I believe we become better people when we surround ourselves with quality people. I’m here to tell you there is no one more high quality than my very own Executive Assistant, Kim. We’ve worked together for 4 years and I have grown to love her and her family… especially her daughter, Gracie. I asked Kim to share a story about Gracie that I believe can teach us all a lesson about business…. all while having a good laugh.
I’ll let Kim take it from here...
Hey, there! I’m Kim, Trivinia’s assistant. (This is how I always begin my emails, so it felt appropriate!)
Nothing about my 11-year-old daughter Gracie has been easy. When she was a baby she had acid reflux, didn’t sleep for two years, did the opposite of my first baby who was “textbook”, and has speech and cognitive delays. She’s the cutest little girl in the world and even though she hasn’t been the easiest kid, she has certainly been my biggest teacher.
A week after Gracie turned 5, she complained about her mouth hurting. I took a look and found an abscess on her gum. I quickly called my sister who worked in Oral Surgery and one of the surgeons agreed to see her the same day for x-rays and an assessment.
Now, I know that it’s culturally acceptable to hate going to the dentist. Sorry, Dentists! I personally dread going every 6 months, but I’d rather keep my teeth as opposed to falling into a stereotype cast on anyone who lives near the south. Besides that, when your mouth is jacked up and in pain, something has to be done.
Our first visit consisted of crying and fighting the poor x-ray tech for entirely too long before the surgeon decided to skip the x-rays altogether.
After chatting for a while, he suggested I meet with his wife, a pediatric dentist. I was reluctant after the afternoon we’d just had, but I had to get this taken care of.
We hurried over to the dentist office, whom I now adore, and went for round two.
This time, it took me and three nurses to carry her back and hold her down to check everything out.
As I had feared, the tooth had to come out.
How was this going to work? She won’t sit still. She’s screaming. I was pretty sure this dental bill would be the tip of the iceberg for the years of therapy I’d have to pay for when she’s older!
I can hear it now… “You know, Doc. It all started when my mom took me to the dentist…”
After the appointment with my new b.f.f., Dr. Carrie, we agreed on a plan which included oral surgery. The tooth had to come out and there were a few other problems to address. Because she wouldn’t sit in a dental chair, anesthesia was the only option. #chaching
Fast forward to the day of surgery. We arrived early in the morning and because she didn’t know what was about to happen, she walked in on her own but when it came time to take her to the operating room, another meltdown happened.
This time, a poor nurse, who I’m convinced isn’t paid enough to take the abuse she did that day, picked her up from the chair she was sitting in. As she was carrying Gracie to the O.R., this sweet, innocent, normally non-violent 5-year-old decided to use the only weapons she had… her fists! The girl went dead weight, started swinging and throat punched this sweet nurse. In Gracie’s defense, it wasn’t intentional and it was the first and last time she’s punched anyone. Silver lining… now we know Gracie can take care of herself! 😉
I didn’t know this had happened for at least 6 months.
We had several follow up appointments after this and each one I dreaded more than the last because every appointment meant I had to carry her into the dentist office, carry her to the back with the help of at least 3 nurses, and hold her down so they could look at her teeth.
In all of my 15 years of parenting, it was the hardest time in motherhood to this day!
But you know what, sometimes we have to make our kids do hard things because we love them…. and want them to keep their teeth!
One afternoon, while she was in the chair crying, a nurse said “Oh, I remember you… you’re the one who throat punched the nurse.”. Not exactly how you want someone to remember your kid! After a quick text to my sister, she confirmed (and sent photo proof!) with a message that said I wasn’t supposed to know. Turns out this sweet nurse, who Gracie used as a punching bag, was a friend of my sister. She was so sweet about it all and even took pictures as evidence of her rough day at work!
Guys, I have spent the last 6 years working with this same dentist to make Gracie comfortable. For a kid with learning disabilities, that isn’t easy. But I’m here today to tell you that this dentist knows customer service and how to treat people well.
For an entire summer, 5 years ago, we had a standing appointment every two weeks. It wasn’t your normal dentist appointment. Instead, it was a dance party!
They knew Gracie’s favorite song and every two weeks, we went into the exam room for a dance party.
Slowly, we graduated to moving the chair up and down, touching the equipment, and high fives.
Eventually, she sat in the chair, wore sunglasses, and let them count her teeth.
This went on for months.
Here is the reason I’m telling this story.
Though it may not seem like much to you, my daughter, whom I used to carry into the dentist office (and make a spectacle of ourselves to passers by) now says she wants to be a “dentist girl” when she grows up. That is HUGE! The other day, I asked her why and she said it’s to help kids who are scared of the dentist. *insert tears*
Last week, Gracie went for her 6 month check up. She walked in on her own, had a full exam plus x-rays (with a great report, I might add!), and took flowers to her favorite assistant, Brea.
Gracie and Brea share a birthday month. I knew Brea was planning to have a cupcake for Gracie, but I had no idea she was going to have this over the top, gorgeous cake!
I laughed with our PVA team that we’ve come a long way from throat punching nurses. And even though we laugh about it now, the truth is, Gracie’s dentist office showed incredible, over the top customer service to not only me but to Gracie.
We aren’t a number. Not just another patient. Instead, we are someone who they can serve and truly want the best for.
- They could have shrugged us off as a difficult patient.
- They could have decided to use those bi-weekly appointments for someone who was lower maintenance.
- They could have charged us for those appointments.
But they didn’t.
- They nurtured her.
- They invested in her.
And now….. She doesn’t hate going to the dentist. It isn’t a struggle in our home anymore.
The truth is, it’s so much more than dental care.
It’s working hard for a common goal.
- The appointments were made.
- We had to show up.
I had to take advice from the dentist and staff on how to best support Gracie on each appointment. We had to make those bi-weekly appointments a priority. We live 45 minutes away from her dentist, so it wasn’t convenient. I dreaded these appointments because it was nearly an hour in the car listening to her cry. She dreaded those appointments because she had to show up and be brave.
After a while, we are in a rhythm that has turned into a beautiful story. And it’s because they went the extra mile.
What does this story have to do with being an entrepreneur? So stinking much! Like I said, sweet 11-year old Gracie has been my biggest teacher.
How many times in your business have you shrugged off a meeting because it would be uncomfortable or inconvenient?
Who have you dismissed because they would have surely been a difficult client?
Keep in mind that just because you put in the extra work, you may not see results overnight. Remember, it took 6 years for us to get to a place where we don’t dread the dentist and it’s because we put in the work.
What can you do this week to go the extra mile? And how will you maintain that extra mile over the course of weeks, months, and years? Stay consistent and continue to invest in what you know is good.
Why would you do that? Because today, I’m a raving fan of Arquitt Pediatric Dentistry and I sing their praises. And really, isn’t that what we all want?
A little about Kim:
Kim is the Executive Assistant to Trivinia Barber at Priority VA. She lives with her husband, two kids, a field full of cows, a coop full of chickens, and 1 turkey on their farm in Southwest Missouri. Kim enjoys long walks at Target with a cold foam cold brew from Starbucks, volunteering at her church, and making people laugh. Click here to learn more about Priority VA and our amazing team!