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What I’ve Learned About Dental Offices From Watching “Bar Rescue”

I don’t watch television.  I just don’t have the time anymore.  But every now and then a show will grab my attention.  “Bar Rescue” is one of those shows.

The premise is that Jon Taffer, an expert in the bar business, gets invited by an owner to critique his or her failing pub/restaurant.  Yes, the show features a lot of yelling, but it also presents some intriguing data on the business of booze.  Mr. Taffer brings in a celebrity chef and bartender to provide further analysis into why the bar is bombing and it is absolutely fascinating.

You can find episodes on The Spike Channel here in the U.S. or plenty of clips are available on the show’s website.

I started to think that it would be great if there was a show like this about dental offices.   I quickly realized that only you and I would watch it, but you have to admit it would be awesome!  Imagine getting an in-depth view into another dentist’s practice and learning what they did well and what they did poorly.

Thinking along these lines,I took away several lessons from “Bar Rescue” that apply to the business of dentistry.

(1) When you have to correct an employee’s behavior, be pleasant but ruthless.

I’ve written in another post about the “compliment sandwich” technique to criticize an employee.  I believe there are positive and friendly ways to tell someone how they can improve their performance.  Since non-verbal communication is crucial to executing this well, I also posted a video of the technique here.

But what if that doesn’t work?  We need to be more direct.  The clip below is from a “behind the scenes” and does not appear in the show.  I like how Jon still opens the encounter with a pleasant greeting, then presents the behavior that he wants to change.  Tough, but fair.  I would only disagree with his term manipulation; that has a negative connotation.  I would call this persuasion.


(2) Unnecessary overhead will sink your business.

A common sight on the show is a kitchen full of food that the restaurant doesn’t need.  Look through your cabinets.  Do you have enough impression material to last for the next two years?  There’s no reason to stockpile dental products, especially ones that have expiration dates.  The items may be inexpensive by themselves, but add it all up and you have wasted capital.  That money could have been used to invest in advertising, office improvements, paying a big bill, and so on.

Appoint your head assistant to be in charge of ordering supplies.  One person and one person only!  When you’re down to the last item of something, the head assistant gets notified and places it on an order sheet.  That order sheet then gets reviewed by you before the assistant places the order.  This is a great way for you to maintain control over your product purchasing.

(3) People won’t remember the product as much as they remember how you made them feel.

I’ve written in several posts that the warm personalities and genuine greetings are often more important than the actual dentistry that gets done.  Patients are unaware of your level of clinical skill as long as the procedure works and they’re not in too much discomfort.  The one exception to that is cosmetic dentistry because your clinical skill will be very important.

I’ll leave you with another promotional video for the show that highlights this point.  Jon explains that people come to his bars for more than just the food and beverages; they come for the experience.  If you can create a warm experience for your patients, they’ll be happy to return and refer their friends and family.


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