Four steps to recovering your business from a crisis
Donna Hall shares four key steps to take to recover and rebuild your business following a crisis like COVID-19.
Recovering from COVID-19 might start with opening the doors to patients again. But it certainly doesn’t end there. The road to rebuilding your practice is a long one. It is undoubtedly one that will be full of twists, turns and diversions.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to managing your progress along this road. Such as staffing issues, financial planning, changing operational guidance, etc. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Below are four key steps you can take on the path back to becoming a thriving practice.
Reaffirm your vision and set goals
There’s been a lot of uncertainty and a sense of confusion around what the future might hold during COVID-19. Your team may feel similarly about their return to work.
You can help to provide a sense of purpose and security by reminding your team about your vision. Not only that, but to achieve this vision you need to set strategic goals. These may well be different to the goals you had pre COVID-19.
The key is to communicate this vision and these goals to your team. Your goals need to be realistic and achievable in order to have the desired motivational effect. If your goals are too big, you run the risk of your team feeling over-faced and then potentially having the opposite effect of demotivating them.
Setting goals as smaller steps on the road to your vision will bring a sense of accomplishment to your team. No matter what other challenges they may be facing.
Create a plan with actions and timescales
Following on from the above, to make sure you achieve your goals, and ultimately your vision, you need a plan with actions and timescales.
You may have already had a business plan in place at the start of this year. However, your operational and financial situation is likely to change to such a degree that you will need to substantially revise your original plan, if not start again.
It can be effective to divide your plan into quarters, eg three months, six months, nine months, etc. Your focus for each of these is likely to shift as we begin moving further along the road of recovery.
In the short term, your focus is likely to be on getting back up and running. Establish a new routine and trying to clear the backlog of patients you were unable to see during lockdown. As restrictions ease and guidance changes, the way you run your practice will shift and you can begin looking further ahead.
Be flexible – change will be inevitable
Change can be difficult for a lot of people. But as a profession, dentists have proven time and time again they are extremely adaptable to change. Be it a new contract, technological advancements or delivering consultations virtually during COVID-19.
While creating a plan for the future provides a framework of how to proceed, it is absolutely vital to keep in mind that this will be subject to change.
Guidance will continue to evolve, and patients’ expectations and attitudes will shift. You will constantly refine the very way you work throughout this recovery period.
Bear in mind that your team are human beings who will have been affected by their experience of lockdown. They may return to work with a different mindset or have new goals for their own personal development, or a new attitude towards work/life balance. These are other changes you will need to take into account as you steer the practice forwards.
You cannot predict the future, as COVID-19 has proved. But starting your road to recovery with the expectation that more changes will happen will make you more mentally prepared and less stressed when they do.
As healthcare professionals, you are already well-versed in empathetic skills and listening. And during the lockdown there were some brilliant examples of practices communicating empathetically with their patients, often via social media, and dentists doing likewise with their team.
The danger is that as we move out of lockdown and back towards business as usual, we deprioritise this focus on empathy as the demands and pressure of daily practice life ramp back up.
As you recover from a business crisis, you need the support of a motivated team. Sharing your plan with your team and explaining the business needs to them is one part of this. The other is continuing to be there for them from an empathetic point of view.
It will still be important to check in with them regularly, as many practices did so well during lockdown. For example, keep asking how they are coping, what they value now, if their own personal goals have changed, and if they need extra support with anything, etc.
The same applies to your patients. Many practices received positive feedback from their patients during lockdown when they took time to show their human side, by taking time out to call and ask how they were doing.
While you may not have the resources to personally call each patient for a nice chat once the practice is back in full swing, the principle of the human touch should still apply. Just as they appreciated it during lockdown, they will continue to do so afterwards and reward you with loyalty.
The road to a brighter future
Patients’ loyalty was evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During lockdown, only 2% of Practice Plan patients cancelled their membership.
While recovery is a long process with bumps in the road, remembering that your patients value what you do – perhaps more than ever, since their recent inability to access it – should help to bolster your resolve and motivation.
With the support of your patients, team and business partners, you can return your business to where it once was, and eventually come out of this crisis in a better position.
Practice Plan’s team of experienced professionals has supported over 1,500 dental practices to transform the profitability of their business through the combination of a well-populated plan and personalised support including marketing, business advice, events and training. For more information call 01691 684165 or visit practiceplan.co.uk.