[March 19th, 2020] by Dr. Ginger Bratzel
Episode #9: [Coronavirus and your dental business]
Unless you’ve been abducted by aliens for the past 8 weeks, you’re aware of the Coronavirus pandemic.
But the impact in the US has hit its peak within just the last few weeks and the situation is changing rapidly.
One thing I know about dentistry, we are masters of infection control.
There are so many precautions we take to protect our patients, team, and ourselves. But unfortunately, the public isn’t always aware of everything we do.
There is an economic impact of the virus on our industry. So, on this week’s episode of the Dental Mental podcast, we are covering what’s going on right now and how to prepare for this and any future emergency situations to stabilize your business.
We are breaking it down in several areas:
- Economic impact
- Social communication
- Emotional support
- And how to be there for our community.
This one is lots of hands-on tactics and I also put together a resource specifically for you and your team related to moving beyond handling the situation and towards reconnecting with patients. You will want to listen in.
Links Mentioned In This Episode:
Show Notes/Transcript of Episode:
Hey there, it’s Dr. Ginger Bratzel with you from Dental Mental, and today we’re talking about a different side of the business of dentistry that’s very relative and current to the situation. And we’re going to talk about the impact of Coronavirus on your business and how to handle it, and how to talk to patients about it,
to make it an easier transition for
you, for the patient and for our community in general. So this
one’s gonna be a little different,
but it’s really necessary necessary information. So let’s go ahead and dig in. Hey there, and welcome to Dental Mental. My name is Ginger Bratzel. I’m a dentist marketer, straight shooting business strategists and I’m a little fanatical about all things Disney. Each week, we dive into the big picture thinking where you learn proven action steps and strategies focusing on the management, the marketing and the mindset of being a dental practice owner. So you can spend more time helping patients and less dealing with all the stuff
dental school didn’t prepare you for.
So it’s time to make sure your tray table is in its upright and locked position and that your seat belt is properly fastened. Let’s take off. Here we go.
Well, this one’s a real one. And we’re getting very, very serious about a serious topic. We make up editorial calendar of what topics we’re going to talk about throughout the year, several weeks and months ahead of time. But because this is so current, it’s so poignant. It’s it’s so important to talk about right now. We have bumped our editorial calendar and we’ve inserted this podcast on the impact on your dental business with Coronavirus and how to handle it. And we just thought it was really relative to the situation and we need to cover it sooner or later. So we’re gonna we’re gonna hit on it. So you know Coronavirus is nothing to laugh about. But it’s nothing to fear either. It’s a serious topic, and but with the right information are the right procedures, we are there to protect our patients.
So this is a rapidly changing
situation worldwide, you know, we are located in the United States. So our topic in our information is more related to the United States. So I apologize for our listeners out of country. But there’s information you could take from it and apply to it, we’re going to give you that and making that happen in your office. That’s relative no matter where you are in the world. But because things are changing so rapidly, the information is changing so rapidly, the situations are changing so rapidly. The biggest thing is the flexibility in proceeding and going forward. And, and being really open to what’s going on. So we take that into consideration. So as I said, we have an editorial calendar of what topics we can talk about, and we do that weeks to months ahead of time on different topics, but this one we as the time of this recording, and the time is going to be released as of last night. So when I’m recording this as of last night, I am an Oklahoma City Thunder fan because I am in Oklahoma City. And as of last night when the situation when the Oklahoma City Thunder met the Utah Jazz. That situation unfolded at lightning speed and watching the news later. You don’t really get the gist of it. But you know, we’re sitting there waiting for the game to start. To all the sudden the game is little delayed to the game is being postponed to the game is being canceled to the NBA cancel this season. And then the time it took me to explain it. That’s how quickly things were going and we were all scratching our head and saying what’s happening and that’s because the situation that’s going on. So, you know, if you’ve been under a rock, Rudy Gabbar from I just slammed his name from the Utah Jazz, sorry, Rudy, tested positive for Coronavirus. And it just said a whole lot of things in place. And everyone in the arena, you know, they reassured everybody they reassured us that you’re all safe you unless you had direct contact with him. He was not in the arena at the time. And just public health it was more of the players, people associated with him and the people who had been playing with him in the previous days. In during that time. My phone was blowing up the Hyndman meeting in Atlanta, which is a great meeting. I love the hangman meaning it was being canceled just a week ahead of time. Big Apple was having a subset meaning they cancelled that and it’s just being the flexibility so when it comes to your business, the This is a rapidly changing situation. So we want to be able to handle the change, but not let it dictate and take over our lives or the lives of our patients and make it happen. So that’s what we’re going to spend our time on is that impact to your business and how to prepare for it. And you know, we have a role in dentistry. Because we are a health practice practitioners, we are a health profession, we owe it to the community, our patients to be role models in that area. And
right now we’ve been reacting to it,
we need to be taking a more active situation, we want to avoid panic. And the big key is communication. And making sure we get the right information out to our patients. And just being flexible as the situation comes along. You know,
I feel like in the professions is the forefront of infection control. Not
other health professionals are as
clean as that so they don’t take it as seriously. You know, in general, our profession is very, very serious. And I think it comes back to the situation in the 90s with Dr. David Acer and Kimberly Gallus. And as you recall, that was a patient that directly contracted aids from the dentist. And dentistry really took a hard look in the face and said, Hey, this is what’s going on, we need to change. I that’s when I was starting my dental career. It was very real for us. It’s like, How can this happen on our watch. And I think at that point, we stepped forward. But what we’ve done is become so good infection control, it’s a little bit second nature to us. And our patients are not always experiencing what we’re doing behind the scenes to keep them safe. And going forward. And so you know, we’ve we just do it without thinking about it’s like a mom, how she takes care of everything in the day. Nobody knows the thousand things that went into planning that day, to make sure she balanced work career family,
and make that all happen.
