What do Dentistry and the Fashion Store Gap, Inc. Have in Common?

As a dentist, you are witnessing changes in your industry.  Less than twenty five years ago it was unethical for shutterstock_136446755you to advertise.  Now you have to consider a marketing strategy for your website, social media, and local options.  With the acceptance and convenience of online shopping, many retail businesses are having to shift how they do business in their store front division.  Gap is leading the way, with some innovative changes, in their brick and mortar stores, to be competitive with virtual shopping, offering what we all expected as the standard, in a new way.

I know, you are struggling to find the comparison.  That’s ok.  It’s in innovation and back to the basics all at the same time.  Sometimes broadening our view, taking a step back, looking around, will help us to focus in a new way on our situation.

I read a Huffington Post article recently that really got my attention.  The article is mostly about minimum wage increase that Gap will be offering it’s sales associates.  How they, Gap, plan on recouping the bottom line cost increase is what caught my attention. Customer Service. Let me say that again in a different way. Patient Care.

For the local corner dentist, you are now seeing competition in the chain dental clinics that are cropping up in every town.  Don’t think I’m saying one is better than the other.  I’m simply comparing online retail with chain dental clinics.  How do you set yourself apart from them?  The same way that Gap brick and mortar stores are with their online competition, (which sometimes is themselves) customer service and patient care.

Here is how I see it.  When I’m shopping online for the convenience I’m not going to hear how comfortable a particular sole of a shoe is. I’m also not going to know that the jeans I’ve been wearing for 2 years, now have a slightly different cut.  No stories to go along with the purchases.  No added details or personal suggestions.  When a patient sees you, ask how they heard about you. If you know that person, tell them something that will make both of them feel good for the referral, (without violating HIPPA) use analogies when explaining care that relate to their personal interests.  Basically be personable, just like what we used to experience with in person retail shopping.

If during the appointment you find out about an upcoming event or a recent achievement, hand write a personal note about it.  Today you can’t just drill and fill and hope your practice will grow.  You must be intentional in how you show up.  Like Gap, give some thought to how you can offer, a little bit more.  As with Gap, it may start with some added expense, but the reward will be a thriving practice that you love as do your patients.

So, just like Gap figure out a way that sets you apart in a good way from your competition.  Being innovative in a back to basic kind of way.  Step up your game in customer service, I mean, patient care.

Strength ­ invest time and possible resources to give personable patient care.

Dignity ­ take responsibility for where your practice is now and be intentional in how you move forward.

Grace ­ if you haven’t seen the benefit of being current and relevant with your practice, don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself, and move forward.

Please share with me your thoughts on my comparison, and maybe how you are offering personal patient care.