Just over 20 years ago on a hot July afternoon, I sat down in my soon-to-be-opened dental office and interviewed a young woman for the catchall position of Office Administrator/Dental Assistant. Having just graduated from dental school and therefore knowing everything there is to know about everything, I had the crazy idea that I would “hang out a shingle” and start my own dental practice from scratch, and needed someone to help me run things in a bootstrap manner until we had enough warm bodies in the chairs to hire more help.
It helped that I had graduated from the same high school a couple of years ahead of her, and so knew her. It also helped that she was recommended to me by my mother-in-law, who, for every 100 “recommendations” she comes up with, actually produces a gem. So, I hired her, thinking that if she would just stick with me for a couple of years—she was getting married and moving to another town nearby—that I should be able to get my feet planted enough to actually make a go of dental practice.
She’s still here. For the last 20 years, Cindy Chapman has made a 50-minute drive to my office, four days a week, to work for a demanding, Type-A dentist who’s long on ideas, and short on patience and listening skills….20 years.
What do you do for someone who has shown so much loyalty to you? What do you say to someone who has given so much to your practice? Gifts of any magnitude seem lacking. Although I would have gladly offered up some bling—I give my staff diamonds at the 5-, 10-, and 15-year marks—Cindy wanted something more practical (typical Cindy), so I outfitted her with a nice Nikon camera setup to feed her photography bug.
Maybe most important though, and hopefully this is enough, I gave Cindy a heartfelt hug and said, “Thank you, Cindy. Thank you for 20 great years and for a job well done!”