Dentist and coach Steven Schluentz answers the most common questions dental practices are facing in relation to the current crisis.
Drawing on his significant experience, both from his own daily practice as well as a more comprehensive base-care perspective for patients around the world, Dr. Steven Schluentz answered questions posed by dental professionals from across the globe during the Curaden Academy webinar. Below are his answers to eight of the questions raised, regarding how best to manage dental practices during this current, never-before-experienced global pandemic.
1. As leaders, how do we keep our team calm when everyone else is stressing out?
First of all, do not downplay the emotions that your team is feeling. Your employees are most probably reliant on their job in order to provide for their families, just as dentists are reliant on their practice as a sole source of income. This is the moment to be empathetic and to understand what different people are going through.
Little is known yet on when everybody can start practicing again, but the thing that we can do to help ourselves and others (however improbable it may sound) is to practice gratitude. We cannot control what’s going on now, but we can help people shift the focus of their mindset and orientation.
Words are powerful, and encouraging the people around you with “We can get through this together,” will serve an important purpose.
2. How do you convince people that staying home matters?
Be the one to promote the reasons behind why everybody’s actions matter. One person does make a difference, and we are all in the same boat. Get yourself familiar with the reasons why it is essential to give up some of the comfort now, and continue to promote that. Understand that you cannot control other people, but you can focus on the things you can do to influence them.
Dr. Schluentz helps dentists with technical training and implementing strategies in their practice to rapidly accelerate their profitability. His consulting and trainings focus on leading practice owners to simplify their comprehensive practice, reach more patients with organic marketing strategies and get more case acceptance for wellness-based dental practices.
3. How do you manage a patient that wants to be seen in your practice now, whose case isn’t considered urgent?
One of the reasons we feel frustrated now is that we no longer have control of the things that we used to. And humans like to be in control. Let the patients choose how they want to handle their care; give them control over their situation and listen to them. The panic is to be expected to some extent and your patients have a right to be concerned. Calm them by telling about the procedures and measures taken, and the protocols and regulations provided by your country.
Tell them: “I understand your concerns, but your case isn’t an urgent one under the current mandated guidelines, so as much as I’d like to see you, I have to follow the government’s protocol in order to protect all of our safety.” But primarily, listen and be there for them. That’s the best thing to do.
4. Is it advisory to practice tele-dentistry right now?
There are many people that practice tele-dentistry on different levels, and there are platforms that allow dentists to do so. This tool is not perfect, because at the end of the day we need to be there with the patient actually treating him. But such platforms are good in case of emergencies or potential new patients. They serve as a way to get first aid recommendations to a patient, and also become a promotion tool for getting new patients once the crisis is over.
Education never stops
The best way to prevent oneself from feeling fearful is preparation. Watch the free webinar ‘3 Things You Need To Work On During The Pandemic’ – and do your homework. The post-pandemic era won’t then catch you unprepared, as you’ll learn how to successfully navigate achieving the best mindset, how to align your business with your core values and how to plan for profit. Register on curadencampus.com.
5. What can dental students do to improve their skills?
Take this time of adversity as an opportunity to learn what you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to, but sooner or later would have found yourself to be missing as a useful skill. Most dental universities do not teach business skills. So study communication skills, sales skills: the soft skills. Learn more about business and economics. Leaders of dental practices have to understand how to structure business; how to create more profitable practices that can serve more people. Take this time as an opportunity to continuously work on yourself.
6. Are there any dental practice business books I should read?
A lot of business books are dependent on the type of business you want to build. Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is great for everyone who wants to understand the benefits of business differentiation. A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry by Lindsey D. Pankey and Willian J. Davis is more about the comprehensive base care and the essential systems to run a wellness-based practice. Or another one, Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz, looks into underlying structural resistances that your practice will face when you make a shift in the practice.
“This situation will change the public’s perception and there’s going to be a shift towards patients that are looking for more wellness-based services.”
7. How could the corona crisis change dental practices in future?
The probability is that the crisis will cause a shift in focus towards the more infection-related protocols, including a reduction in, and protection from, the aerosols that are generated during dental procedures. This situation will change the public’s perception and there’s going to be a shift towards patients that are looking for more wellness-based services.
8. How do we stop the fear after the epidemic ends?
Most probably, there will be a residual fear long after the pandemic ends and an automatic form of social distancing will linger. But we can help reduce the fear as we go through these uncharted times by working on ourselves, our continuous practice of gratitude and most importantly, by continuing focusing and working towards the results we want and we can control. The fear will eventually subside.