So as we’re talking about it, I want to bring that up, we need to make our infection control more public, we need to be in the forefront of doing it. If we’re reacting only when patients are asking a question about infection control, in my opinion, that’s too late. They should not even have to ask that question because they know we’re doing it and not have to assume we’re doing it. I know when you’re in your office, patients are looking at you a little more closely. We want to bring it out and we have no other time in history had that capability of making our infection control so public, and being able to share this message and going forward. So I know what most of us and I’m gonna say all of us do in the back office. But we need to have that same diligence and presence in the front office. So for what I’m you know, for example, like it on my dental office, I compete my I have a metal underlying medical condition, I’m considered a new compromise. So part of it’s taking care of my patients but also taking care of me so I could do the job. And so infection control in surrounded my family, what we did through there, but also my dental family and what we did at the office. So we were very diligent on not only infection control in the back, but everything in the front office so for instance, wiping down light switches every day, multiple times a day, doorknobs the phone, the people are breathing into and talking into anything a patient clipboards, things like that. We did that without making a big to do about it. It was just part of that process to keep me healthy so I could do my job, and also protect him in the process. And I will say I was a little selfish on it because it was from me first but they benefited from it. And and we’re in these times, we need to be that way for our patients too. So your front desk needs to be willing to wipe down counters with patients their Clorox wipes, wiping down counters, light switches, doorknobs, and making that conversation. You know, what are you doing? Hey, we’re protecting you. We’re wiping down every surface handles in the bathroom faucets, the toys, you know, we used to do that out of sight out of mind. No, now’s the time to do it, where everyone can see it. Even signage in your office infection control is important to us. And we do it in all areas, our office, you know, treatment and the business areas. So your safety is our main concern in letting them know to do it. So being very present and very vocal on doing it is one of the key steps to reassure our community to be leaders in the community. I mean, if I have a restaurant I should be wiping down that same diligence, not just the tables and the silverware. We should be wiping down every surface and We do that again in dentistry, but nobody actually knows it. So this, let’s make it public. Let’s do it in front of them. Do it in the middle of the day where everyone sees is doing it. And so we can open up that conversation. Another area to concentrate in is our communication and not communication, waiting them to ask a question. That’s scary. But communication on a regular basis. We, in general, and dentistry in general, and this is something I’ve been very adamant about having, working towards changing and making people aware of, do you want to be a good business person, you don’t send out an email only when bad things happen? We all communicate, we only call
patients when they have a past to account.
They need to make an appointment or show for an appointment, or something bad’s happen. So you know, if you’re looking at your emails, which I had, like 10, when I just opened up before I went live from hotels, you
know, I have frequent
rewards, numbers. And so Hilton, Hampton Inn, Crowne Plaza, Ritz, whatever it is, is sending out an email telling me Hey, how your infection control, and coronavirus is impacting us. I’ve not heard from them any other time. In fact, I had forgot I even had these numbers because they didn’t send me anything until things are bad. And so you know, part of good business, and relationship building. And making all of this happen is communicating with people on a regular basis. We call them fairweather friends, I had a calling in dental school, that she only came around when she wanted something. And if that’s the only time we’re communicating with our patients is when we want something. And we need to tell them something that always puts them on edge. So to reassure them, we have never had an opportunity in business any other time with social media, to communicate with our patients electronically, directly and making that happen. So this is a good time to reevaluate how you communicate with patients, and build those standard procedures in there. You know, newsletters, people don’t send out or they take too long, or you only send it out in the mail when you have a promotion because things are slow. No, we need to have those standard communications, we have to have that going on. You’re going to hear from me once a week through this podcast. It’s not just when things are going bad, I am going to be there and minimum once a week for you to have that communication. And for your offices. That’s where you start need to look at minimal communication with their your social media is a great time to sit down, I need any and say hey, I know you guys are concerned, let me address what we’d already do this not something special we do. This is something we already do. Infection Control is so important, our office all aspects of office, we’re talking about the business office, when as soon as they walk in the door, or hit your door. Infection Control is your world and you’re going to control that. And they’re safety’s number one in your book.
So we make that happen.
