12 Mistakes I Made – I Believed There Would Never Be Another Recession

In the sixth article in the blog series 12 Mistakes I Made When Starting in Dentistry written by Dr. Agatha Bis, we discuss how the experience of the last major recession can prepare you for recovering from the current one.    

In 2008, the markets fell drastically and caused a massive recession. My business, like any others, was instantly affected, in a way that I would have never predicted. As the daily market numbers dropped, so did people’s money, AND spending, AND future hope. But what I didn’t predict was the massive job losses and restructuring which, of course, ended up impacting spending on “non-essentials” like dentistry. Especially cosmetic dentistry. We went from doing mostly all cosmetic dentistry to none almost overnight and kept dropping in the “bread and butter” types of dentistry quickly after. Where I used to think that routine periodontal treatment would be a no-brainer, we saw people drop like flies from the hygiene schedule, leaving it wide open where it used to be fully booked for months.  

Not So Easy Anymore

Many of you who lived through that recession and recovered, didn’t think it could get this bad again. Many dentists I speak to believe they know better now and would not be as impacted by the next one as much. But the reality is, most dentists are not sheltered enough to survive another recession. Many, especially those that don’t have clear and consistent systems in their practice that clearly outline what to do and how to do it will feel the next one even more than the one in 2008!  The reason I say this is because I remember 2008 clearly, and I also remember how it was before that for our profession. It was easy to acquire new patients. I sent out some mailers and boom!  My practice tripled quickly. Social media didn’t exist, so you didn’t need to depend on it or fear it.  Numbers of patients per dentist were way higher than they are now, for the simple reason that we were limiting the number of dentists able to practice in those days.  And before 2008, people looked to us (not Google) for solutions to their dental problems, which not only resulted in more compliant patients but also ones that didn’t constantly question our recommendations based on what they read online.

The Landscape Has Changed

So when 2008 hit, we still got to do some dentistry, on a smaller scale albeit, but it was still typical, acceptable, and routine type of dentistry that we all know and learned in dental school.  But now, with social media, ‘Dr. Google’, and an enormous increase in dentists, there has been a dramatic shift in not only the types of dentistry that are being delivered but also the quality, price, and convenience that has been compromised.  Our businesses are no longer sheltered by the respect of our patients who constantly search out the “magic” remedy for their dental issues; we are no longer able to draw from our community as the community is inundated with us, and we certainly can’t trust social media and the news to not allow chaos and panic to overwhelm the world when something strikes. Hello Coronavirus.  

This time, it will be different; this time it will be way worse.  This time, only the strongest will survive, and brace yourself: they will also grow drastically through a few key systems and blow you out of the water if you are not one of them. Because this time…all the shelter and protection of 2007 is gone.  

Structure Provides Strength

If your practice is not structured in a specific way, and with some key systems, you will not recover from the next market downturn. We are on the brink of something massive, and we need to protect ourselves, and our businesses, and our people, in order to not only survive but do so like the few strong ones always manage to do.  So what does that mean?  What do the strong ones know that we don’t?  It’s not magic, and it’s not a secret.  And the craziest thing of all is what they know is what we all know… the only difference is they actually do it. They actually live it daily, implement it in everyday systems, and so their practice is sheltered against any downturn. And, in fact, their practice will do well in good times but will do phenomenally well in chaotic times. And that’s what we are approaching. 

To find out the key systems that every dental practice needs in order to protect itself and its people against the next recession, check us out at UPB Dental Academy.

Dr. Agatha Bis is a cosmetic dentist and the founder of UPB Dental Academy. Dr. Bis uses her experience and extensive experience and research to develop UPB Dental Academy Courses, helping dentists achieve their ultimate practice. UPB Dental Academy offers a suite of courses designed to teach dentists how to structure and support their practice for growth and success.