5 Key Elements to Protecting Your Dental Practice In a Market Turndown

This article, written by Dr. Agatha Bis, Founder of UPB Dental Academy is the first in a five-part series on protecting your dental practice from an economic downturn. Stay tuned for additional posts in the series, published each day. 

5 Key Elements to Protecting Your Dental Practice In a Market Turndown

The Dow Jones has declined by about 28% between February 11 and March 12, 2020, driven by the coronavirus pandemic and turmoil in the crude oil markets.  While none of us can truly predict where this crisis could be headed, it is important to compare the current crisis with other historic stock market crises in the past century and how these impacted our dental offices.  

Although I was not around during the Great Depression of 1929, where market declined by 89%, and barely remember 1987, a 31% drop, I do recall the 2000s Recession and its 34% drop, as well as 2007-2008 Recession, where we watched the numbers plummet by a whopping 49%.  In 2008, dental practices experienced an average of 43% drop in their revenue. It took about 4 years to recover. These are simply facts. Where we are headed this time, nobody knows for sure. But there are things we learned from those market turndowns, and how they impacted our business and knowledge that we gained to help out business succeed, grow, and rise above even in the toughest environment.  And I want to share those with you to help all of us come together and get through this difficult time so that dentistry can come out of this and thrive. 

In this blog series, I will explain the five things I learned from the past two recessions to help me protect my dental practice and thrive even in the toughest times.  

Key #1 – Stay in Line With Your Vision

In 2008, I watched many dentists suffer, and even give up, due to loss of revenue, enormous stress, and patients who dictated their treatment based on insurance coverage and even what they would actually pay for their dental services.  Many dentists accepted what insurance paid rather than collect the full fee and even allowed insurance companies and patients to dictate what dental treatment to deliver, rather than the appropriate and recommended one they believed in.  I totally understand the reasoning behind that; after all, we all need to pay the bills and keep plugging away to maintain our practice. So short term, we think: “if I accept less money or do what insurance will cover rather than what I believe in, at least I get some money so I can keep going.”  Makes sense. Short-term. But long-term, when the market recovers, and it always does, you have now become the one that accepts “less money” than what you are worth, and you become the one that allows “insurance” to dictate what you do for your patients. And once you become that, once you are known for that, once your patients know that you will do that, it’s almost impossible to rise from that.  Short-term, you may suffer slightly less than the others, but long-term, you will suffer enormously.  

As difficult as it may seem, the one key thing that got me through both recessions and come out on top was my relentless focus and belief in my vision.  I was so centred on what I wanted to be, the dentist I wanted to become, who I wanted to be known for, that I honestly could not accept anything else. For those of you who know me, you remember that it was in that time that I almost quit dentistry altogether.  Ironically enough, it wasn’t the recession that led me to that. It was a number of events in my personal life and my practice that preceded the recession where I questioned my choice of profession and did not think I was suited for it. As I looked for what to do with the rest of my life, the recession hit, and I could not get out.  This was not the time to be learning a new skill or starting a new business from scratch. And I think it was that—my inability to get out—that forced me to decide to become the dentist I am today.  

As I sat in a room in a hotel in Whistler (for those of you who want to know more about that, check out “My Story” on our YouTube channel), I spent 2 weeks focusing on how to be the dentist I wanted to be, love what I do (since for me, there was no other alternative), and create my ultimate dental practice.  As I sat for 2 weeks alone and wrote from sunrise to midnight with barely a break to eat, I focused on my vision, what I would look like when I was done, when my practice was done, and how others would see it when I had finally created my ultimate practice.  As my vision became clear, I had built a burning desire to have it, to become it right away. But how, in a recession, could I achieve my Ultimate Practice, and do so in 1 year? Through a specifically built and executed Strategic Plan.  

Saved by the Plan

Looking into how other highly successful people achieved their ultimate levels and built a business that others only dream about, I became obsessed about learning their concepts, their systems, and their ideas and then applied all that I learned to dentistry, to my practice.  I built a strategic plan that would result in my Ultimate Practice, in 12 months, and while others dropped in revenue by an average of 43%, my practice increased by 182% that year.  

Protecting your dental practice with a strategic Plan

Since then, we’ve done some incredible things and I will share those with you in other blogs, but if you would like to know about my strategic plan and how I rose in the toughest times since I had been in practice, check out the Ultimate Strategic Plan at UPB Dental Academy and an introduction video to this program on our YouTube channel.

Check back daily for the next article in this series of 5 Key Elements to Protecting Your Dental Practice In a Market Turndown