Do You Really Want to Wing It?

by Shawn Peers, DentalPeers

We know the world is showing signs of re-opening and that is a time for cautious optimism. Cautious because it seems we have been down this path before only to have a new variant push us back.

But optimism may feel strong as maybe…just maybe…this time we will be in a better position to avoid any setbacks.

With more and more dental events taking place live and in-person, now just may be the time for dentistry to truly come back!

That may seem a strange statement to some. After all, we know that dentistry enjoyed a strong recovery after the initial lockdowns of 2020. Unfortunately, we are still dealing with a COVID hangover that does not want to go away.

The primary aspects we can expect to deal with for some time to come will be supply chain issues and labour shortages.

It may seem like there is not a lot we can do about these issues. We cannot solve supply chain issues that are not limited to dentistry. Shortages and higher prices are everywhere as evidenced by inflation rates we have not seen in decades.

Similarly, labour shortages are not just affecting the dental profession. The Great Resignation is across the board as people are keen to create a different balance in their working and personal lives.

While we cannot correct these issues, what is your plan for dealing with them? If you do not have a plan, you will be winging it and do you really want to wing it?

If your past practice has not included very close monitoring of your supply inventory, perhaps it is time to change that. You need to make sure you have a system whereby someone is on top of everything you have in your office.

In fact, your entire team must have a way to communicate their needs when they feel you are running low on critical supplies. “I told her to order” is NOT a system!

Keep your sales reps close at this time. They can let you know if there are supply chain issues coming that might impact your office. The more open you remain with them, the more informed and better off you will be.

And, please, do not resort to grey market products to fill in any gaps. The risk to your reputation is just too great.

Perhaps you could consider a supply update in your morning huddle. This would allow you to compare upcoming supply needs to treat specific patients with any concerns you have regarding supplies. Again, don’t just wing it if you do this; create a checklist that allows you to cover what you may need to review quickly and efficiently.

The huddle will be even more critical for the labour shortages we are facing. If you are short staffed, the huddle may be your best time to look at your day (plus a day or two ahead), assess your needs and determine your strategy for addressing things.

Again, no winging it! Create another checklist detailing your process for reviewing team shortages and how you might address them. Keep in mind this may mean having some people picking up the slack in areas they have not been cross-trained in (yes, it can be that bad in some offices!).

Have your team members review the job descriptions and policy manuals for guidance on what they may have to do to cover another position. But do you know what else is handy?

A checklist of some of the most vital tasks you will want them to prioritize as they adapt to pitching in! Again, don’t wing it! Don’t assume they will know the best procedures for opening or closing your office make it easy for them.

We know we will be dealing with a lot of ups and downs as the world rights itself from the past two years. Some we can anticipate; others may be entirely unexpected. Even when you face the unexpected, you adapt far more rapidly if you have a plan.

Don’t just wing it! Write it down!

About the Author

Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.