by Paul Homoly, DDS
"Wayne are dentists going to learn to give patients what they ask for?"
It's midmorning on a Saturday and your husband and kids are away camping. There's nothing to clean or fix. You feel good! You find your way to your favorite mall and notice that Macy's has a sale on women's clothing.
You stroll in, look around, and end up in the evening wear department, where you see a "to die for" silver and black sequin evening gown. It has a halter top, a scoop back ... and is beyond eye candy. You want this dress — now!
You see a salesman approaching. You know it's time to buy something nice for yourself. What you don't know is that this salesman is a former dentist and he's going to use everything he learned in dentistry to sell you this dress.
He approaches you and says, "Hello and welcome. How can I help you today?"
"I'm interested in this evening gown. It's beautiful! Do you have it in a size four?"
"Well, before we get to that, let me tell you how we do business here," he says. Much to your amazement, he pulls a card out of his pocket and reads his mission statement.
"We strive to provide the finest quality clothing to all of our customers and to restore their wardrobe to the highest level of function, comfort, and aesthetics. We perpetually educate and reinforce to all our customers the importance of preventive laundering and dry- cleaning. We provide the highest possible level of textile excellence and optimal fashion health."
You try to be nice and say, "I appreciate that, but I'd really like to try on this dress. Do you have it in a size four?"
He frowns, eyes your figure, and says, "Well, before we talk about the dress, don't you think we should talk about your weight first?"
You can't believe what you just heard. "My weight! You want to talk about my weight?"
"It's not just your weight that's important," the salesman continues. "Other things are going on here that I'll want to examine and learn more about. Then, after I've done a complete evaluation, I'll have you return in a week and I'll make my recommendations."
"Other things? What other things are you going to evaluate?"
"Well, one thing we need to discuss is your hygiene. Before I sell you my clothing, I want to make sure you know how to keep it clean."
You fantasize about reaching into your purse, slipping out a hand gun, pressing it against his ribs, backing him into a dressing room, and putting him out of his misery. Instead, you try to be nice one more time.
"Can't I just try on the dress without all that other stuff? I'm in a hurry!"
"This initial appointment should take about an hour and a half. We'll first have you watch a videotape on textile manufacturing. Then, after the video, you'll see our tailor, who'll chart your measurements and go over how to keep your clothes clean. Then, I'll be in to tell you what you need."
"I know what I need! I need this dress!"
"I'm sorry, but we don't let our customers diagnose themselves. If you're uncomfortable with this policy, then I'll be glad to refer you to a store that will do things the way you want." "You don't have to ... I'm out of here!"
At lunch, the former dentist turned Macy's salesman is with a saleswoman who sells clothes at Nordstrom.
He says, "I wish I knew how to get customers to value high quality clothing. They just don't appreciate what I go through. How was your morning?"
The saleslady said, "I met the most wonderful woman. She looked great in this black-and-silver evening gown I sold her. She ended up spending $2,000 on accessories. My advice is to spend less time trying to change your customers and more time appreciating them. You'll sell more and make everyone happy."
Like shoppers, patients have no use for your mission statement, lectures, or demonstrations. Many view such extraneous information as nothing but hype. They seek you out for prompt, skilled comprehensive dental care. Give them what they want — no more, no less.
Dr. Homoly coaches dental teams to implement reconstructive dentistry through his continuing-education workshops, private consulting, and seminars. This column is an excerpt from his new book, Isn't It Wonderful When Patients Say Yes? — Case Acceptance for Complete Dentistry. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (704) 342-4900 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his Web site at www.paulhomoly.com.