We’ve all been there. Production was light the last two months, and the next two months look even slimmer. That big case was a no-show. Cash flow is weakening.
The demons are coming out:
“What if we can’t make payroll?”
“What will I tell my staff after they have worked so hard?”
“Where did I fail to make this happen?”
“Am I even supposed to be doing this for a living?”
“Will my spouse leave me if I lose it all?”
Quiet those beasts and turn the practice around in a flash.
First, humbly remind yourself that a career isn’t what’s most important in life.
In her book Yes Please!, Amy Poehler writes: “Career is the stringing together of opportunities… Mix in public opinion and past regrets. Add a dash of future panic and a whole lot of financial uncertainty. Career is something that fools you into thinking you’re in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren’t. Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later.”
She goes on to say that, on the other hand, “Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside you that drives you. That joy that comes when you do something you love. That small voice that tells you, ‘I like this. Do it again. You’re good at it. Keep going.’ That is the juicy stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world.”
To her point, the downturn is nothing more than panic and uncertainty, and those are fleeting sentiments. This too shall pass. Your creativity, by contrast, has the power to not only turn the ship around, but also to eventually allow you to leave a legacy long after you and your practice are gone. Notice where you are creative in the art and science of dentistry, and revel in that a while. Go back to your roots, to why you wanted to be in dentistry in the first place. Find fun in your work again.
Now, look at your foundation. Perhaps you started this practice from scratch or purchased it from a previous owner. Either way, at one time or another the practice had zero patients. Now you have hundreds – even thousands – of patients who have crossed over the threshold into your office and had an excellent experience. What a foundation! Harken back to how those patients became attracted to the practice, and replicate what was done then for continued success now.
Next, get creative with your team. Ask them why they want new patients. Ask them why new patients want to come to this practice. Ask them who the patients are that they most want to replicate. Ask them for ideas on how to do just that.
One idea is to identify all ideal patients in the practice, call them to ask for a positive review and finish the conversation with, “Thank you for your kind words today. The greatest compliment we can receive is a referral from you.” Ask and you shall receive!
Be open to other ideas that the team may have. You are not alone!
Reach out to a marketing firm for support. A well-invested marketing dollar can go a long way in attracting patients to the practice, and quickly. Now is the time for direct tactics such as online advertising and direct mail – the kind of marketing that directly says, “Call today for an appointment.” Ask your marketers to inject new vigor into the existing plan for speedy results.
Throughout this time, seep yourself in positive ideas to distract your mind from the demons and to recalibrate the thoughts playing in your head. As Tony Robbins says, connect with people who have had more success than you, and replicate the behaviors that got them there. Get out of the office for an uplifting seminar, listen to a motivational speaker on book-on-tape or Audible, watch a motivational talk on YouTube every day over lunch and listen to only upbeat, uplifting music.
Then, turn it over. To your team and your marketing firm. To a plant in the corner of your office. To a shelf in the waiting room. Or, certainly, to a god of your choosing or the universe. The key is to let go of the outcome. If you have done all the hard work previously outlined here, only positive things can come.
You are not a victim of circumstances. You are the hero!