Written by Soroush Emamdad
November 29, 2020
We are heading towards the end of 2020, and some questions remain in our minds. When will this pandemic be over? Will the vaccines reach us soon? When can we travel again? One thing is for sure; we may not have any definite answer to any of these questions. It seems that things are not going to change overnight, and we are in this for a long haul.
A better approach would be to focus on the things that we can control, rather than dwelling a lot on things that we do not influence. For instance, we can not speed up the manufacturing and distribution process of vaccines by merely thinking about it. Instead, we can look to ourselves, identify things that we want to improve and make real, meaningful changes to our life through actions.
There is no doubt that the situation brought about by the pandemic not only took its toll on us emotionally and mentally, but it affected our careers and businesses as well. In this article, I write about five things that I think dental professionals should do while waiting for the pandemic to be over.
1. Understand the state of the economy
Managers need to understand the external environmental factors and how they shape consumer behavior. Most economies in different parts of the world are either in an economic recession or economic depression, which is just a prolonged recession.
When the economy is down, consumers usually reduce their spending as their priorities change. But how does that impact the dental businesses? Well, patients may defer any dental procedure that they perceive as non-essential; this may affect the revenue streams from both cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics.
We may argue that orthodontics is to treat malocclusion, and therefore essential. However, clients may still perceive it as a cosmetic procedure, and that perception will ultimately affect their decision.
On the other hand, treatments to relieve toothache, dental emergencies, dental prosthesis to restore function, or any dental service that clients perceive as essential will still be in demand.
2. Go over your financial statements and review your organization cost structure
In pursuit of our goals, be it personal or professional, we always need metrics to measure our progress. We want to know where we stand and how we will move forward knowing where we are.
In business, three statements can tell us about the health of a company. These statements are namely: Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Statement of Cash Flow. Financial statements provide essential information about the business, regardless of the enterprise size.
By what percentage is the revenue down?
How much net profit did you generate over a specific period?
If you made no profit, how much did you lose then?
If you are at a loss, you may need to check how much cash you have at the moment to support your operation and how long will your resources last?
If the business does not have enough resources, how will you raise capital? Are you going to loan, and at what cost?
The answer to almost all these questions relies on a keen understanding of financials. Aside from the financial statements, it is crucial to understand the business cost structure. One has to be aware of the fixed and variable costs that the business incurs. As a doctor of dental medicine, you may be so busy with all the clinical procedures. Nevertheless, it would be best if you never overlooked the financials.
3. Communicate efficiently to both your clients and your team
To treat clients in a safe environment and protect yourself and your team from the virus, you have to invest in new equipment such as an aerosol suction machine, and make changes to the clinic design and incorporate additional safety measures.
Informing your clients about the steps you took to adapt to the new situation will make them feel more comfortable visiting you.
As for your team, let them know that you are in this challenging time together. Your team members should know that their company would take care of them in tough times, and letting go of them would be the very last resort.
After all, our core human values should reflect in the way we operate a business, and in the end, it's not just about the financials and numbers.
4. Spend time on your personal and professional development
Pandemic disrupted lots of our pre-pandemic routines. In a way, it's like our life is on pause, and this is the best time to look at ourselves and ask fundamental questions and identify areas within us that we would want to improve. Individual development is a broad topic, and it needs a separate discussion.
As for professional development, dentistry, just like any other profession, requires continuing education. Before the pandemic, dental conventions and scientific seminars were some of the venues that would provide additional knowledge to the dental professionals.
Amid the pandemic, many webinars are arranged by different organizations that offer valuable updates to any practicing dentists. Aside from the webinars, there are various online courses that you can take.
5. Know that there is light at the end of the tunnel
The good news is that Pfizer and BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford/Astrazeneca all reported that their Covid-19 vaccine had a promising result; this is a milestone in our battle against the virus. Manufacturing and distribution will be the next challenges to overcome, but there is progress, and that matters. Having hope and faith, believing that things will get better in future will always make us more resilient in challenging times, so hang in there and let us look forward to better days.