Do you have problems getting the most out of your vendors? This podcast gives practical tips on how to be the squeaky wheel and stay on top of deliverables.
Hello and welcome to Dr. J's Path to Success Podcast. Dr. James Fedich is a successful practice owner, best-selling author, and speaker. Listen in as he shares his secrets to a successful business and a successful life. So now, here's Dr. J!
Hello and welcome to this episode of the podcast. The title of this episode is Squeaky Wheel. Why are we named the squeaky wheel? We're going to talk about vendors and getting attention, getting the squeaky wheel gets the grease so the old adage is, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We're going to talk about this in context under vendors. Most small business owners, and even if you're not a business owner, you deal with a lot of vendors. You need work done, plumbers, electricians, all kinds of different service providers, landscapers that you have in your life. And if you have a business, you have ten times as many.
The reason this is coming up is, I'm actually on my way to my clinic at 7:20 in the morning, and I'm meeting with a new insurance broker, because we're not getting the service from our insurance broker that we need or deserve, and we're going to switch brokers. When I complained about it, they basically told me to be nicer to the staff. We were complaining that we weren't getting our health insurance done, and we have staff that are uncovered, and staff that's no longer with us that is being covered. It's a bit of an issue, obviously, and the insurance is pretty experience, so it was a couple thousand dollar a month mistake, not to mention we have staff members that want to have health insurance and don't, which is obviously not okay.
As I was getting on this vendor about not having our insurance done properly, I was told to be nice to the woman, she's getting older. Please be nice. You're calling and yelling at her and all this stuff, and so long story short, we're going to switch vendors, obviously. One thing I'm known for around the clinic is being really tough on our vendors. A lot of you, I'm going to encourage you, are being a little bit too nice letting people get away with stuff. If you're paying people money, you should be getting the service.
So, if you've been in business, or even if you're not in business, but you've just been around for a little while, you've probably noticed service slipping everywhere. Just yesterday, I'm at Target grabbing a couple things for my wife's birthday. Wrapping paper, a card, little stuff, and you go to check out, there's four self-checkout lanes with two or three people waiting in each person and one person overseeing, one actual checkout line with a real customer service person and a line going down there, and standing in line to wait to check myself out, I'm just astonished that this is kind of where customer service has gotten to.
I'm waiting in line to check myself out, bag my own stuff, pay you, and leave. How am I waiting in line to work for you and pay you? That's just unbelievable how customer service is going, and I think we kind of know where that all came from with the $15 minimum wage, et cetera. We won't get into that conversation today. But customer service is slipping everywhere, with your vendors and everywhere, all around. But when you're paying somebody money, you should expect some certain level of service.
So we want to talk about encouraging you to be a little bit tougher on your vendors, today. To your suppliers you're getting your supplies from, your vendors for telephone, cable, internet, things like your insurance broker. We're not getting service like this, I demand better service, they can't do it, so they're out. They're fired. And that's it.
There's a million insurance brokers that like our business. It's a pretty big clinic. It's a good client for a new guy that I'm on my way to meet, now. He's willing to meet me at 8am in the morning, and he's going to get the business of all my property & casualty, health insurance, you know we have a lot of insurance, a big clinic like that, and he'll get a nice book of business, because they weren't willing to give me the customer service.
So I want to encourage you to look at some of your vendors and realize you've got to be tougher on them. Another thing, my staff are always commenting, like half the day I'm spending just keeping up on people. Keeping on the vendor, "Where is this? Where's my supplies? How come this is late? Where's this?" And you're just on these people all the time. It's a real sad state of affairs when we can talk all about that, but you just need to be on your vendors all the time. You have to realize, if you're paying somebody money, the more you pay them, the more of a customer you are, the more you should be able to demand that you're getting better service.
So if you're a better client, or even if you're not. You know, a smaller client, you deserve service, but the bigger the client you are, the more service you should be demanding. A lot of people are just sitting on the back waiting to be done. I was just talking to a patient the other day and kind of saying, you know, being at the bottom of the pile.
You know, the squeaky wheel is going to get the grease. You're calling, complaining, emailing, and you're on top of these people, they're going to put you on top of the pile. Half the time, I get good service with these vendors only because I'm a pain in their butt, and they don't want me calling all day and emailing them, and I'll just be on them. You know, my wife's learned the same thing, too. But I've really learned, and it's a shame. Trust me, I don't want to do this, but really if you're not the squeaky wheel, you're not going to get things done, especially in this day and age of poor customer service just all around.
On the flip side of this, I want to encourage you to look at some of your vendor relationships, your suppliers, your service providers, landscapers. I was just talking with another M.D. at the clinic, our landscaping company may not be the cheapest, but they just get anything done for me. Last year, a bear knocked down our fence. I took a picture of the fence, emailed it to them, and the next day there's two young guys out there putting a new fence in, and they send me a bill for it.
The gutter was hanging off or something a couple years back. Same deal, picture I sent it over, they sent a guy to get over there. So I'm probably paying a little bit more for a cut than I need to be, a weekly cut, and all that kind of jazz, but you know what? They get the service done, and I don't have to worry about stuff like that. The plow the driveway, they salt the driveway, they trim the bushes, they do the leaves, they do all that stuff for me. It might be a little more expensive, but like that fence is a big thing. I've got a dog, kids, and you know, the fence was down. I took a picture and emailed it, and they came out and did it.
I may or may not be overpaying for that service, but I don't mind, because they're going to give me that customer service. So number one when you think about this kind of vendor service relationship, your squeaky wheel conversation, who are you not getting the service from in your vendors relationships. Is there somebody who is just not giving you the service or not on top of things. Things are late. You need to be on them and expect more from them.
