30 Apr 2020  •  Blog, Covid-19, Practice Management  •  5min read By  • Gary Nelson

The new order for dental practices – becoming the heart of your community

Instantly after COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown, we all pretty much found ourselves in a denial phase about what was going on.

Everything seemed to happen so fast, news was breaking almost constantly and it felt as if the financial and health situation was exploding all around us. Many of us were looking for any branch we could cling to.

Fast forward a few weeks and while there is still a lot going on, to put it mildly, many of us have moved past the denial phase and into a new one.

You could call it acceptance, with a lot of people now having an ‘it is what it is’ reaction.

Finding order and clarity

But I think a lot more people have reached what I like to call the ‘gratitude phase’, a feeling of being thankful for what we have got.

With this shifting away from denial, and the confusion and chaos that comes with that, there also comes order and clarity.

So, now is a good time to ask yourself: What is my new order as a business owner during this time?

I believe the answer to this is that you need to be ‘the heart of your community’.

Patient communication

One way to make sure you are at the heart of your community is by being excellent and empathic communicators with your patients.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen and heard so many examples of superb communication from practices to patients. Such as:

  • Personal dentist to patient phone calls yielding such heartfelt thanks from patients. Those dentists have not just been informing their patients about the details of the closure of the practice, etc, but reassurances. For example: “We are here for you, should you need us”,

“We are at the end of the phone for you and your families”, “If you need anything call us, even should you need some shopping done”

  • Facebook videos explaining the ongoing changes within your practices and also showing empathy and humility
  • Instagram posts and website banners that empathise with patients and the situation that government restrictions have placed upon their dental care packages.

Dental practices are already a huge part of their local community and instrumental in its wellbeing. Those who come out of this situation in a strong position will be those who are able to demonstrate that even more so during these tough times for everyone

It’s now time to display your heart to your patients. You can do this by:

  • Keep communicating with your patients
  • Keep communicating with your wider community
  • Keep showing empathy
  • Keep reassuring them…you are there, at the end of the phone
  • Keep the community abreast of what you are up to
  • Keep the community abreast of what your team are up to
  • Keep the community abreast of what plans you have in place for when you re-open
  • Keep the community abreast of what’s going on in your community – a good news story.
Team communication

It’s also important not to forget about your team. If you consider your practice as a micro-community, your team are the beating heart of that.

So, examine how you are communicating with them during this time. There are lots of things you can be regularly talking to them about and getting their feedback on. For example:

  • What your thinking is about starting back
  • What they’re thinking about starting back
  • How you can start planning to start back
  • What the first week back might look like
  • Who will do what
  • Hygienists thoughts on hand scaling
  • Diary zoning and how much is needed
  • Marketing plans for thanking patients – we are here to help you and your families
  • Marketing plans for dental implants – solutions for missing teeth
  • Marketing plans for Invisalign – free virtual consults.

After the initial shock and adjustment of life under COVID-19, many of us have gotten – or are getting – used to the current normality we find ourselves in.

In order to establish order and clarity for ourselves, the best way forward is to embrace empathy and focus on being the heart of your communities.

About Gary Nelson

Gary Nelson is an Area Manager with Practice Plan, the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans. Gary has successfully run his own business for ten years prior to joining the team at Practice Plan.

Practice Plan has helped hundreds of dentists make a successful move to private dentistry. If you’re looking for more independence or freedom from the NHS and a more fulfilling and rewarding future, call 01691 684165 or visit practiceplan.co.uk.

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