8 business lessons from Southwest Airlines

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Recently, we boarded the Madow Brothers private jet to head out to Las Vegas for The Best Seminar Ever (TBSE) 2015!

OK -- we don't have a private jet. But, of course, we are flying first class on United Airlines. No -- just kidding. We aren't doing that. But we did spring for "economy plus" on Delta.

Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.

Wait, we're not doing that either. That's right, we will be waiting in the "A" boarding group and hopping on Southwest Airlines.

Why? Well, Southwest certainly has the most nonstop routes from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, which is our home base. But, the fact is, we love flying Southwest. And so do many others, since they are consistently one of the most profitable airlines, according to multiple reports.

So whether you are flying Southwest to Las Vegas or another destination, what can your practice learn from this innovative airline?

1. Consistency is the key

Most airlines own many different kinds of planes. Southwest's entire fleet consists of one type of plane -- the Boeing 737. Every mechanic, pilot, flight attendant, baggage handler, and so on knows this plane inside and out. In your office, every treatment room should be equipped the same, every procedure should be consistently performed, and, most of all, the entire office needs to be "calibrated."

2. Keep it fun

No other airline's personnel makes you laugh during the safety announcements or will say to you, "You must have been flying Delta" if you hobble onto the plane on crutches. The Southwest folks have a serious job and do it well, but they don't take themselves too seriously while doing so.

“If you can't make it simple, start over!”

3. Who comes first?

Southwest's legendary CEO Herb Kelleher proudly proclaimed that his employees come before his passengers, and if they were great employees, he defended them to the end. He knew that the key to great customer service was happy employees. After all, how can someone who hates coming to work treat a passenger well?

Dental practices with a "team comes first" attitude have staff members who love and value their jobs, which invariably leads to excellent patient care.

4. Create a legendary culture

Can you name one thing that differentiates Delta, United, etc. from one another? No. Can you name something (hopefully many things) that differentiates your practice from the others?

5. Do it differently and do it better

If you fly at all, you know that Southwest's boarding procedure is different than any other airline's. When it started, this it was so radical that everyone made fun of the airline. But the company boards its planes faster than every other airline by thinking, "Why not?"

6. Run on time

CBS News reports Southwest to be in the top five for on-time arrivals. Passengers like that. Get it? Run on time!

7. Keep your ideas simple enough to draw on a napkin

The entire airline started with a drawing on a cocktail napkin way back in 1967. It was a triangle linking Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio -- and Southwest has kept it simple ever since. So whether it is a staff bonus plan, a marketing strategy, or a practice management system -- if you can't make it simple, start over!

8. Cultivate loyalty

Everything you do should have patient loyalty in mind.

That's it for today. Hope to see you in Vegas for The Best Seminar Ever.

In 1989, Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS, founded The Madow Brothers with the goal of helping their fellow dentists achieve success and happiness in their practices. For more information about their e-letters, audio series, New Patient Mail marketing program, Dental Powerhouse group, their live presentations (including "How To Love Dentistry, Have Fun, and Prosper," "The Ultimate Dental Boot Camp," and especially "TBSE"), and more, check them out at www.madow.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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