that said “Hymans Seafood” on it. I wear that t-shirt at least weekly now. More promotion. As you left there was only one way out and you had no choice but to visit their gift shop. The place was loaded with every imaginable souvenir with, you guessed it, Hyman’s Seafood, somehow embroidered, printed, stamped, ironed on, painted, etched, or molded on it.
Hats, t-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, key chains, sweatshirts, tank tops, and Christmas ornaments, just to name a few.

What’s the point of all this? Well, Hyman’s was packed. Later that night we walked by and there was a line half way around the block. The following night a similar line developed of people waiting to be seated at Hyman’s. It was a hit. Obviously their marketing scheme worked. External marketing works. Lesson learned.

We took the trip back in early February and have already implemented some of the tactics used by Hyman’s and Holiday Inn Express at my practice. I’ll get specific on the next blog.

Next Blog?!!! Boy is he getting a little too comfortable on our blog.
I liked it and would like to hear what he has to say.
Maybe we will keep him.
Have a great weekend.

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