Like this vendor today with the health insurance, they can't give me what I need, you're fired. You're out. There's a million other people that will do it, especially with a bigger business. But even if you're small, they'll take you. You know, demand that high level service or get rid of them. I was calling and emailing every day. Someone, two weeks ago should have been put on our health insurance plan. I've got employees not covered when they're supposed to be covered. That's not okay. I'm going to be on them, and basically the supervisor told me to lay off the lady, she'd get it done. He just told me, "She's an older woman. Take it easy on her." And it's like, it's been sitting in her pile for two weeks. No. We have staff that needs insurance. I'm not going to take it easy on you. If you can't give the service, you're out. So that's that. Once you appear to be a little bit tougher on some of your suppliers and vendors and your relationships like this, you know.
And then, when they do give good service, you treat them well. So that's the flip side of this conversation. My computer guy, after going through a million computer guys, I finally found a good computer guy, finally. It's a nightmare if you have an IT guy. So, he's good. He comes in prompt. My staff can call him when I'm not there, and he'll show right up to the office within a day or two, call, he does a lot of repairs on the phone and doesn't even charge me. But one of the things I always do with him, and this is a good tip with a lot of your vendors, and I just did this a couple times is, I write him a check right when he's there. So when he's done with his service at the office, "Mike, what was the bill? How long were you here?" And he leaves with a check.
So if you know any of these service providers, they are always chasing down money. Plumbers, electricians, all that kind of jazz. And him, too. So he's billing, and he does these big loggers, he bills on the system, it sits on this big pile, and you know next month, it's 90 days were unpaid, you've got to send a second invoice. These guys don't have time for that, especially most service providers are kind of mom and pop of just a guy or two. So these are really good tricks for you, and I do the same with a couple vendors. The computer guy, I always do that.
He also does my house. We have a bigger house, and the whole network and all that kind of jazz, and he installed ... The WiFi couldn't reach the whole house, because it's a big house. He put these repeater things, and we still had problems with the internet. He's texting me back and forth, try this, try this, and finally it just wasn't working. He said, "I'll come out on Tuesday. I'll be out in the area." He stops by. Long story short, a wire went bad, so he came to the house. My house is 30 minutes from the office, and it's not in the same town. He replaces the wire, and tells my wife, "I'll get you a bill." She says, "Oh, I'll pay what it was." He said, "The wire's $15." He didn't charge, he drives out to the house 20 minutes away, service call. My wife give him $20 cash, done.
Same thing, we had a HVAC unit issue at the office. I had a great guy, actually, that did all my HVAC for rentals and my house and my office, and he had an injury. He said, "I can't repair this thing." I was calling around, problems getting somebody to come back, get this new guy who finally does it at much less than the estimate $200 when I was calling around to fix this HVAC unit, and he was just getting ready to go, and I said, "You know what? Come on in here. We'll write you the check." So they'll pay him right away.
The flip side is if you have good service providers, treat them really well, but demand that you get the good service. You guys know that I might be a pain, I'm going to call you to get it done, but they know you're going to get paid on time right away, and it's worth it to them. So that's definitely two things to think about there.
The other thing to think about, it's a good opportunity for us, especially if you're in the healthcare field, and really any business. Service is getting so terrible anywhere that you have to be the squeaky wheel. If you give exceptional service, it stands out more than ever. Even if you give mediocre service, for goodness sakes.
Things we talked about in my book is shop in all packages, the Dan Kennedy thing, new patients get mailed a box in the mail with a bunch of goodies in it. We give them a little welcome bag when they come in with a coffee cup and a book in it, and that kind of stuff. If you're giving above average customer service, it's going to stand out more than ever because you're getting worse customer service than ever.
So I want you to think about this squeaky wheel conversation in a couple ways. One, what vendor, supplier, or service provider are you letting get away with not treating you with enough service that you need? Maybe you've got to fire somebody like I just fired my health insurance broker. If you want to know who it is, just email me through the site and I'll let you know.
So whoever you're not getting the proper service from, you need to be the squeaky wheel. Sometimes you've just got to be on people. We ordered Leander tables a couple of years ago, some $10,000 tables, three of them. They were just taking forever. Backed up supply, and we just get in the habit of calling them. We also had an issue with the building that I'm renting for my office, and I just got in the habit of calling the landlord every week at the same time. I called him every Friday at 8:00 until it was repaired. And that's it, he's going to hear from me every week. Sometimes you've got to do that, be really tough on people, tough on vendors, suppliers. Even with your landlord. Don't forget, you're the customer if you're renting. But I do like renting commercial space, actually.
But you're the customer, they're not. So you've got to be tough on them sometimes, as well. So we've got to be tough on a supplier. We can be tougher on a vendor, supplier, or service provider that you're letting get away with not treating you with enough service.
And number two, think about how you can give better service so that you stand out. Again, it's easier than ever. Small things are going to stick out, because like I said, if you're at Target, you're checking yourself out, bagging your own stuff, waiting in line. I mean, it's kind of unbelievable when you think about it, really. You're giving them money to stand in line and bag your own stuff.
So where are you not getting the service you deserve or need and you need to be tougher on your vendors or suppliers or service providers. And think about how you can improve your customer service experience at your clinic, office, small business, whatever you're doing in order to get a little bit better referrals, retention, et cetera by getting better customer service.
So, squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Thanks for listening to Dr. J's Path to Success podcast. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes, and leave us a review. For information, please visit drjamesfedich.com. Dr. James R. Fedich, Clinic Director at Village Family Clinic. His book, 'Secrets of A Million Dollar Clinic' is available on Amazon and online at hackettstownfamilyclinic.com or drjamesfedich.com, www.drjamesfedich.com.