Leading up to the summer vacation in 2023, most dental clinics were busy.
Across countries and regions, the perceived busyness has generally been replaced by decreased activity. In particular, regular check-ups seem to have been affected... so far.
This post is about how you get ready to transition your dental practice to a different kind of activity when the need arises.
We'll cover 6 specific development steps, 7 concrete examples of possible improvements and 3 ways you can make changes that free up time and resources for the most important things in life.
With the autumn holidays behind us, it's been a while since most dental clinics have experienced a significant drop in activity. Several practice owners have considered reducing employee hours in order to align their expenses with their revenue.
Reducing staff hours can be an option. However, it comes with a certain risk that the employee will choose to find another job. Fortunately, there are other options that are just as interesting to consider.
There are some recurring themes that are interesting to consider when you experience changes in demand.
Practice owners lack time
In my conversations with dental practice owners, I often hear frustrations about a sense of lack of time.
Time to deal with the bureaucracy and everything that comes with running a dental practice.
But just as much time for the most important things in most people's lives: themselves, their children, spouse, family and friends. Many dentists feel trapped in a hamster wheel they struggle to get out of.
Either there's too much to do, which drains energy.
Or there's too little to do, which drains finances.
I see that as an unhealthy development.
The dental industry is being challenged
The lack of time, energy and the feeling of not getting a fair reward for your efforts is one of the things we are working hard to change in our course in Italy.
It's normal for any industry to go through ups and downs. The challenge in the dental industry is that for 50 years or more, the industry has not allowed service prices to follow the general price development in society. This puts increasing pressure on practice profitability, which is reflected in downturns. In other words, we need to perform at 110% or more to keep the practice running smoothly.
This is unhealthy for the business, its employees and the owner(s).
Avoid burning out
However, that doesn't mean you should give up. There are ways to become profitable with less time-consuming effort. If dental clinics are to survive, it is necessary to move in this direction. The alternative is for employees and owner/owners to burn out. Which ultimately hurts both the clinic and the patients.
Unique opportunities for dental practices
It is not necessarily possible to raise prices overnight. When activity levels drop, as in the current situation, it understandably creates nervousness and anxiety.
On the other hand, it's also in these times of change that unique opportunities arise. Those practice owners who are able to embrace change, identify and capitalize on opportunities will have a successful future. The question is: How do you do it?
Here are some possible focus points:
The practice owner (involuntarily) frees up time to think about the future and the direction in which the practice should move.
Should we be bigger or more exclusive?
Should we cut the number of employees or the terms of employment?
Can we improve our communication with patients?
Can we do something to raise prices?
Can we offer our patients better basic care?
Are there treatment options we should offer that we haven't focused on in the past?
Can we improve the practice brand and thereby attract more patients who are a good fit for us?
Of the possible paths the practice can take, the one that best fits the practice owner's vision is selected.
A plan for change is drawn up, including an explanation of why this path has been chosen.
The blueprint for change is presented to the staff, who help develop a plan for implementing the changes.
A timeline is created, budgets (both time and money) are allocated and a date for follow-up is set.
Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.
Get your invested time back many times over
Freeing up time to make these considerations often doesn't feel very conducive to operations. After all, lost production translates into a financial loss. It's tempting to think that lost time never comes back.
But if I tell you that if used correctly, it can lead to a future gain that outweighs the lost time and money many, many times over.
Your dental office's unique potential
Since every dental clinic is unique, what is the right thing to work with is different for each one.
In some clinics, it's a greater focus on prevention.
In others, it's the implementation of perio treatment.
Others are starting to develop more comprehensive treatment plans for their patients.
Some are investing the time they have available to train together as a team, so they are better equipped to help their patients better when things turn around.
Some create systems and structures that improve the patient experience and therefore treatment acceptance. Others cut to the bone and see how much they can save.
Take care of your comfort zone
What's right for you and your dental practice is a question only you can answer.
In general, however, I would point to a single challenge most of us face: We stay within our comfort zone and choose the easy solutions.
Typically, we have chosen to pursue a strategy that has given us a sense of success for several years. In other words, we're already really good at this. (E.g. saving money, or developing yourself and/or staff, or similar).
In the current situation, it's important to be aware of an important detail as a manager: What you're already good at rarely leads to the biggest improvements. At least not if you don't simultaneously spend as many resources on improving what you normally focus on the least. Or generally don't work on at all.
On the contrary, the areas you don't normally focus on hold far greater potential.
However, it requires the following:
Knowledge of how to go about it - this is new and uncharted territory.
Time... which most practice owners struggle to find. (But which is actually very easy to find when you know where to look)
3 ways dental practice owners are guaranteed to find more time
Want to know what you can do in your unique situation to make more time for yourself, your children, your spouse, your family and your friends without having to compromise on quality and finances? Here are 3 options:
I would definitely recommend gathering a team of 14-16 colleagues and go to Italy with my team and I, where you will have 6 days of time to feel and think about what is right for you, your life and your clinic. 3 different instructors, each with their own specialty, are ready to help you 24/7. All of them have a passion for helping you. Plus, you'll be with like-minded colleagues who can help put your challenges into perspective and give them a new angle. We only have 16 spots on the course, as we want to give each participant maximum value.
You can of course read a lot of the blog posts I've posted over the years. However, it takes a lot of self-discipline to sit down and make the plans and implement the changes on your own. When you have to sit down and do dental work at the same time.
Of course, you can also start by writing or calling me to talk about the possibilities I see for your clinic. It's easy and doesn't cost anything. .
I've described 6 concrete development steps, 7 concrete examples of possible improvements and 3 concrete ways you can create changes that will free up time and resources for what you find most important in life.
Let's be clear from the start: I can't change you. Only you can do that. So now it's up to you to create the changes that will bring you the most value.
Enjoy the ride.
Ready for more leadership, communication and branding for dentists?
Then click the button below and sign up for the blog.
That way, you'll be sure to get access to the latest content.
See you in the next blog post.
Dentist & Consultant
P: +41 78 268 0078
"At Hatt Consulting, we understand that dentists and practice owners have big dreams and goals for their practice. We are dedicated to helping you turn your ambitions into reality through personalized consulting, tailored online and in-house practice training.
Our experienced team of dental industry experts specialize in supporting dentists and practice owners to succeed on their own terms. We believe in creating a strong connection between your personal values and your practice vision, so you can create balance and well-being in both your personal and professional life.
Whether you want to improve leadership skills, optimize practice operations or build an exceptional patient experience, we are here to guide and support you on your journey. We offer tailored solutions to suit your unique needs and goals.
Contact us today and let's create a strategy together to help you achieve your dreams and create a successful and sustainable clinic. Let's work together towards a future where you thrive as a dentist and practice owner."