Seven guidelines for creating a strong practice turnaround and recovery
By Roger P. Levin
After a long period of shutdown, orthodontic practices are now fully in a recovery mode that is characterized by a three-phase timeline. The first phase is pent-up demand that will last for about 3 months. The second phase is declining production that requires the orthodontist and team to rely on underlying fundamentals of the orthodontic practice. Finally, the third phase is the recovery phase where orthodontic practices will begin to build back up.
We know from previous recessions that the number of new orthodontic patients will decline, putting pressure on practice production and revenue. To have a successful recovery, there are 7 C’s that orthodontic practices should be focused on for a better, faster, and deeper recovery.
Reach out to staff, patients, vendors, bankers, landlords, insurance agents, and others. We have numerous clients that contacted every single patient to check in on them since this crisis started. This went a long way toward building incredible relationships and increasing referrals when the practice reopened.
Practices with cash will be able to recover faster and better. We are currently recommending that practices accumulate 4 months of cash over the next 12 to 18 months to help protect themselves against another shutdown or crisis. Move that cash to a separate account for reserves only, and if it’s never used it can be taken as income.
The COVID-19 crisis will affect everyone in different ways. Some staff members will need to check on their families throughout the day. Some patients will be afraid to come in. Certain staff members could even experience meltdowns during the day. None of this is weakness. It’s now part of the new normal and you must be compassionate, understanding, and helpful.
Orthodontic practices have two sets of customers: patients and referring doctors. It’s essential to focus on both and we are recommending that orthodontic practices raise the importance of referrals from referring doctors to a higher level than ever before. They will be critical in sending patients to help orthodontic practices recover and thrive. Once patients are in the door, customer service will be paramount. Creating convenient appointment times, offering financial options, and assuring patients that the practice is safe will all help practices successfully recover.
During a recovery, practices should organize, streamline, and rethink all their systems. Everything should be questioned, and all waste (time and money) should be eliminated. Why? Efficient and organized practices have the faster and better recoveries. Staff members must focus only on actions that will allow for a strong recovery and complete those tasks on time. Cleaning up systems during a crisis is one of the best actions that can be taken.
During and after a crisis, people have many emotions, anxieties, and concerns. And although not everyone will act and react as they would in the past, the leader should always stay calm. Even if the leader feels concern or anxiety, being calm and steady gives great confidence to other people. Make sure to bring a calm, relaxed, and confident attitude to work every day.
People always remember who was considerate to them and greatly appreciate it. So, of course, consideration, politeness, and kindness will help you to build outstanding relationships that will assist in the recovery. As one orthodontic patient said to one of our clients: “You all have been so nice. I’m going to tell everyone to come here.” Consideration will be remembered by others and does make a true difference.
The 7 C’s are wonderful guidelines for creating a strong practice turnaround and recovery. Not all practices will turn around and not all turnarounds will happen at the same rate. However, those that do follow the 7 C’s will find recovery easier, faster, and more thorough. OP
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email email@example.com.