Navigating Crisis: 4 Steps to Thrive in Uncertainty


Our natural response to a crisis is usually fear and panic.
However, most people do not realize that such situations often provide
opportunities that can be harnessed to grow. This seems to be the case with the
current Corona Virus situation.

Although the current crisis is indeed more than just a storm
in a teacup, it does offer an opportunity – a chance to reflect, learn and
grow. That is especially true for service industries, including dentistry.

The core purpose of this blog is to help each other tackle hurdles, and achieve dental success.

The Reality

Considering how the current situation is developing, it is
likely that you may have to shut down your practice for an unknown period of
time. It is obvious that this will directly impact your staff, patients and
your cash flow.

I will share 4
that you as a dental practice owner can deploy immediately with
the goal of minimizing the business impact of the current crisis. Also, these
steps will help you keep your team productive and will help you hit the ground
running once the crisis is in the past.

Please understand that any advice within this blog post is
general and that you must consider your state laws before implementing any
advice mentioned herein.  

STEP 1: Maintain the “Right” Mindset

Don’t panic! Most people say it, but end up buckling under pressure when the time comes. Your most important job as the business owner is to stay level-headed. A little will go a long way in easing the nerves of your team and your patients alike.

You must constantly
let your team and patients know that you understand the extent and severity of
the situation and that you are doing everything within your means to mitigate
the risks. Let them know that you’re willing to go the extra mile to ensure patient

Your staff is naturally going to worry about what happens if
there’s no work for potentially some number of months? How will it affect them
financially? You must make the effort to reassure them. Instill positivity – sincerely
acknowledge their concerns and let them know that you will stand by them
through thick and thin.

To start, make sure your staff is fairly compensated during
the downtime, otherwise, they will leave. The best way to tackle the pay issue
is to approach it on a case-by-case basis with each employee. There
are a couple of ways you can go about it:

  • Look into using a contractual pay agreement
  • Ask your employees to utilize their vacation days that you can replace int he future

Secondly, see if you can renegotiate terms with your suppliers. Ask for extended payment options. Doing so could substantially reduce the pressure on your cash flow.

Here are some helpful Human Resources guidance regarding employee pay from Bent Ericksen,

Watch below as Alex Nottingham JD MBA, Founder and CEO of All-Star talks about how best to approach a crisis such as we are experiencing. You can watch Alex’s discussion on YouTube or find the podcast version at the bottom of the page or in your favorite podcast service.

STEP 2: Address your Patients

The key to not losing your patients during the crisis is proper
and honest communication
. Keep them updated and reassure them that they
will not be without your help during any quarantine.

Make sure you engage your patients with every possible
touchpoint. Your website and social media profiles should have relevant
information. Make sure it is regularly updated as the situation develops. Reach
your patients via their inboxes too with newsletter updates.

Call each upcoming appointment individually and let them
know that they will be taken care of. This will help minimize cancellations. Go
the extra mile and make yourself available for emergencies even during a
quarantine (please make sure to check with local guidance for healthcare
services during a quarantine), because if you don’t, someone else is going to
swoop in and take away your clients.

STEP 3: Opportunity from Crisis

The next question is what happens during a potential
quarantine? Do you just sit around and wait for things to resolve? Or do you
strive to make something meaningful out of it?

During the downtime, you will have an abundance of a very
important resource – time. Lots and lots of time. Hopefully you will have a way
to continue paying your employees, so it makes perfect sense that you try and
justify it by keeping your team active and giving them regular assignments.

In fact, you will be doing your team a favor by keeping them
busy. One, their skills will improve, and secondly, the constant interaction
with you and their teammates will help them stay positive and will keep their
morale high.

So how do you do it?

You train them – virtually. There are plenty of practice management tools out there that allow conducting online training classes. All Star Dental Academy, for instance, offers an extensive program of virtual training options and a huge library of dental resources.

From learning how to convert patient calls to improving everyday productivity, your team can sharpen every aspect of their job, and from the comfort of their living room while in their pajamas! Your team could also complement this with Virtual Coaching Sessions. All Star also offers a robust virtual platform that gives our coaches the ability to conduct thorough training sessions completely online, making it very easy for your team to absorb knowledge. 

Another way is to have regular virtual huddles. Collaborative
tools such as Zoom, Slack, or even Skype will come in handy here. You could review
office policies, have meetings about issues that have been a lower priority, or
have your team process paperwork or insurance.

Another important assignment for your team should be to call
each patient
and keep them updated. Inquire about their condition and
as the quarantine period comes to an end start confirming their appointments so
your schedule is already filled up when you open up again.           

STEP 4: What to Do After Coming Back?

It’s important to understand we’re currently at the cusp of an economic downturn. It is quite likely that there will be a recession when you come back to work. And that people are going to tighten their financial belts.

Your patients are likely to look for cheaper options and
will be tempted to choose corporate practices over yours. Some of them may even
skip dental work altogether. There are several effective ways to handle the

Flexible payment terms. Let your patients know that you understand the economy is difficult and that you want to make sure that they have access to the best dental facilities no matter how hard the times. Sit down with your accountant and hash out a plan that serves your patient while also keeping your cash-flow in check.

Offer warranties. It will ease the nerves of your patients and help them understand that their money is well spent.

Offer your services via extended hours and weekends. This will add convenience for your patients and will also help your practice make up for the billable hours lost during a quarantine.


So there you have it; a robust, easy-to-implement plan to
help you make the most of this crisis. The key is to understand that
maintaining a reasonable perspective goes a long way in navigating uncertainty
and that any situation CAN be molded into an opportunity.

Chime in with your thoughts and comments. We’d love to hear
what measures you have taken and how you plan to take your practice forward in
the next couple of weeks.

For any questions and to learn more about how All-Star can help you navigate this crisis contact us here:

Click below to listen to the podcast where Alex talks about how best to approach a crisis such as we are experiencing.

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