I try to do more for my patients than merely meet their needs. Service beyond what is expected is a philosophy I acquired as a boy. My parents taught me that honesty, integrity and service are the fundamentals of good business. I literally learned this from the ground up.
As a ten year old I loved fishing with my father and even searching for worms in the dirt before the sun came up. My father suggested that night crawlers might be a marketable product for an ambitious young boy. I quickly embraced the opportunity to start my own business.
Dad supervised my efforts to construct and paint a sales stand. My tiny sign, “Worms Wilt in Warm Weather”, beckoned customers to my growing enterprise. I used ice cream containers and sold my worms for $.35 a dozen. Dad wisely advised me, “Give ‘em more than they expect. Put in 13 or 14.” He taught me the value of integrity.
My mother gave me a crash course in business and a spiral notebook for keeping track of my assets and liabilities. After all, I would have to know how my business was doing. She helped me see the importance of being organized and efficient.
My parents regarded my worm business as legitimate. I was expected to do all the work myself and pay for expenses out of my profit. I adapted a metal tackle box for a cash receptacle and bolted it to my stand. I designed a sign that was displayed each summer, “Honest John’s Self-Serve Night Crawler and Worms Stand”. I learned to have pride in my work.
As my business grew, so did my needs. Soon I was purchasing worms wholesale by the crate, with truck deliveries each Wednesday. Eventually, I built a new stand with power for a refrigerator to keep the worms fresh. I learned to invest profits into better service for my customers.
Those three summers of selling worms taught me a great deal, but my parents are responsible for imparting the lessons that still govern my work ethic today. I don’t ever want to forget my roots. That’s why each summer I still put my worm sign out in the yard. I want to remember how I started.
When someone asks why I continue to give more than necessary to my customers, I am reminded of the advice my father gave me years ago, “Give ‘em more than they expect.” It’s a philosophy that works as well for the business of dentistry as it did for night crawlers.
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