But when stuff happens to me at the office, I have to laugh at myself. I have to say to myself, “Nice going, Mr. Elite Dental Practice” and, “Oh, yeah! Everyone wants to emulate you.”
This week, I have another funny story. We all have this person whom we know. We know they are not just rich, but also wealthy.
One day, she came to me with a broken tooth, asking if I could help her. I was like, boom! Soon, I thought, I will see her husband, her kids, her parents, her neighbors. Yes! I have been waiting for this, I thought.
She came in, and I worked my magic on her. She was so pleased. But this was the last I saw her. She was scheduled for a cleaning appointment, and she missed it. Then she told me that she broke another tooth. We made her a long appointment with me, and she missed it. Then her assistant called to make another appointment, and she missed it again.
Things were not going as planned.
It got to the point where I had to decide whether to start charging her for missing an appointment. To me, when you charge someone for missing an appointment, you are telling that person you don’t want him or her at your practice anymore. The patients sometimes say, “I am so sorry for missing that appointment; please charge me.” (If the patient is saying this, he or she probably is lying.) Patients don’t want you to charge them — and even if they say that and you charge them, they are probably going to be a bit ticked off.
Anyway, I charged my acquaintance $175 for missing her most recent appointment with me. We sent her a statement. About two months later, my front desk staff member came into my office and said that her assistant was on the phone, saying, “We got this bill for $175 from you; she wants to know if you will reconsider. See, Mrs. X is very busy. Also, you don’t want to lose her as a patient, do you?”
What?! Are people out of their minds?
As dentists, if our friends come to our practices, we roll out the red carpet for them. We want them to have the best experience. Why do patients not feel the same way about us as providers? Don’t our friends want to be good patients?
I got on the phone. I said, “No, we will not reconsider.” I explained that she hadn’t been charged for multiple missed appointments, but there had been one too many missed appointments.
I have learned a lot from this. I see a lot of people while I am out whom I would like as my patients, but now I know I should be careful with what I wish for. I have learned that sometimes, our friends don’t always make the best patients.
John Gammichia, DMD, FAGD