A patient walks into your office and tells you that she’s just been to a “competitor” down the block and hated their office. The front desk lady “kept saying ‘umm’ every other word” and “put her on hold for 10 minutes and then hung up on her”. Then, while she was getting her new patient photos taken, the rest of the clinical team sat around near her talking about their weekend and laughing about how much they plan on drinking. You get to know the patient and she seems pretty sane. No crazy questions or weird expectations. She schedules treatment and leaves.

If the “competitor” was a friend, you’d likely pick up the phone and tell them about the situation, right? You’d let them know that you had someone in your office who gave valuable feedback about their team and you want them to know.

But what if the office in question wasn’t a friend, but someone you causally knew and saw at meetings from time to time? Would you feel an obligation to call or text them? Moreover, would you actually keep it from them because you “owe them nothing” and it might even cause more patients to come to you?

Or maybe you had a toxic employee leave your practice and you heard she’s working at another office. You wouldn’t wish her on anyone, so do you contact the new doctor who is an acquaintance to let him know to be careful? Or, do you keep your mouth shut and let them find out for themselves?

These aforementioned examples are real situations that occur every day in our practices. How do we handle them? What do we really owe our fellow orthodontists? What’s the right thing to do?

I don’t know if there’s a right or a wrong answer. On one hand, we would always want someone to tell us any information that could help our practices and contacting another office to help them seems like the right thing to do. On the other hand, many people don’t want to hear bad news and if you’re not really friends, it could strain a relationship because nobody really likes a neighbor who sticks their nose where it doesn’t belong.

I’ve done both things. I’ve called orthodontists to let them know about situations and I’ve been both thanked and attacked. I’ve also kept my mouth shut and let others deal with issues in their practices on their own.

So, what would you do? How would you handle these situations? What do we owe our peers?

Wishing you the best,

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GLENN KRIEGER IS AN ORTHODONTIST WITH 20 YEARS OF RESTORATIVE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE RETURNED TO ORTHODONTIC RESIDENCY. DR. KRIEGER LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-DESIGNED PRACTICE POLICIES AND SYSTEMS DURING A YEAR AT THE SCHUSTER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTSDALE ARIZONA, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRACTICES AND INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL’S “DENTIST AS CEO” PROGRAM. HE IS THE HOST OF “THE ORTHOPRENEURS PODCAST”, MANAGES THE ORTHOPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND RUNS THE ANNUAL ORTHOPRENEURS SUMMIT.

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