Thank You Before the Thought Fades Away...
Several years ago, I recall
a client of mine who was running a very profitable general dentistry
practice and contacted me questioning his giving of annual bonus’ to
his employees. He based the bonus on length of time served in the
practice, overall productivity of the office, and pay scales of the
employees. Through all the years he had been paying bonus checks, only
two employees had ever said "thank you." Neither was still
with the company. One moved to the east coast, and the other retired to
a small town within the state where the doctor practices.
My client was so disappointed with this lack of etiquette that he
discontinued the incentive bonus program, and if anyone had the guts to
complain, he would quickly retort, "I have been paying bonus’ for
several years, and no one has bothered to say thank you. When one of you
takes the initiative and says thank you, I might consider bringing back
a bonus program.”
I sat back and pondered this dilemma and what came to my mind were the
gifts I would receive as a child from friends for my birthday or
Christmas, and also gifts from my grandparents. It wasn’t the gifts
that came to mind, per se, it was the lesson from my mom and dad to send
thank you cards and acknowledge the gifts received. Besides,
grandparents and others may have wondered, what happened? Was the gift
lost in the mail? Did the poor thing lose the power of speech or the use
of his writing hand?
I’m sure there are countless stories out there of people who have sent
a birthday check and not heard a word back. Perhaps the only evidence
that the gift was received is found among the pile of canceled checks
returned from the bank! Oh well, the benefactor must think…”hope
they bought something nice for herself.
On occasion, I’ll receive exceptional service in a restaurant and
leave a larger than normal tip, hoping that the server would realize a
larger tip is a sign that I enjoyed the experience and would like to
return, particularly if my generosity is acknowledged. This hasn’t
happened yet: the server hasn’t followed me out and said, “Hey, I
just wanted to thank you for your generous tip, I really appreciate you
showing how much you enjoyed my service this evening. When you return
next time, ask for me, I look forward to seeing you again!” Right:
what world am I living in?
If you're a dentist and have recently completed a large case that the
patient either pre-paid, or paid in full, what have you done to make
that patient know how you feel about it? It’s great to bank the money
and have an above average month in collections because of the huge case
you just completed, but what about the patient who received the
treatment and is now part of your success story in dentistry?
A thank you just makes sense. A prompt thank you is easy to say, a lot
easier to say than “Gosh Mrs. Jones, I neglected to tell you how much
I appreciate you as a patient,” or “How've you been after all this
In New York City, several years ago, the police are enforcing the
quality-of-life laws and then Mayor Giulianni is even calling for the
city’s cabdrivers and waiters to improve their manners, pointing out
that rudeness is not a great civic selling point. It seems to be
working. Crime is down. Tourism is up. And, the city is on a roll!
Many dental offices wait until the holidays to say thank you. A
Thanksgiving card to patients is a common form of marketing this time of
year. Nothing wrong with that, but why wait? Seize the moment, and be
more responsive by saying the magic words the moment it’s appropriate.
Stay away from the “corporate logo” stuff, those are fine for
advertising, but it’s not a gift.
I try to tell my clients,
day in and day out, the best gift a dentist can give to his or her
patients or team members, have no monetary value. They are the hand
written cards that say, “Thank you for being such a great patient.
It’s people like you that make me proud to be a dentist.”
Additionally, a telephone call on the evening of treatment to make sure
patients are well is a tremendous way dentists can show how much they
care about the well-being of their clientele; although not an outright
“thank you”, but a powerful gesture nonetheless.
I recently received a note
from a dentist client of mine saying, “Thanks, Fred. I couldn’t have
done this (transitioned his practice) without you!” Needless to say, I
was on cloud nine for days!
Imagine what would happen if
you caught someone who works for you doing something exceptional and you
say to him or her, “Thank you, I really appreciate you being here.
You’re a fantastic team member in this office!” Believe me, an
action of this sort will be extremely well received.
it’s a two way street. You’d like your employees to do the same when
they are given a bonus or rewarded for exceptional performance. Part of
leadership is doing those things you would hope your employees would do
as well. Lead by example, then. Say “thank you” more often when the
occasion presents itself; you’ll see it come back in many ways.