The 3 Cs to thriving during the pandemic

By Bassim Michael, CPA, CVA, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

August 6, 2020 -- Over the past six months as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, the "experts" have been telling us constantly that our lives will never be the same and that our behavior, the way we work, shop, and interact, will be altered forever. While change is inevitable, there are fundamentals that we see repeatedly that always hold true in what makes an organization thrive even during the most challenging times.

In this article, I will discuss three catalysts that have helped dental practices thrive during these unprecedented times.

Communication

Bassim Michael, CPA, CVA
Bassim Michael, CPA, CVA.

In January, during the early days of the pandemic, residents of Wuhan, China, were asked about the lockdown and what it was like to be quarantined. Surprisingly, the majority complained about the lack of communication from their employers and not getting any updates on how and when they would return to work.

Here in U.S., I observed that practices that communicated well with teams, patients, suppliers, and trusted advisers recovered a lot faster postshutdown than practices that communicated less. The practices with better communication stayed in touch with their teams and gave them constant updates. As they were getting ready to reopen, they rehearsed the new protocols and communicated with their patients about the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of their patients and team. In addition, they coached their team on taking the time to explain the new protocols to patients when they called to confirm appointments or set up the recall appointments.

Also, practices that communicated well with their suppliers and advisers were able to secure the personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to be able to reopen sooner.

Culture

Leaders who develop teams with winning cultures based on sound core organizational values build dental practices that can withstand any adversity. Practices that conquer this area have leaders who are able to create a vision for the practice and can rally the troops behind shared common goals that everyone on the team can support.

In these practices, the doctor hears the concerns of the team and tries to have the team come up with the solutions to these problems. In dealing with COVID-19, we have seen practices with great cultures reopen faster with fewer staff issues and much more robust recoveries. This is because the team was usually involved in identifying and setting the new protocols and provided input on how the new protocols affected their workflow. The team feedback during that time provided the practice owner with great insights and helped with the team buying into the new protocols.

Capital

I graduated from college in the mid-1990s, and in my professional life, I have been through a few recessions and business cycles. Over and over again, in any downturn, well-capitalized practices tend to continue to grow and thrive. That is because these practices take advantage of the opportunities that become available as a result of the downturn. For example, practices that are cash-poor will tend to cut their marketing budgets and staff when they should be doubling down on these areas.

Leaders with practices that have adequate capital will see the opportunity to upgrade their team, as the supply of potential candidates will be better than when the economy was booming and competition for talent was much greater. Getting rid of "toxic" team members and replacing them with team members who are more suitable for the vision of the practice will propel the practice to more growth, even during the most challenging times.

Once the team is upgraded, a practice that is well capitalized can focus on growth by investing in organic growth through marketing and team training to improve treatment plan acceptance or through mergers and acquisitions with other dental practices.

We have always recommended to our clients to maintain a 60-day operating cash cushion for the practice and at least a 90-day cash cushion for the individual practice owners.

Practices that can develop teams with superb communication, winning culture, and plenty of capital can prosper and thrive even during the age of COVID-19.

Bassim Michael is a certified public accountant (CPA), a certified valuation analyst (CVA), and the founder and president of Only for Dentists. He and his team are dedicated to helping dentists understand their financial information, improve their profitability, and lower their taxes.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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