by Joan Garbo
Retailers have edged the Christmas buying season up so that it now begins before Halloween! “Black Friday” has spawned “Cyber Monday” for online shopping; and the mobs of super-sales shoppers have become violent in their quest for “the deal.” The number of younger people who have never watched nor heard of “It’s a Wonderful Life” has exploded as younger generations can’t understand how anyone could watch a movie in black and white, especially one without explosive special effects. And the second biggest retail day is the day after Christmas when the stores are jammed with unhappy gift recipients seeking to cash in on the day-after sales. Is this what “the season” is about?
Fortunately my memories of Christmas are of a simpler time. I rarely had money to buy gifts for my family members, but I always had wrapped presents for every one of them. Granted, my knitted-with-my-own-hands scarves and sweaters were probably only worn once (when they were tried on) and my paintings and other artwork were hung/hidden on walls in a room rarely used; but the spirit of the gift was cherished long after the January blues had melded into spring. (The “coupons” I gave for “I’ll do your Saturday chores” or “one car wash” helped extend the experience of the gift and didn’t cost me a dime!) The day after Christmas was not a shopping day for our family but rather the day my mom supervised our thank you notes writing to relatives who had sent us monetary gifts or those items that got stashed in the closet until after the gift-giver’s first visit when we could display or wear it for a show of appreciation. Today too many grandparents are thrilled if they receive a text message from the grandchildren in response to their generosity.
Orthodontics Transforms PatientsMy point is not to join ranks of old fogies lamenting the loss of the “good ole days” but rather to (in the words of my mother) “put the acCENT on the right syLLABle”. If nothing else, my involvement in the orthodontic community has taught me that blessings abound everyday throughout the year. The profession is unique in its ability to have a transformative effect on every patient. Orthodontics literally opens doors to futures that the patients never thought possible for themselves: shy and withdrawn people become expressive; moody and sullen people become happier and content; people pursue dreams; self-esteem is no longer an issue for those who no longer can suppress their smiles. Orthodontics provides, in essence, the true spirit of the Christmas season for the rest of the patient’s life…a gift that keeps on giving.
What’s the Message?The first operating principle for any business is “what’s the message” you want your customers to take away with them…and spread to all their friends and family. Does everyone on staff know what that message is? Is everyone clear about how to create the experience for patients that relates what the message is? As we experience the spirit of Christmas this year, how about making it the theme/message for the year ahead and make “the season” a year-long experience for all. You don’t need more money for marketing to smile more at everyone, or to send thank you notes and make care calls, or to do the little things that let people know they are loved and appreciated. Play the “secret pal” game with the staff, and practice (anonymous) random acts of kindness with each other as well as the patients. Turn “tis the season” into “tis our practice” and reap the rewards that love for its own sake sends back to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Equipping all levels — from the novice to the seasoned professional — with the best tools of the trade, Joan Garbo has been a national consultant, trainer, and public speaker since 1978. She has applied her extensive training and experience in language development to communication and relationships in the workplace. For the past 25 years, Joan has specialized in consulting and training business owners and their employees in effective communication skills, team-building, executive coaching, and how these impact customer service. Joan is dedicated to supporting professionals in creating work environments that are nurturing, productive, and prosperous to management, employees, and clients. Joan can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, phone at (631) 608-2979. Joan Garbo Consultants, 19 Glen Lane, Copiague, NY 11726. www.joangarbo.com.