Are you exceeding expectations?

Les Jones from Practice Plan explains why you should always aim to do better

I was recently invited to a VIP event at my local car dealer, from which I had bought my current car. The invite – which came in a beautiful parchment envelope tied with a red ribbon – enticed me with the promise of exclusive offers and a fantastic deal on my next car.

My existing car is approaching the end of its contract, so the timing was perfect and I accepted the invitation, even though it involved me giving up most of a morning on a weekend. I then received a confirmation of my appointment through the post with a VIP badge on a silk lanyard – very impressive!

On the day of the event, I arrived to be greeted by a red carpet leading into the dealership and a smiling member of staff who gave me a warm welcome and furnished me with a fresh coffee…brilliant!

And then, it all started to go wrong. Firstly, the woman who had welcomed me, couldn’t find any trace of my appointment – even though I could show her my confirmation and my lanyard. It wasn’t a major problem though, within a few minutes I was greeted by a member of the sales team who led me to his desk to tell me all about the exclusive offers and fantastic deals I had been promised.

As an existing customer I had expected the salesman to have my details to hand, or at least to be able to retrieve them from his system. But no, I was treated as a new customer and asked to provide a host of personal data (phone number, address, etc).

When I was finally provided with a quote for my new car it was £120 a month more than I’m paying now. What’s more, there was no explanation as to how the quote differed from a standard offer – I was, after all, at a VIP event with exclusive offers and fantastic deals!

And so I left, underwhelmed, disappointed and wondering how else I could have spent my morning.


And the moral of this sad tale? Well, it’s all about managing and exceeding customer expectations. Or not in the case of my VIP experience. The car dealership did a great job in getting me on the hook, but then couldn’t deliver.

Whenever I’m scheduled to visit a practice to help them with their branding and marketing, I always take a look around their website first. Quite often, the image and culture that is communicated through the website doesn’t match up with the actual experience I receive when I arrive at the practice – sometimes it’s better, but a lot of times it isn’t. How would it be for your practice?

Word of mouth

Talk to any dental practice and most will tell you that referrals are their biggest source of new patients, which is great – but people generally only refer when their expectations have been exceeded, when their experience has been made memorable for all the right reasons.

But that doesn’t mean that customers don’t talk when they’ve had a bad experience or when their expectations have not been met – in fact, they talk even more. It’s only three days since my car dealership visit, but I’ve already told at least eight people of my disappointment.

If you want your patients to be strong advocates for your practice, you have to give them great reasons to tell the world about why you’re so good. Talking the talk, but not walking the walk is not good enough.

I’m just logging on to Google to search for a new car dealership!


About Practice Plan

Practice Plan partners with over 1,500 dental practices and offers a wide range of business support services. If you would like to find out  how it can support you to grow a profitable and sustainable practice, get in touch.

Tel: 01691 684165  Website:

Les Jones

Les Jones

Author at Private Dentistry

Les Jones is the creative director at Practice Plan. He has over 30 years' experience of working within the creative and dental sectors in the fields of design, marketing and strategic consultancy.

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