Service and mission

Feb. 1, 2003
Can you remember getting your car's gas tank filled at the "service station?" When I was a little boy, my mom would pull into the Texaco service station. Sam would smile at us through the windows as he washed them all.

Tom Orent, DMD

Can you remember getting your car's gas tank filled at the "service station?" When I was a little boy, my mom would pull into the Texaco service station. Sam would smile at us through the windows as he washed them all. Then, he'd ask, "Mrs. Orent, could you pop the hood for me?" Sam then would check the oil and the radiator water level. Back then, full service meant serving the customer.

My wife and I get a big kick out of driving into a modern "service" station where you can "fill 'er up" yourself — or pay a dime more per gallon for "full" service — a euphemism meaning they'll fill the tank. Don't expect today's "service" station attendants to do anything else — ever!

New (old) definitions

To make a fairly broad and biased observation, dentists and their team members are, for the most part, more service oriented than most professions. Twice in Utah I've enjoyed observing spectacular examples of dedication to service.

The first time was at Brigham Young University. I was invited by Dr. Gordon Christensen to speak before the 400 members of the LDS Dentists. Two BYU undergrads were assigned as hosts to serve each speaker on the program. I've been speaking on the circuit since 1988, and I've never experienced anything like their brand of "service."

Forget what you know about service — these two young citizens went above and beyond the meaning of the word. They were there solely to make my stay as enjoyable and convenient as possible. These two exemplary young people dedicated their weekend to my "service." They did everything humanly possible to ensure my two days were pleasant, rich, and fulfilling

The other exemplary case also came (no coincidence) from Utah. Drs. Roy and Chris Hammond practice in Provo, Utah. As a consultant to their practice, I believe I learned as much — if not more! — than they did from our time together. It's clear that these two professionals have an extremely successful cosmetic and general dental practice. The facility is bright, open, cheery, and inviting. Their team eats, drinks, and lives five-star service.

But that kind of service is not the focus of this article. Rather, we're looking at serving our fellow man. Think about service as a responsibility — an opportunity. Dr. Roy and Dr. Chris and their team travel to all corners of the globe. Deep into Mexico, the African Jungle, or the far reaches of Viet Nam are just a few of the places they've traveled, donating their service to those who can't speak their language, but whose smiles and hearts sing volumes of thanks.

Rethink your "mission" and "service." Before we try to deliver "Extreme Customer Service" or "VIP Five-Star Service," we need to step back and appreciate the basics. Separating from the monetary end of a relationship is difficult but necessary to help others enjoy the gift of our best intentions.

Take a moment to step back and enjoy serving others. There is nothing more rewarding than the heartfelt gratitude of those we've helped solely to fulfill our mission to serve.

To receive Dr. Orent's free"1000 Gems e-letter," sign up at, or email [email protected]. Or, fax your name and email address to (508) 872-0020. Readers also can mail requests to: Gems e-letter, C/O Gems Publishing, USA, Inc., 12 Walnut St., Framingham, MA 01702.

Dr. Tom Orent, the GEMS GUY, is a management consultant and practicing dentist. He is a founding member and past president of the New England Chapter of the AACD. He has presented his "1,000 Gems SeminarsTM" in four countries and at state and national meetings in 46 states. He has lectured at numerous dental schools and is the author of four books and numerous articles on aesthetic dentistry, practice management, TMJ, and "Extreme Customer Service." Dr. Orent may be reached by phone at (888) 880-4367, by fax at (508) 879-4811, by email at [email protected], or visit

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