5 Tips to Get Back on Track with Practice Growth
Like many businesses around the world, your dental practice has had a serious setback with the recent closure. Now, as you are poised to reopen or as you walk through your first days fully open, you might find yourself still in crisis mode, waiting for the next round of reinfection and forced closures with dread sitting in the pit of your stomach as an uncomfortable reminder of the uncertain times we live in.
Little feels like business as usual, but your practice needs you to be proactively considering the future and firming up its foundations to ride through this crisis. Where do you start?
Here are five things to consider as you move through the next several weeks.
1. Acknowledge where you’re at.
Before you begin planning for the future of your dental practice once again, take a look at where you are right now.
Assess your financial situation. Take a look at your case acceptance rate prior to shutdown. Examine your cases to determine where you are with collections. Knowing where you stand will allow you to pivot where needed and make your efforts more effective. Data is foundational to making informed, strategic decisions.
Also acknowledge how you’re feeling right now. Are you scared for the health of your practice members? Are you afraid you’ll have to shut the doors permanently if patients don’t return soon? Confront your fears. Talk with a trusted advisor, friend, or family member—whoever will listen and hear what you’re saying. Take a walk, breathing deep from your belly. Write it all down. Do what works for you to calm your fears and refocus your mind from the crisis of the moment to moving forward strategically.
2. Refine your communication processes.
Have you had a hard time reaching out to patients during the shutdown because you’re not sure how? Perhaps you’ve never communicated with your patients via email or text before except through the automated system with appointment reminders. Now is a great time to change that.
Brainstorm ways to stay in regular contact with your patients moving forward. You can provide helpful information that lets your patients know you are thinking about them and care for their well-being.
Make sure you’re also communicating with your team. Let them know where things stand and your vision for the future. Reassure them that you are committed and are being strategic in determining the next steps for your practice. Outline new procedures and everyone’s role in the success of the practice.
And if you don’t have a system in place to send out automated appointment reminders and new patient forms, what better time than now to set that up?
3. Evaluate your payment options.
People from all walks of life are concerned about their finances. Those who would typically pay out-of-pocket may be reluctant to do so right now. Examine your payment options to be sure your office is ready to help those who are spending conservatively. Make sure your team understands the options, such as CareCredit, and is ready to outline the details to patients.
Additionally, look internally at your payment options. Are you still accepting certain insurance plans that pay you less than it costs you to collect payment? As recommended, your practice is spreading out appointments so patients can effectively practice social distancing, so you need to optimize every appointment. That means it might be time to dump the insurance plans that don’t pay you and your team for your time and expertise.
4. Delegate and develop leaders from your team.
There’s a lot on your shoulders, but you can share some of the day-to-day responsibility with team members. You’ve watched individual team members grow and learn new skills. Now is the perfect time to help team members regain a sense of control over their professional lives with new leadership roles.
Delegate the things others can do. Focus only on what you can do. But be sure to provide team members with the tools they need to be successful in their roles. Most often, the only tool needed is information. Communicate the goal, your expectations, and any existing processes clearly. Encourage team members to create processes that work for everyone involved and allow for accountability.
5. Develop a sustainable marketing strategy.
Has your primary strategy to reach new patients focused on paid advertising? If you look at the ROI for the ads, you will discover that they’re not paying for themselves in new business.
Ditch the ads for an organic marketing approach.
What is organic marketing? It’s an ad-free approach that concentrates on creating connection points with potential patients by increasing your online presence. Valuable information and content, such as blog posts, social media posts, and a website that is built to offer patients and potential patients the best user experience, are key in this approach.
Organic marketing works. While it might be a term you’ve only heard recently, it’s an approach to marketing that has been around for more than a century. It has withstood the test of time with reliable, repeatable results.
Pivot your practice’s marketing efforts. There are sustainable options that will pay for themselves and more.
Firming Up Your Foundation
A successful practice is data-driven, communicative, effective, and financially stable. Focus on those foundational principles as you move forward in this time of recovery.
It is possible to thrive in a challenging time, and Jameson’s very existence is proof of that. Dr. John Jameson was a practicing dentist in a blue-collar town hit hard by a severe economic downturn. Dr. Cathy Jameson developed new systems and a strategic approach that turned the practice around. Not only did the practice survive the economic downturn, it thrived and grew. You can, too.
Here are a few resources to help you in your efforts:
- What is Organic Marketing?
- Presenting Large Cases: Making Use of Time, Tools, and Space
- How to Honor Your Patient and Overcome Patient Objections Simultaneously
- 5 Steps to Put You on the Path to a Million Dollar Dental Practice
- Developing Your Dental Practice with Marketing Help: A Case Study
Keep an eye on our resources specifically designed for the new normal we’re all navigating. We’re updating the coronavirus resource page as we have more information to share.
We wish you, your family, and your dental practice family well. We’re here to help you, so please reach out.
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