Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: See you in 6 months then?

I’ve never had to internet date, use match.com or any of that malarkey (thank goodness) and I have to confess to being a little bit captivated by Channel 4’s “First Dates”.

All about my continued fascination with “what makes people tick”, even the weirdos.

Watching a few evenings ago, I got to thinking about dentistry.

Imagine, if you will, that a couple meet in that restaurant and “click”.

The chat is good, the food and wine are great, the atmosphere is wonderful. The happy couple discover that they have lots in common.

As well as the serious business of eating and drinking, the banter is classic.

Clearly there is some magic in the room.

At the end of the meal, one party says to the other:

“So – how was that for you?

The other replies:

Ive really enjoyed your company and the whole experience.

At which point the conversation continues as follows:

OK – well Im glad you enjoyed yourself.

What Ill do is, in another 6 months Ill send you a text message reminding you that we can meet again for a quick lunch.

As well as the text message, Ill send you a short confirming letter.

We can then meet briefly for a sandwich and catch up on what youve been doing.

If you are really hungry, we can agree a time for another dinner, depending on how busy I am.

Between now and then you wont hear from me as Ill be busy dining out with other prospective partners but I may send you a newsletter every now and then to let you know how much fun Im having with the other people I see.

Romantic eh?

I’ve been writing recently about how poor recall letters can be.

We note from our records……”

Listening to Bill Starkie at the SOE Business Insights roadshow it came home to me that dental practices aren’t just poor at recall letters, they are poor at maintaining relationships – period.

I understand that you are busy and have lots of people to see but for every one of those people you may well be the only dentist/therapist/hygienist that they are seeing right now and they want to know that you appreciate them.

Why is it that, whenever I have joined a practice, the best they have been able to do is a letter and a text twice a year, like an unreliable lover who pitches up when they want affection but at best ignores and, at worst, sleeps around when you are not in their mind?

You put so much time, money and effort into seducing and conquering your new patients in the first place but then so little into keeping them sweet.

If you treated your dates the way you treat your patients, you would spend a lot of nights at home.

“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.