SWOT analysis (or SWOT matrix) is a simple, yet powerful business tool that allows businesses to develop strategies and make decisions based on an assessment of their internal and external factors. These factors include strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By analyzing these factors, businesses can better access their own internal capabilities, competition, and industry conditions.
Big and small companies across the world use SWOT. And we highly recommend every dental practice to conduct a SWOT analysis too. However, SWOT analysis is not a one-time thing. A practice should conduct this analysis annually, especially after an event like COVID-19. After a crisis, a practice’s internal factors, competition, and market capabilities will definitely change.
We have already mentioned in one of our previous articles that COVID-19 could potentially make or break a dental practice. Practices that don’t have strong internal capabilities and that are conservative to changes will likely struggle. On the other hand, dental offices that actively maintain their capabilities and adopt new practices mainstreamed by coronavirus fear will likely thrive. For example, COVID-19 has created a surge in demand for teledentistry and aerosol prevention technologies. Moreover, there has been a big emphasis on the need for proper infection control protocols.
Dental Industry SWOT Analysis
Strengths are characteristics of the business that give it an advantage over the competition. Before COVID-19, the strengths of a dental practice might include its human and equipment resources, location, information technology, patient base, recognition, etc. However, these strengths need reassessment because they might not stay the same.
For example, dental offices are very likely to lose some of their dental team members. Some offices decided to put staff on furlough, and are facing difficulty in bringing them back. At some dental offices, staff refuse to come back to work, especially since dental professionals are one of the professions with the highest risk of COVID-19 infection. Additionally, practice’s patient base will likely decrease as well, since dental patients also fear cross-contamination when visiting a dental environment. Patients who often visit your practice for regular check-ups might not even come back.
The disturbance in human resources could also hurt a practice’s recognition and online presence. For instance, many dental offices halted their marketing efforts and abandoned their websites during the crisis.
On the other hand, some dental offices have managed to create new strengths that allow them to stand out from the competition. Like we mentioned earlier, these offices perfect their infection control procedures, implement new aerosol control methods, and opt to offer teledentistry. By constantly looking for improvements, these offices adapt to market trends and stay ahead of the competition. We have seen dental offices that, instead of stopping doing marketing, focus much more effort in social media marketing, search engine optimization, and perfecting their website design. These dental offices take advantage of these strategies because online activities increase during the lockdown period to boost awareness and build patient loyalty.
To assess the strengths of your practice, simply ask the following questions:
- What are we doing better than our competitors?
- What factors do we have that our competitors don’t have?
Weaknesses are characteristics of the business that place the business at a disadvantage relative to others. Those that you have prior to COVID-19 will likely stay the same. Some even expand. Some weaknesses could be a lack of patients, not enough team members, limited services, no PPOs, poor website design, etc. Many dental offices are facing financial problems, which hinder their progress in finding new staff and reinvesting in marketing.
COVID-19 has created a new set of weaknesses that many dental offices never have before. We have never faced such a shortage of personal protective equipment, and these equipment are essential if a dental practice wants to go back to work. A higher emphasis on infection control also requires dental offices to adopt new practices. For example, offices are expected to add a screening – disinfection process after each dental treatment. These activities can reduce the number of time offices spend on providing dental care, thus leading to a decrease in income.
Moreover, to ensure safety, dental offices need the extra money to spend on capital equipment such as extraoral/intraoral suction systems, air purifiers, filters, electrostatic sprayers, cleaners, etc. A lack of these equipment may create a disadvantage for dental offices among the competition.
To assess the weaknesses, aks the following questions:
- What are our competitors doing better than us?
- What can we improve in our practice?
- Are there any problems that keep recurring?
Opportunities are elements in the environment that a business could exploit to its advantage. Some of your opportunities might stay the same post-COVID-19, such as a lack of competition in your area or new development in digital dentistry. However, coronavirus has created many new opportunities that the dental industry has never seen before.
First of all, we have seen a surge in the demand for teledentistry. Teledentistry allows dental professionals to provide dental care remotely and remove cross-contamination risks for both the dentists and the patients. We have seen a large increase in the popularity of searches for online dental consulting on Google. Ever since the pandemic started, teledentistry has become stable in many dental offices. Many even consider keeping implementing it ever after restrictions end.
Secondly, the future of dentistry will be clean and clear. Dental procedures using high-speed rotating instruments release a lot of aerosol particles to the air, increasing the risk of cross-contamination for dental professionals and patients. Coronavirus has created an increase in popularity and demand for equipment that could prevent aerosols or filter airborne pathogens. Like we mentioned above, these include extraoral/intraoral suction systems, air purifiers, filters, and electrostatic sprayers. An increase in the popularity of these equipment creates opportunities for dental offices to position their practices with “clean air dentistry.” Practices could use these new infection control methods to attract new patients and build trust through marketing efforts.
Finally, there could be other opportunities that dental offices could see, such as less competition, reduced labor costs, reduced supply costs, reduced rent, etc.
To find the current opportunities for your practice, ask the following questions:
- What are the current trends of the dental industry that could benefit us?
- What technologies are available that could help us improve our practice?
Lastly, threats are elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your business. The coronavirus pandemic alone has been one of the biggest threats the dental industry has ever seen. Since dental care requires exposure to the patients’ body fluids, dentists are always at a high risk of infection. COVID-19 has also created other threats such as an economic slowdown, short supply of loans, strict regulations for safety concerns. Moreover, patients are more reluctant to visit a dental office since they fear the risk of infection and have lower income.
To find the threats for your practice, ask the following question:
- What external factors could hurt our business?
Remember to do your SWOT analysis during this time to decide what you need to do, what you should not do, what to focus on, and what to give up on. COVID-19 is definitely hurting your business. But at the end of the day, it can also create new opportunities for you to beat the competition.
Don’t forget to share this article on social media.