Be a Puerto Rican Cowboy!

Say whaaaa?  It’s been a good while since I’ve written.  I’ve been rather distracted and uninspired.  I’ve also been busy with “life,” not the least of which is dealing with my daughter’s leukemia diagnosis and treatment.  I’m also a busy hockey dad.

Two nights ago, my son and I stopped at a Longhorn’s Steakhouse restaurant on the way home from a hockey tournament.  We’ve been there many times before.  The food is consistently good and reasonably priced.  So, we didn’t expect anything new or extraordinary.  We were hungry, and it was on the way home.

Actor Luis Guzman (from Puerto Rico), not our waiter. I'll try to get a pic of him next time we visit Longhorn's.

Actor Luis Guzman (from Puerto Rico), not our waiter. I’ll try to get a pic of him next time we visit Longhorn’s.

We were seated by the hostess and soon after, our waiter showed up.  He enthusiastically introduced himself as the “Puerto Rican Cowboy.”  Mmmm-kay.   He was one of those high-energy servers who just seemed to enjoy his job.  Along with the usual server banter and efforts to make sure we had what we needed (keeping drinks topped off, etc.), he would throw in a few words in Spanish… words that most non-speakers know like, “Gracias.”

When we got the bill, he signed off, so-to-speak, by repeating his moniker, “I’m the Puerto Rican Cowboy… buenas noches!” 

It’s all brand-bearings these days.

Pardon my “Fletch.”   😉   So, what’s the point of this story?  First, he was a great waiter.  He was attentive, enthusiastic, and courteous.  OK… we’ve all had great restaurant servers.  So what?  What else did he do?  He BRANDED himself!  In a single encounter, he created his own brand (and his own “business”) within the Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant.  He is an entrepreneur of sorts.

If he had just introduced himself like all other restaurant servers, I would never have remembered his name.  If he had recited the requisite “My name is George, and I’ll be your server.  What can I get you to drink?”, the experience would have been unremarkable (even if good service), and I would not have remembered his name 10 seconds later.  But, you can bet next time we go back, we will remember and ask for the “Puerto Rican Cowboy!”  Freakin’ brilliant!

Show me the money!

As a former waiter myself, I know that repeat customers are where you make your real tip money.  Customers who know you and like you always leave nice tips!  Get a Saturday night section full of those customers, and it can add up.  I’ll bet this guy cleans up every shift.

Write your own script!

Dentists, like restaurant servers, tend to default to the “normal” behavior and standard script.  We all do the same thing and say the same things, for the most part.  Accordingly, most of us are unremarkable.  Some of us make an effort to be remarkable with exemplary service and attention to our patients’ needs.  But, do our patients enthusiastically refer their friends?  Sure… some do.  But, why?  The more “whys” we give them, the more they’ll refer, and the more they’ll be motivated to return themselves.

How can you be a “Puerto Rican Cowboy?”  If a waiter can brand himself, can you?

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12 Responses to Be a Puerto Rican Cowboy!

  1. Linda Miles says:

    Hi Mike,
    Loved your blog this morning! You are so right….this experience will make you always ask for the Puerto Rican Cowboy. Right again, as fir dentists and other business people, branding is king. Standing out in the crowd works magic. Sending good wishes to Lia and your family.

  2. Brian K. Van Netta, DDS says:

    Hi Mike and Happy New Year. I hope all is moving in a positive direction with your daughter and it’s good to see you back on the air. I feel your post gives us important insight into human nature and customer service. I notice stuff like that as well. Here’s what I feel is central theme: you have to like people and you have to really be sincere. Then, it won’t matter what type of job you have because that inner, sincere attitude will just naturally flow out of you and it will certainly influence those around you. That’s the whole secret.

    The world is full of people who are miserable and they pass that on to those they come in contact with. It’s obvious often, but even when it’s subtle, you can still pick up the vibe. Dentists are no different. A lot of us like dentistry because of the mechanical, problem-solving aspect. But guess what we really didn’t expect? All kinds of people with all kinds of personalities come attached to those teeth. You have to be comfortable dealing with people, you have to like dealing with people, and most importantly, you have to be sincere when you do it.

    Miserable doctors attract miserable staff members and then it seems the office attracts miserable patients. I think scripts serve a purpose, but if not executed with absolute sincerity, it won’t work. Some skills can be learned, others can be honed, but if one truly doesn’t like people, there probably isn’t an easy fix. Maybe an isolated cubicle in the back-forty would have been a better choice. But as you suggest, if you have that core sincerity, then sharpen your skills and create that brand. It will absolutely be effective.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Great points, Brian. Yeah… many dentists would be better off if patients could drop their teeth off like dry cleaning, eh? 😉 I always say a big reason I enjoy going to the office is to SOCIALIZE with my patients… sometimes too much! 🙂

  3. Jordan says:

    Great read! I will be praying for your daughter Lia.

  4. Based on the title I was expecting a gun related blog post : ). With that said, great advice. Dentistry tends to be a “by the book” conservative, community, so standing out should be a little bit easier IMO.

  5. Lolabees says:

    Good observation. Just curious… are you The Dental Warrior to your patients? That could work very well!

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      No. “The Dental Warrior” is my “nom de guerre” for this blog, which is targeted at an audience of dentists. This blog isn’t for patients / consumers.

      As for this article, the point wasn’t so much that we need a catchy name to stand out. Rather, we just need to stand out in SOME way. 🙂

      Maybe I could call myself “The Kick-ass Dentist!” 😉

  6. David Moffet says:

    Wonderful blog about how this waiter went beyond the expected to be truly memorable. A stroke of genius! Not so difficult to do in most industries, simply because no-one else really is making that extra effort.
    Hats off to the Puerto Rican Cowboy! Well played!
    You’ll be back, looking for him, and asking for him.
    Winner. Winner.

  7. It’s the best way to create a memorable experience!!! I’m sure it created and memorable and comfortable experience for you and your son.

    Being that most patients are leary of the dentist, this is a great idea for dentists to use to make their patients feel comfortable and at ease. Plus an added benefit of this is being memorable!! What’s the point of having new patients if they don’t remember the experience and WANT to come back.

    Thank you for the great article, it makes you really take a look at what makes you stand out and what qualities you can bring to the table… pun intended!

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      I love a good pun! 😉

      Thanks for your comment! I try to make every patient laugh at least once. I have quite the repertoire of corny dental puns and jokes. 🙂 Just today, after taking an impression I told the patient, “You made a good first impression!” She laughed out loud. I smiled and said, “Old material. New audience.”

      Also today… after a procedure, I asked the patient, “How was that?” Replies, “Good!” Then I said, “I didn’t feel a thing.” And, this patient came back with, “That’s because I couldn’t reach you!”

      I try to have fun with patients… even if only to amuse myself!

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