Image via CrunchBase
Have you ever been to an Apple Store? I imagine most of you have. Do you remember your first visit? Do you remember any other stores you visited that day? I would safely bet that the experience of visiting the Apple Store was a special experience. You were probably surprised by how neat and clean it was … how friendly and informed the staff were … how there were plenty of employees available to serve you … how informed and helpful every staff member was. And you probably didn’t think about it then,but there was no pressure to make a purchase.
Apple Stores are one of the most successful commercial establishments ever created. More people visit these stores in three months than go to the top four Disney theme parks in a year. Their average sales are $4,400 per square foot. That compares to $3,000 at Tiffany’s and $880 at Best Buy.
Apple is considered a pioneer in the area of customer service. Their employees are taught something unusual: not to sell but to “help customers solve problems.” One training manual states that the role of the sales associate is to “understand all of your customers’ needs — some of which they may not even realize they have.” A former employee states, “You are never trying to close a sale. It’s about finding solutions for a customer.”
Apple states its plan of service in the acronym APPLE:
A: Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome.
P: Probe politely to understand all of the customer’s needs.
P: Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
L: Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
E: End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
It is my contention that dental offices need to be more like Apple Stores. The principles above, with a different word or two, apply to dental offices almost word for word. Unfortunately, most of what dentists are doing today and what consultants are teaching them to do creates needless stress and actually limits our success.
We have been running our dental practice like an Apple Store for the past 30 years without even realizing it, and we have been hugely successful following this model. Our production passes $400,000 a month, our collections are 99%, overhead is under 60%, and we do not participate in PPOs. We average more than 120 new patients a month with virtually no external advertising. We accomplish all of this in the metropolitan Detroit area, one of the markets hardest hit by the recession.
But success with this model does not come quickly or easily. It involves thinking in years rather than months. It means abandoning much of what we have been taught and what we have done for years. It means being open to new and different ideas. It is a journey of discovery that can ultimately result in more success, more profit, and more joy in the practice of dentistry.