There’s this famous quote by Roger Crawford: “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more than 90% of dental offices across the country permanently or temporarily closing.
However, there is a difference between this pandemic and all other challenges your practice has faced in the past. This time, no practice is unaffected. Therefore, only some practices will inevitably be able to come out of this downtime and be successful. So what makes a dental practice successful during this tough time?
In this article, we are going to go through some strategies and mindsets that dental professionals need to have in order to not just guarantee the survival of their offices, but also to come out on top amongst the competition, retain their revenue, patient base, and thrive after this restriction is over.
What Makes a Dental Successful during this Pandemic
1. Have a constant drive to improve and make changes
We believe that during this downtime, there are two types of practice owners. First are those who relax and watch Netflix every day while waiting for a patient to call asking for emergency treatment. Second are those that use this current downtime to reevaluate their practices, personnel, system, and vision. This downtime can be considered to be a rare opportunity, since such instances to reevaluate can be rare during your busy everyday life.
At pH Dental, we strongly believe that dentists who have a constant drive to improve will be able to come back stronger than ever when restrictions are lifted. On top of that, dentists should be ready to make changes and be open-minded. After your practice reopens, everything will be different. It will be more difficult to persuade patients to schedule appointments. Additionally, cross-contamination prevention will become a top priority.
Successful offices are the ones that have already adopted new practices and strategies, not as temporary solutions, but as stable strategies for them to move forward in the future. For instance, practices are looking at teledentistry as a way to stay connected with their patients and earn additional revenue. Additionally, dentists are learning about medical billing, which is a fairly uncommon payment practice within the dental industry pre-COVID-19. Medical billing is legal and offers substantial benefits for dental offices, such as an increase in revenue and case acceptance rates.
Finally, successful dental professionals at this time know that it is a perfect opportunity to expand their knowledge. There are plenty of free courses and webinars online to learn about new dental techniques and technologies. Moreover, dentists could learn about many other things than just dentistry, such as business strategies, leadership, and psychology.
To learn more about dental office improvements practices could make during this downtime, read our article.
2. Don’t neglect marketing
Neglecting marketing is probably the most common and critical mistake that dental practices could make at this moment.
Investing in marketing right now allows offices to stay connected with their customers and build trust. Practices that are staying healthy during this time off are the ones that use this downtime to perfect their website and boost their online presence, taking advantage of their competitors not investing in marketing. With a correct marketing strategy, practices can increase their follower base, or even better, steal patients from other practices.
Dentists could also do marketing with a tight budget. Social media marketing can be done inhouse and is mostly free. While website design and SEO might be difficult to do by yourself and may need assistance from outside sources, you could use content marketing, which is also free, to improve SEO and website performance.
3. Know the importance of great people management
The success of your practice depends a lot on your team of dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, office managers, and receptionists. During this downtime, like your patients, it is highly likely that your team members also face difficulties and stress. In order to keep spirit high, try to reach out frequently and show them how much you care about them.
Secondly, now is a great time to improve your system, reorganize responsibilities, and create new operating procedures for everything. Next, it is important to give your team a clear direction. Whether you decide to put your team on furlough or not, let your team know about your game plan, such as when they are expected to return to work, or what their responsibilities are after the practice is reopened. Moreover, you can use this downtime for staff training via telecommunication platforms.
Finally, the recognition and celebration of staff work must be addressed. Recognition is vital because people derive self-worth from their jobs. The contribution and importance of their roles must be appreciated and respected, especially for the team members who are still working hard despite the risk of infection.
4. Prepare for your return
In addition to what you can improve right away, practices need to prepare for the moment when restrictions end and things go back to normal. For instance, try to answer the following questions:
- How to let our patients know that we have reopened?
- How to make sure that our patients feel safe when receiving dental care?
- How to make sure that the risk of cross-contamination is low?
There are plenty of questions that offices should address right away. Because after all, the better you prepare, the better chance you have in beating your competition. Firstly, besides your standard infection prevention practices, offices now need a much more detailed guideline to prevent cross-contamination during dental care. For example, offices will need to have a dental suction system in their operatories and 1.5% hydrogen peroxide for patients to use before each procedure. Read our step-by-step guide for dental practices to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection here.
Additionally, you want to make sure that your patients understand how your practice is going to operate in a safer way after reopening. Practices could use social media or email marketing to let patients know about your new infection control protocols.
Finally, practices should go over their insurance companies and PPO to strategize how to renegotiate with each company in order of reimbursement amount.
5. Set a new goal
Like we have stated above, everything will be different after the restriction ends. Therefore, practices must make changes to their goals. Goals are powerful. They provide motivation, boost morale, and allow your practice to have a clear focus on business efforts. It’s best to have a set of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals.
6. Be optimistic
Lastly, always be optimistic. This will be our final answer to the question of what makes a dental practice successful during COVID-19. We know that the current situation is difficult, but it is going to get better. Moreover, it will be even better if you can spread optimism to the community.
Practices could use social media to share positive news and inspiring stories to your followers. It will not be an investment without returns. If you can support the community during this tough time, patients will trust and believe in your practices. They will remember your practice the next time they need to set a dental appointment.
At pH Dental, our team is always ready to support dentists as much as we can. Remember to follow us on social media and check our blog regularly for constant helpful content like this article. And don’t forget to share this blog with other dental professionals out there.
We are in this together!