Is Today’s Casual Service From Your Dental Office Staff Detracting From Your Business?

An article came across my desk this morning discussing the demise of service values at Sydney restaurants and the relation that this has had also with the demise of some fine establishments.

Interestingly, this article follows on from where I wrote recently about a restaurant in the Southern Highlands where I felt that the waitress was way too familiar with my wife and me as diners.

This article today indicates that this familiarity is creeping into Sydney.

And I’d suggest that this over-familiarity is also creeping into other industries without consideration of the long-term effects of what is going on.

This newspaper article pointed the finger squarely at the replacement of professional waiters with students and travellers.

It’s funny because I know that as a regular diner at one of Sydney’s finest restaurants I always liked to tell the waiters there that when I retired from dentistry I wanted to come and work there with them, because I just loved the way they worked and their attention to detail as well as process.

And I guess that’s it in a nutshell.

Standards are dropping as we now start to see a shift towards a laissez-faire approach from the wait staff that we get lumbered with these days.

And the wait staff do tend to be people on working holidays..

Which then creates a vicious cycle within itself.

Because if the only applicants that restaurant owners can get for their wait staff are students and travellers on visas, then why would the business owners be motivated to be spending money on training and educating employees who by their very own definition are transient by nature.

And in so doing we see the dilemma.

Was this dilemma created in the first instance by business owners looking for less expensive labour in the first place?

And by so hiring, it is the business owners who really have set the wheels in motion of what now seems to be a runaway out of control locomotive?


Is this because the restaurant owners are going into these businesses undercapitalized?

The article seems to feel that this is why corners are being cut.

And the biggest cut is staff and service.

And as I see it, that results in the biggest negative impact upon your business turnover and its profit.

The article quotes insolvency expert Angus Gordon as saying:

“Something as simple as good service could be the difference between a successful restaurant and a dud.”

I’d go so far as to say that you CANNOT have a successful restaurant or successful business without having great people and great service.

It is the great service that is the glue that holds the successful business together.

Nobody wants to go to a business where they are treated shabbily.

It’s not a duplicatable business model.

How many Seinfeld style “Soup Nazi” businesses do you see out there?

Not many!

I’ve pointed it out recently that in dentistry, dentist business owners often have very little knowledge about how their front desk is being run, or how their hygiene appointments are being conducted and what is being said and what is being not said where and when around the dental practice.

And so business just goes bumbling along regardless.

The businesses out there that are serious about their customer service through their great systems and through their values and their culture are the businesses that are standing head and shoulders above their competitors.

My thoughts are that with restaurants the demise in service standards has come along at the same time that the wait staff now attend each table for the bill settlement with the EFTPOS terminal rather than the good old days of back and forwards of the bill and the folder and the credit card and the signature, and the Tip.

And it is the Tip, and the lack thereof these days that is probably driving down service.

As diners, I’ve spoken to restaurant owners who refuse to ask their clients for a tip when handing the diner the EFTPOS terminal for settlement.

And I’ve been in situations where I’ve wanted to tip, where I’ve expected to tip, and the tip facility and instruction has never been offered or requested by the server.

My point here is that if the wait staff are not incentivised into the success of their tables and therefore the ultimate success of their restaurants by receiving a financial incentive [tip] from their diners, then long term there will always be more struggle for these restaurants than in a business that does focus on the numbers.

And I’ve seen the same in dentistry.

A team that functions knowing the customer retention numbers and knowing the practice financials will go out of their way to act on that information and help improve those numbers.

When the numbers are not disclosed then the employees are left in the dark, and vagueness is created.

Angus Gordon suggests that restaurant owners need to share some figures with their wait staff as to average spends required for the restaurant business to be profitable and to be viable.

Again, as I say, you can’t feed your kids on applause.

Everybody needs to be aware of the numbers required.

In dentistry we need to know these numbers:

  • Number of patients seen per week.
  • Average spend per patient per day.
  • Are we hitting our targets and goals?

And then, are we rewarding our team for hitting those targets and goals.

When waiters used to be tipped with cash, they were easy to incentivise.

Nowadays, as process has infiltrated their industry, the ability to incentivise them is not there as much.

Maybe the restaurant industry needs to take a step back on the automation and then upskill itself better on the original problem which was credit card security?

In dentistry, the automation of appointment announcements, and the automation of patient SMS systems has seen a disconnect in those practices between the staff and the patients.

And its all because some bright spark computer nerd thought that he’d invent a new system of automation, without realising that the automation was detracting from the business ‘s core vale of service and communication.

And actually talking with the patient….

Not so smart.

In the restaurant article, the owner of Catalina restaurant said that his restaurant treats patients like grown ups and is not succumbing to trendy casual culture.

I know that Truitt Cathie would never succumb to that culture at his restaurants either.

And maybe that’s why Truitt’s restaurants are far more profitable than others in their industry.

As I say, there will always be a percentage of the population who want great service and are willing to pay for it.

So why not seek out those customers and give them what they want?

Be it fine dining or fine dentistry…

So that your business can survive, and thrive, in these variable times.


Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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