An Unfinished Symphony

We were at an expensive, “fine dining” restaurant last night and had a wonderful meal. We ordered a dessert and two coffees and due to the poor performance of that last piece of service, a great experience was turned into an average one.

The dessert was supposed to be heated, a hot apple crumble with ice cream. We ate a few bites and noticed that It was cold so we mentioned it to our waitress, she apologized, and left the table. Before she left we asked for another cup of coffee. Earlier in the evening we had seen the manager circulating around asking people how their meal was, not really engaging the diners, not really helping out, just asking about the meal, expecting a positive response and moving on. When our waitress left our table we expected that the manager would come over, talk to us, apologize and take the dessert off of our bill. Instead the waitress came back, was very nice and said that she had taken the dessert off of our bill. Our second cup of coffee came as we were standing up to leave the restaurant.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but when you are paying a lot of money for a service/product, you expect superior service from the beginning to the end of the experience. I feel that the manager should have done three things differently. First, he should quickly engage the diners when inquiring about the dinner, not interrupting their meal but showing interest and being quickly conversational. Second, I like to see managers helping out their staff, not just marching around looking important. The manager could have poured us more water or performed some other small service that shows that he cared about his employees. I like to see managers helping to clear tables or doing other small but important services. Third, when we complained he should have come to the table himself. Instead he sent his waitress to handle the problem. It made him look like a coward. He was quick to ask for praise of his dinner, but couldn’t face us when we had a complaint.

Learn a lesson from this. While you are doing your MBWA, perform some tasks and help out however you can. I believe that a manager shouldn’t ask anyone to do anything that they wouldn’t do themselves. Engage your patients when you pass by your reception areas and you catch their eye. Greet them, smile at them, somehow acknowledge that you see them and you know them. Thirdly and most importantly remember that the buck stops with you. You are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your office. Don’t let a great experience fail at the very end, remember to follow through from the beginning to the conclusion. People will remember what happened at the end more than what happened at the beginning. If someone has a complaint, show up, own it and solve it. Show them that you care and you aren’t a coward afraid of dealing with adversity. Dental practice management is more than just making rules and supervising people. It’s about actions; talk the talk, then walk the walk. Your patients will appreciate your gestures and your staff will too.


About Steven C. Reynolds

Steven C. Reynolds, D.D.S., M.S.B.A., M.A.Ed. is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Midwestern University Dental Institute, and was formerly a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Reynolds owned a 4 doctor, 42 employee practice for 32 years before selling it and moving into academia. Dr. Reynolds received his dental degree from the University of Detroit, his M.S.B.A, in Medical and Dental Practice Administration, from Madonna University, in Livonia, Michigan and his M.A.Ed. from University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota. His teaching experience includes the practice management curriculum at the University of Detroit Mercy, attending the residents in that school’s AEGD program, as well as serving as Group Leader for the 3rd and 4th year dental students in the school’s dental clinic. He is currently a faculty member at Midwestern University Dental Institute, Arizona where he is a clinical care coordinator and teaches practice management as well as clinical pharmacology. He participated in the Evidence Based Dentistry Champions Conference hosted by the American Dental Association, in 2008. He is a member of the ADA as well as ADEA.
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