We All Screw Up

Dear Coaches,

Please help to settle a little disagreement in our office. A patient came in for a crown insert, but the crown was not here! We messed up by putting the wrong date on the lab slip. My assistant thought that we should tell the patient that the lab did not deliver the crown on time. I thought a better answer was that we looked at the crown and were not happy with the quality. Who is right?


Dr. Lynne Jeffries
Manchester, NH


Thanks so much for your question. It can be tough to figure out what to do when things go wrong in your office.

Maybe (as in your case) a patient came in for their insert appointment and the crown was not back from the lab.

Or possibly you had a schedule malfunction and couldn’t see a patient when they came in.

Or maybe your insurance estimate was way off and the patient was pissed because they owed a lot more than they were originally told.

The list can go on and on because no matter how conscientious we are, screw-ups happen. But there is a pretty simple three-step formula for taking care of them.

Tell the truth.

Trying to fudge the truth to appease a patient or telling a white lie to make the doctor or team member look better rarely works. And of course as the saying goes, when you tell the truth you never have to remember what you said!

Take responsibility and apologize.

So don’t “blame it on the lab.” Even if it was the lab’s fault, that excuse looks about as hollow as saying the dog ate your homework (or blaming any other situation on the dog). The fact is – anything that happens is ultimately the responsibility of the practice.

Make restitution.

Waive the fee. Give a Starbucks gift certificate. (It’s great to have a stack of these around the office.) If the patient is being reasonable, do your best to accommodate.

Simple? Yes. The right thing to do? Absolutely! When you screw up – admit it, apologize, and make it better!

We had a minor mess-up at The Madow Brothers office last week. We had the tuition incorrect for our upcoming “Deeper Than Dentistry” seminar, which will take place on Friday March 23rd. So for that – we take full responsibility and we are very sorry!

To see the correct (low!!) tuition and to find out more about this unique and life-changing (seriously!) course, visit www.deeperthandentistry.com!

Hope to see you there!

Coach Rich
Coach Dave

Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

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