Don't Push The Panic Button
Examining ways to influence patients to keep regular appointments in hygiene (recall) and to buy services and products that will maintain and improve dental conditions can be more challenging during an economic recession. Some areas of the country are experiencing loss in production that is comparatively more than other areas due to demographics specific to the area such as plant layoffs or large areas of housing foreclosures. Helping patients to “check panic now” is important to insuring that they do not have more challenging dental work in the future due to neglect.
Many of us are cutting back on non-essentials such as gourmet coffee, dinner out, cable television and designer purses and that makes sense. Cutting back on health care and dental care does not make sense if the reason is to save money. Consumerism did not teach us how to prioritize our discretionary spending habits and consequently there is “priority confusion” over what we buy. That is why patient education is more important now than ever to get this point across.
If you are a PPO provider, now is not the time to discontinue participation in any plans and most likely it is time to consider adding more plans to your list. Some companies are still resisting layoffs but they are cutting benefits to offset lost profits. If cuts are made to dental benefits affecting your current patient base it would be advantageous to add more plans now. You can run a demographic report from your computer to find out what percentage of your practice is represented by any particular employer. If that employer is doing layoffs or cutting back on dental benefits you can send a letter to that group of patients offering them a recession reduction on their next visit to help them get through these times. Historically, more patients will buy services because they have benefits than patients who do not have benefits. If you recognize the impact this has on your practice, you will know why it is important to not sit idly by in a panic mode.
Fear can immobilize the practice into not promoting services and products assuming no one can pay or wants to pay. Continuing to promote services by demonstrating the benefits to the patients and the long-term investment dental care provides to achieve optimum health should not be shelved because of the mindset of “they aren’t going to buy because of the recession.”
I spoke recently at a seminar in the Midwest. Before going on stage, the sponsor said to me, “You are going to address the recession aren’t you?” In my recent travels, I have noted that the recession has been portrayed by the media as being the same for everyone, when in fact; it is widely different from one part of the country to the other. So I asked specifically how the recession was affecting the sponsor’s immediate community and the feedback from the dentists in the region. He replied that their community had growth, good job prospects and was in very good shape. His practice was growing and he recently added some new technology that he was very excited about. Even though the dental community was not experiencing unusual problems, fear of what may happen with the recession was affecting many dentists in the area. The sponsor’s point was to give them encouragement to not panic. The talk was focused on making sure that the business systems in the practices were effective and how to measure each system to identify if a breakdown was happening. Making everyone on the team accountable, in measurable ways, to the success of the practice was paramount in getting everyone involved with the practice success. If the practice was to succeed in tough times it was to be internally strong to resist outside forces.
Whether a recession has touched your practice in a large or a small way, it is vitally important to have solid practice management operating systems and protocols in place to keep your practice on solid ground. McKenzie Management can offer you peace of mind with proven consulting and training services designed to show measurable improvement in a short period of time. Call now, 877-777-6151 and get your finger off the panic button.
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