by Bill Blatchford, DDS
The success of Starbucks is one to emulate in dentistry. Leadership, vision, marketing, staffing, and training create the Starbucks experience, which is based on a commitment to the shared good for all partner employees and customers, according to Seth Godin, author of The Purple Cow: Transforming Your Business By Being Remarkable.
What if we empowered our team to be “partners” committed to the practice’s profitability, so essential for everyone’s future success? What if we could provide a great working environment and treat each other with respect and dignity? There are still dental offices where one position is called “front desk” and another is denoted as “the back.” What would it take for dentistry to move from staff to team and finally to partner?
The leader with vision can change the team/patient interaction from an ordinary experience to an emotional connection with others. Starbucks makes a point of marketing these principles to its partner employees. Founder Howard Schultz says, “We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.”
Enhancing the human experience at Starbucks is a result of building an emotional connection with its customers. Have your team share those small, special things that Starbucks partners make a point of doing to strengthen your connection with patients. Remember, the human experience is not about coffee or teeth.
In “The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary,” author Joseph A. Michelli, PhD, observes the five ways of being:
- Be welcoming
- Be genuine
- Be considerate
- Be knowledgeable
- Be involved
With strong and passionate vision, teams can be part of something bigger than themselves, something that touches their hearts. Partners want to make a difference because good leaders encourage their involvement and offer opportunities for them to share ideas and be more effective.
Howard Schultz is fond of saying, “Retail is detail.” The environment at Starbucks is always warm, comfortable, and pleasurable. They wouldn’t even have to sell coffee to be attractive. They could charge an entrance fee, serve nothing but a room with music, and people would still come. Partners have checklists to encourage improvement. Though dentistry is filled with clinical perfection, how much attention do we pay to the things our clients might notice, such as an updated, clean décor, checklists before procedures, and solid systems that ensure a positive experience? By paying attention to detail, a business can offer comfort, routine, and reliability. And in the Starbucks world, it actually offers a sense of community.
Starbucks pays attention to feedback from its customers. Even without a survey, you and your team could name three things that detract from your service. Now, how can you improve or change these things? In dentistry, you will always have naysayers bleating, “I wouldn’t do it that way.” But ask yourself: Why not? Why wouldn’t it work? How willing are you to listen to the criticisms of others?
Howard Schultz was interviewed on Larry King recently and shared that the average Starbucks customer enters Starbucks 19 times a month and spends more than $900 a year. Starbucks tracks its numbers and knows its numbers. How do you use the numbers you have? Most dentists and their teams are blissfully unaware of numbers. What if you did an 80/20 spreadsheet on all patients from 2006, listing them by name and how much they spent in your office? When the total reaches 80 percent of your production, you have discovered in real numbers who constitutes your best patients - your top 20 percent. Study that “top 20” - who they are, where they came from. How can you duplicate quality patients like these? You will also discover the bottom 20 percent of patients who give you 80 percent of your headaches.
To achieve their formula for enhancing the human experience, Starbucks knows its partners’ motivations and feelings are critical. The company essentially markets to its partners to create an experience, connect with people, and be accountable for that exchange.
Talk with your team about enriching the human experience in your office. How will you uniquely enrich the human experience in your interactions and relationships?
Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. Become a member of Blatchford FILES, Dr. Blatchford’s monthly CD on winning at dental business. The first two months are free. Call (541) 389-9088 or visit www.blatchford.com for more information.