Welcome to 2021! I hope that you and your loved ones have managed to remain healthy and safe throughout the Holiday Season!
Every year at this time, we have likely just finished reflecting on the year that was and are still thinking about the year ahead.
Sadly, no matter which direction we are looking toward, one word dominates the landscape…COVID!
It is a word we would love to never hear again. Unfortunately, all signs indicate it will continue to be the dominant theme for at least the first half of 2021.
That means dreams of returning to a “normal” life will have to wait. When we finally arrive at that time, it may be worthwhile considering whether any of the changes forced upon us may actually have a positive impact long after the pandemic is officially declared to be over.
Even before the pandemic took hold, some dental offices already embraced new ways to look at the business of dentistry. They were looking at technology, leadership, branding, marketing, human resource management and training in a different light from past generations of dentists.
They invested in training for themselves and their teams or took advantage of incredible DIY Digital Consulting programs to guide them. They hired outside services to help with marketing and/or HR management. Some even joined buying groups as a way to control their expenses while protecting their independent, private practices.
That does not mean Covid did not impact these forward-thinking offices. Lockdowns affected everyone. Some plans were put on hold…some accelerated…and some new ideas had to be developed. However, having already given more thought to their business operations, some of these practices were able to adapt more readily.
For other practices, “necessity”, as the saying goes, became “the motherhood of invention”. The pandemic laid bare the stark reality that strategies that led to success in the 90’s are no longer as effective today.
Covid related labour shortages proved to be one of the greatest motivators for change. The fear associated with Covid made some team members reluctant to return to work when offices re-opened. Some of those who did return did so only if their salaries were increased beyond what many dentists could afford.
Dentists were forced to do something they have historically avoided doing…hiring people with no dental experience and training them. Candidates from the hospitality industry proved to be popular. While they may have lacked dental knowledge, they brought with them a wealth of training in customer service. And many offices were pleasantly surprised by the positive impact this created, particularly at a time when patient relationships were that much more important!
Look for this trend to continue as dentists realize the value of great “customer” service often outweighs the cost of providing training on those aspects unique to dentistry. It is a bigger commitment up front for an office to make. However, it can more than pay for itself if done correctly.
Dentists with a strong online presence also managed better in this crisis. They were accustomed to using their websites and social media as a means of communication, both within their teams and with their patients.
Expect this trend to continue and grow. Use that presence as a way to show potential patients you are a compassionate health care provider. Provide free information and tips promoting greater oral healthcare awareness. Highlight your greater role in the community by showcasing charitable endeavours you support. Make your community care part of your brand!
And find creative solutions on other fronts. If the pandemic has impacted your budget such that hiring a consultant is only a dream right now, DIY consulting models can be a great second choice.
Joining a buying group that has a long history and track record of providing great savings and service can also provide incredible savings while freeing up your team to work on more productive tasks that increase revenue…let the buying group focus on saving you money. A good buying group can also provide a sense of community that provides great educational resources and can alleviate the feeling that you are doing this all on your own…a common concern expressed by many in private practice.
For many dentists, moving in this direction may represent a significant change in their mindset. However, there are simply times that we must recognize the more things change, the more they should not remain the same!
About the Author
Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.