Takacs is a recognized authority on the Business of Dentistry. He has
been guiding dentists and their team members to higher levels of success
for over 20 years. In addition to an active speaking, consulting and
writing schedule, Gary is the founder of a company called Ride and Learn.
This company combines his passion for continuing education and Harley
Davidson motorcycles. About four times a year, he leads a small group
of dentists on a Harley Davidson motorcycle tour through amazing scenery.
Each tour includes a world-class continuing education component. For
more information contact Gary at (480) 951-1652 or check out his Web
site at www.rideandlearn.com.
A number of financial
indicators have revealed that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession.
Economists technically define a recession as being two consecutive quarters
of declining economic output. By this definition, we were already in a
recession by the third quarter of 2001. Not only did the events of September
11th have a tragic human cost, but they also delivered even further damage
to the economy. How long this recession will last is anyone's guess, but
I personally believe that the economy will rebound quickly.
During my career
as a practice management advisor and coach, I have weathered the last
three recessions ('81-83, '87, and '91) and have helped offices succeed
in spite of challenging times. The following techniques are gleaned from
these experiences. This article outlines five specific ways to recession-proof
- Provide Financing
- This is a critical strategy for succeeding in a down economy. Many
patients will accept your best treatment option and comprehensive care
if they can afford to do so. In a slow economy, people tighten their
belts and restrict their spending to items of necessity because they
want to hang on to their cash. With this in mind, you can provide financing
options by utilizing the services of an outside financing company. Most
offer excellent financing options that will allow your patients to make
monthly payments while you are paid up front with no risk. For example,
a patient could finance a $4,000 treatment plan for approximately $99
a month. This type of affordability needs to be actively promoted within
Impeccable Customer Service - A down economy is a great time to
begin to refine and exceed your current level of customer service. Try
offering patients something extra. A few examples of outstanding customer
service are: a warm blanket as a cover up, quality coffee and tea in
the reception area, personal headphones to listen to music during treatment,
or perhaps a hand-written thank you note. Another great idea is for
the doctor to personally call the patients who've had injections that
day to follow-up. Do the unexpected and knock your patients out with
excellent customer service!
- Increase Your
Marketing Activities - When the economy slows down, most businesses
cut their budgets. But cutting your marketing budget is a mistake. New
patient flow is the lifeblood of any dental practice. A declining economy
offers you an excellent opportunity to increase your marketing budget
and become even more visible at a time when other dental offices are
becoming less visible. This type of economy also allows you to stretch
your marketing budget since many media outlets will lower their rates
or offer more bang for your marketing buck.
- Focus On In-Service
Team Training - Most dentists are so busy working in their practices
that they don't make time to work on their practices. Schedule a one-hour
weekly in-service training meeting focused on a specific issue you would
like to improve in your office. This is not a staff meeting, but rather
an in-service training session. Rotate the leadership of these meetings
by having each team member teach a session. You also may want to use
video or audiotape programs as a tool for your meetings. Many speakers
on the lecture circuit offer their courses in this format and it can
be a great way to provide affordable continuing education to your team.
- Promote Whitening
In Your Practice - This is an awesome time to promote whitening
because people need to be uplifted. Everyone wants whiter teeth and
this is an inexpensive 'feel-good' service that makes patients feel
better about themselves. Run a special price on whitening and encourage
the treatment to all new patients and existing patients alike.
While these may indeed
be challenging economic times, there are steps you can take to navigate
and build your practice during them. With these five strategies, not only
will your office survive, but it can actually thrive in this economy.
Here's to your success!