I got a toothache. Five thousand miles from home.

I got a toothache. Five thousand miles from home.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

I woke up, my face was swollen, and I was in pain. I didn’t know what to do. And the native language was not English. So I went down to the front desk at three o’clock in the morning and everyone was willing to help.

The bellman took a taxicab to the all-night pharmacy and got me pain medication and some other pills. In the morning, two doctors came to my room and, for an exceptionally nominal fee, handed me prescription medication, reassured me that I would be fine, gave me their personal cellular phone numbers, and firmly shook my hand in friendship.

I got better. The toothache went away, but the bad tooth did not.

I am now sitting in the lobby of my regular dentist, the great Dr. Scott Menaker. I should be truthful here and say that I (like you) never liked the dentist, and the dentist has always struck fear in my soul.

I called their office in advance to get nitrous oxide set up in the room where I was going to be treated, but I also requested it in the room where they were cleaning my teeth. If you’ve never experienced the joy of nitrous oxide, I highly recommend that you request it the next time you go to your local dentist — especially if you grew up in the 60s.

I’ve been coming to Dr. Menaker for about six years – and every time I come, my fears are half alleviated by the friendliness of the people who work in the practice. They’re a shining example of what you might call “customer service,” or what I refer to as, “genuine friendliness.” There’s a big difference.

I don’t think that friendliness can be taught. I think it’s either in your soul, or not.

Scott Menaker’s practice is a fairly large one. And a very successful one. And I believe that people come back, not just because he’s an excellent dentist (which he is), but also because every single person here wears a smile and uses it.

By the term “using a smile,” this is what I mean: the people here don’t just smile and say hello. They engage you. Sure, the dialog is light, but it’s genuine. And when you’re in the dentist’s office, you’re not there for fun, you’re there to either get your teeth drilled, or cleaned, or something in the middle. No one wakes up in the morning saying, “Oh great, I get to go to the dentist today.”

Fear or anxiety make the atmosphere in the dentist’s office much more important as it relates to the customer (the patient), me.

They’re calling my name, I’ll report more in just a couple of minutes.

Well, I got nitrous oxide, Novocain, drilled, and fixed. And it did NOT hurt. And the service I received was more than I could have hoped for. Smiling, reassuring, and in general – making me feel welcome as a friend, not as a patient.

So, I ask you: Is your office “dentist friendly?”
To what degree are your people friendly?

Here are the elements of a great internal environment, regardless of your business:

1. Positive people.
2. People who smile and mean it.
3. Proactive greeting to customers AND each other.
4. People who engage to build rapport.
5. People who understand that friendly leads to loyal customers.
5.5 A boss that encourages friendly service and trains it.

Oh, by the way. Dr. Menaker’s people are also “up-sellers.” Electronic toothbrushes, mouthwash, whitening products, and other cosmetic services. All presented in a low key, friendly manner.

Yes, I’m loyal. And yes, I hate to go there. BUT, when I get there, I feel the stress and tension dissipate as each person smiles and talks.

Friendly won’t make the dentist go away. And flossing will only help, not eliminate. But when I go to the dentist, I know there are eleven people at Dr. Menaker’s office who will treat me special, and make me feel like I’m at Nordstrom’s (without the drilling).


Rather than a “sign-in sheet,” Dr Menaker’s office posts a vision statement on their front desk. If you’d like to read it, or want a copy of it, go to www.gitomer.com and enter DENTIST in the GitBit box.