Also, when you’re confirming patients, signage, you know, are we communicating with patients, what we want from them, but also what we guarantee to them. So things like confirming patients, if a patient has a fever,
or has a cough,
we asked them to be fever, free coffee free for 48 hours before coming in. If not, we will gladly reschedule you.
If we’re so worried about our schedule
and bulldozing through it and not taking their consideration, they we’ve lost that trust with them. So making sure we say that going forward. Same for the staff, you know, if you’re sick, we want our staff at home. And I’ll tell you, I’m not not been the best one on this, I’m going to turn the mirror on my face. And I’ll tell you, I remember times where I, I know patients were relying on me my income relied on me, the fit, my family relied on me to bring that in and you know, I’d be sick and at the office, I would double up on gloves, I sit in my office, this is not the time to do that. So really reconsider that. If you are in such a dire straits financially, that’s an issue, you’ve got to have that cushion, where if something happened, you can be sick for a day to take care of your bigger community, your bigger family and also of yourself and making that happen. So making sure that patients know what to expect is signage saying that so if I come into an appointment, I’m nervous, if I know that that’s your procedure, if someone’s been sick that and we wait for it to be well for 48 hours. I know if I’m in there, my risk is lower. So that reassures me that you’re going to be taking care of me. And it’s just it’s just good stuff. Again, social media being able to send out messages to your patients. This is what we’re doing. You know, we’re asking our patients if you’ve been sick. Please reschedule, we’ll accommodate you. And in just about being there, to make sure they know that. And when the patient does come in, I know, it’s good to have a good interaction with them. You know, I sat down, we shake patient’s hands, my husband, Ron, who’s a hygienist, he’s got a heck of a handshake. And he loves it patients know, he looks in like shakes it and shakes her off the off the table for a little while, are we gonna do a fist bump and elbow bump? What are we going to change? My son is a high school senior, and he was interviewing for scholarships yesterday with the president of the university. And they had to change their policy, they was a longer table, they kept the applicants at one end. The one person interacted with them. And they it was an elbow bump. And just that’s the times we’re in to make sure we’re we’re making through. So people are okay with that. They say, Hey, I really care about you. If you hear your voice and you’re genuine, it still translates across the board. So it changing that. So as we go through this, I mean, we need to support our team, our community, our family, our patients, we need to help them emotionally, and reassuring them socially, you know, how are we going to change our interactions? And what do we do in our office, economically? How are we building our office where we can make those things happen where we can have that buffer, we’re, we’re lean and mean, we’re not overspending. Just because we have the money, we’re going to put in a cushion account for whatever we need. You know, computers are wiped out, we have a cushion account that we put in there, and we’ve got a virus going around, we’ve had a cushion account, bad weather and people can’t get the office, we have that cushion account that’s that is financially responsible. And something I want you to look at doing in 2020 have, you have not always done that. And then, you know, bear behaviorally anything that we want to do to change in our procedures. Our job is to be prepared for anything. As a business owner, and as a health professional on those two fronts. And our job is to support our community. What can we do to help other people out? What do you do somebody has a dental emergency during this time, what are you gonna do have schools out, and we need to take care of a kid, we got to have those concessions, and each one of us have to fine tune that for our area. But this is a background to get get us started and going through. So you know, overall, and this is a theme that we do with all our clients. We talk about mindset marketing, and management, the system, how you’re going to manage the situation, how marketing’s how you talk to people in this whole situation. But the biggest thing here is mindset. If you’re going around playing victim about the darn Coronavirus, and how it affected us and we can’t find supplies and patients are acting weird. That is an attitude problem on your part. And you need to look in the mirror yourself and say, hey, that’s not the game I’m playing anymore. I have a mentor who tells me Are you a victim or you volunteer. So if you let life happen, dictate what’s happening to you, you’re volunteering for that. I don’t want to be a volunteer.
I don’t want to be a victim. I want to be in control of it. And so making sure you know what’s going on. Now as a resource to help you through and help you with some of the communication and the verbiage and all of this stuff. We’re gonna put a resource together that you can download request, we’re gonna put it over at Ginger Bratzel.com/Corona. So verbiage like for signage on infection control. This would be some scripting for you. You could also use it for social media and say, Hey, you know about your concerns for people. We’re going to put that out there and you could request that so just go over to Ginger bratzel.com. forward slash Coronavirus, which this is again, a never a URL I thought I would ever put out just to help you out and all this because I know your heart’s in the right place. You’re in dentistry, I know you’ve got your P’s and Q’s down. We just want to shift the conversation and get in front of it. And remember, we’re doing that. So again, this is very different than we normally do. But it’s just very time sensitive material. And I wanted to give you this resource and make it happen. Because I want you to be able to just reassure your patients and be able to do your job. And this too will pass and it’s just a matter of time and what we needed to get to do to get through it. Be very flexible, things are going to change and be a lot more patient with ourselves and with others as we make that happen. So Ginger Bratzel Hey, it’s my pleasure being with you signing off. Take care.
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