My family has long had a love affair with Honey Baked hams. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter… pretty much any holiday or large family gathering provided the excuse necessary to purchase the wonderful delicacy.
Recently I dropped by the store to pick up two bottles of their delightful Hickory Honey Mustard. Even without the ham, it makes just about any sandwich taste better. Armed with a ten-dollar bill, I was surprised when the clerk told me my total was $12.84. I said, “Wow! That’s expensive mustard,” to which she replied, “Yes, it is.”
I kept waiting to hear the next sentence. You know, the one where she says, “But it’s worth it!” But she didn’t say that. She basically just told me that her mustard was overpriced.
As a young practitioner, I was quite “price sensitive,” but set extremely high standards for patient care. It was critically important to me that each patient served received a “mountaintop” experience from start to finish, and that only the finest materials and devices would be used in delivering their care. And my fees reflected that.
Early in my career, however, I employed a young lady who failed to understand that. Although she worked in my business office, she was terrible at collecting payment for services rendered. Because it was necessary for her to succeed at this important task, I pulled out a couple of training manuals from my office library and shared with her the proper techniques and appropriate verbal skills to improve her technique.
Imagine my surprise when there was no significant improvement in collections the following month. When I challenged her regarding her continued failure to collect payment at the time of service, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “I can’t ask them to pay their bill. You’re not worth it.” That was her last day.
It never occurred to me that one of my own employees – who happily accepted a better than average salary with numerous benefits – thought my fees were too high. As I reflect on that experience, I realize it was my failure to properly lead my team and communicate the practice’s core values that contributed to it.
You see, those core values were clearly spelled out in my office policy manual, but – to my employees – they were just words. Without sharing our common values through open communication and building a vision that we all “owned,” they would remain “just words.”
That lesson in leadership was a hard one for me, but one of great value. In time, my practice attracted quality employees who shared with me a common vision for providing patients with a “mountaintop” experience from beginning to end. We maintained high ethical standards, built long-lasting, personal relationships, established trust, and took whatever time was necessary to properly educate those we served before initiating any recommended treatment. In short, we built value for the services we rendered.
Not only were we paid for those services, but we were rewarded by patients who made and kept future preventive care appointments and built our practice by referring to us their families and friends. Clearly, building value for one’s products and/or services is critically important to the success of any business. I wonder if the lovely young clerk at Honey Baked Ham has figured that out yet…
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“Values give rise to attitudes… your values are not merely those things you talk
about in church or refer to when someone asks you what you believe in.
Your values are deeply help beliefs about what is important, precious, or sacred to you.”