No one’s crystal ball is working very well right now, but there are some possibilities on the horizon that are unmistakable. Arguably, one of the most difficult of those is experiencing another shutdown order.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the U.S. didn’t shut down. Various states issued stay at home and shelter in place orders at different times. Businesses were restricted to varying degrees in different states. We have yet to experience the kind of shutdown that Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Italy, and other countries have gone through.
One view is that there isn’t the political will in Washington for a national shutdown order. A differing view is that rising infection rates and deaths may leave no other option. One thing seems clear; if states or the federal government order lockdowns, they’ll be issued with an eye toward keeping them in place for the least possible amount of time.
Whether that’s two weeks or two months will be determined by a complex interplay of politics, economic necessity, and pandemic statistics. Regardless, smart dentists will start now to prepare their practices to weather any possible shutdown. We all got caught flat footed the first time; this time, there’s ample notice even if the timing is uncertain.
We Could All Use A Win-Win
Preparing to have your practice grind to a halt means that you have to 1) fortify your presence in the market while 2) continuing to make all the money you can while you're open.
This is the time to step up your communication with your existing patients and your prospects. If you have the bandwidth right now, encourage them to schedule quickly. If you’re at capacity, your aim is to provide reassurance that your practice will be there for them, safely, now and in the future. Let them know what kinds of services you should be able to offer during a shutdown, based on previous experience.
Should your market come under any kind of restriction on services, it’s even more important to stay in front of your patients. Many of the practices that didn’t follow this rule during the last round of shutdowns suffered a considerable loss of patients.
When it comes to staying in touch with and in front of your patients and prospects, be sparing in your use of emails. Generally, you’ll do better to focus on building your social media audience.
Social media allows you to provide a mix of helpful clinical information and entertainment in near-real time to a large audience. As a rule, go heavier on the entertainment posts than on clinical posts; the name of the game in social media is engagement. There are only so many times that you can emphasize brushing and flossing before people tune out.
If possible, include anecdotes from you and/or your team members to put human names and faces in front of your audience. Respond to comments and questions promptly to further build engagement. It’s also important to have clear criteria for when you recommend an in-office visit.
If you haven’t yet embraced teledentistry, start now. These virtual consultations are a great way to discover emergency cases and to pre-schedule appointments for after your expected reopening date.
Another round of shutdowns isn’t good news for business, including dentistry, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. Follow the steps above, and reopen strong.
SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.