Dental Practices have been essentially shut down for everything other than “emergency” care. Many, if not mostdental staff have been laid off or furloughed.
Vital PPE’s are in short supply. People (patients) are shut in. Smiles just don’t seem as important when you have to wear a mask.
This is what dentists are facing, and then some!
And yet, everyone is eager for “Opening America Up Again”.
There are lessons to be learned from history. In particular, the health crisis brought on by HIV in the 80’s and the economic fallout from the 2008 crash. These 2-factors together can shed some light on what’s ahead for dentists.
People don’t need another reason to fear and stay away from the dentist. Yet, fear of getting infected by Covid-19 is an additional disincentive. People without jobs and perhaps dental insurance might also be reluctant to go to the dentist even if it’s deemed “safe”. Even people with high incomes might be a financial conservation mode. Those were the lessons from HIV and 2008.
The combination of deficiencies in faith, trust, confidence and money make the prospect of dental offices reopening to “beat the doors down” crowds, highly doubtful.
Dental Practices, if they’re lucky, will see a trickle back, slow progression to capacity, even as that capacity might be reduced from pre-Covid levels. New infection control guidelines and screening processes will undoubtedly slow down patient care. Treatment room turnover will be slowed. Gone are the days when a dentist will pop into a room for a second, make someone numb, chat a bit and leave to see another patient. From now on, once a dentist is garbed in PPE and in a room, they’re there for a while, until they’re finished. Only then will they move on.
The point is that dental practices will start up again slowlyand be slower.
FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS!
This morning, I received an email from Brian Tracy. Not a dentist but rather a motivational speaker and self-development author, this was the title of his email:
“[BREAKING] Your immune system is important — now more than ever”
We, and apparently many other, non-healthcare people, now realize that Covid-19 has uncovered an inherent immune-deficiency in the public, and in certain populations in particular. Because of that, the role of dentists in reducing inflammation, promoting proper eating (nutrition) and even breathing and sleeping has been illuminated as never before. What we do is more valuable than ever!
But, it’s up to YOU to get the message across.
Going to the dentist is MORE important NOW than EVER.
Every dental practice should act as if this is not just a RELAUNCH but also a STARTUP. People (patients) have to be re-convinced and even cajoled to come back to the dentist. This is akin to getting a new patient all over again, even if that patient has been a patient of the practice before.
The ONLY advantages, and they are huge ones, that a practice might have with an existing patient are pre-existing relationship and trust.
The cost of acquiring a new patient is usually significantly higher that that of retaining an existing one because it entails building trust. That formula has been voided by Covid-19.
You will have to start rebuilding trust all over again, even with existing patients.
Those who have built and banked such capital will be in better positions, as long as they can be properly leveraged.
How do you leverage, regain or re-ignite relationships and trust? The 3 C’s.
Communication, Communication, Communication!
Now is the time to double down on communicating the right message, along with a compelling argument and possibly even an offer to entice existing patients back.
Tell people what you’re doing to protect them. Tell them the value a healthy mouth has on the ability to bolster one’s immune system and fight off infections and viruses.
Unprecedented times require unprecedented action. If you haven’t acted like this before, now is the time to start.
Once a patient comes back, the trust-relationship matrix must continue to be nurtured. Being lax in this follow-up can be costly.
If you’d like to talk about how we can help you craft your reboot and restart, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To everyone’s excellent health, safety and wellbeing,
Michael, Laurie and the PPS team