I am an unabashed car enthusiast. I love cars. I read about them, dream about them, love getting behind the wheel of them and wish I could afford to race them. Car ownership is a huge expense, so I buy something that is great and keep it for a long time. The last two cars I owned I had for 17 and 13 years, respectively, eventually changing vehicles because I was ready for a new one.
We bought an all-wheel drive Toyota minivan for my wife to drive. She loved being up high for visibility, and I was duly impressed with my first all-wheel-drive experience. With the proper winter and ice tires, in Calgary’s winter, the car was stable and safe.
So it was my turn to get myself a new car — only my third new car in more than 30 years. With my children now in their late and mid-teenage years, getting in and out of the back seat of my two-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe was a challenge, so I decided I wanted a four-door, all-wheel-drive sports sedan. I wanted it roomy, comfortable, safe and fast. There is a large array of vehicles in this category, and I decided to look broadly at offerings from Japan, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.
Going through the test-driving experience was fun and instructive. Some dealers were indifferent toward me (Cadillac) as if they were not sure they wanted me to buy their car. There was no enthusiasm. Too bad, because my dad loved Caddys.
I had a bad experience at Porsche. I looked at its Panamera with googly eyes. I loved that car and the experience driving it. But it seems that you get a base car no one wants, and then every little thing, including the key fob, was an extra cost. I was confused by the options and said to the salesperson, “I am interested in this car; can you sit down with me and work out what it will cost to get the car that I want?” He said that all the information is listed on the website and I should go there to view it. Really? For a car that I later learned was going to cost CA$176,000? Needless to say, I did not buy that car and the experience with that salesman really left me feeling sad and disappointed. I still feel that way today, more than one year later.
Audi, Jaguar, Infiniti, Lexus, Maserati, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all had great salespeople who made me feel welcome and let me have lots of time with the cars in the dealership and on the road. They clearly wanted my business. But Lexus, Maserati and Mercedes rose to the top, based on a number of emotional factors and some real car experiences that got my blood pressure to rise in anticipation.
Maserati had incredible performance but was really loud, and the noise level was annoying after 30 minutes behind the wheel.
Lexus had customer service excellence down to a science. The car was exceptionally quiet, and that sound system in the car — it was great. But it did not have the performance to match the others. It was good, but it was not exceptional.
The Mercedes-Benz had the best of all of those worlds and was the surprising (to me) choice that I made. I have enjoyed this car since then, and I am happy with my choice. It is the total package: great dealer customer service experience, exceptional performance, quiet inside but an incredible sound system, four doors, all-wheel drive, luxury beyond my desires. It may be the last car I own, as I intend to keep it for the next 15 to 20 years.
It’s not about the car. It’s the moments, the experiences, one moment stacked on another that is what constitutes a great ride. I found that to be true in my personal situation.
What about our practices? What moments, what experiences, the moments stacked onto the next, constitute a great office? How are we greeting our patients, talking with them, building our relationships with them, in addition to providing them with exceptional dentistry that is creating long-term, loyal, happy patients who pay, stay and refer?
I think these questions are worth taking the time to ponder and discuss with our teams. I’ll introduce that at our next team meeting.
Happy holidays, everyone.
Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA