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How some doctors made 2020 their best year ever

Dec. 1, 2020
Dentist-clients who followed the strategies outlined here showed that 21% had their best month ever in June 2020. Another 30% had their best month ever in July 2020. What did they do that was so successful?
Jay Geier, Founder, Scheduling Institute

Such an extraordinary year has required many extraordinary efforts. And yet, the consistent focus on ordinary business priorities—specifically, the patient experience, new-patient generation, and team training and development—has resulted in “extra-ordinary” results for many practices.

In contrast to the dental industry overall, a survey of Scheduling Institute (SI) clients who followed the key strategies outlined in this article showed that 21% had their best month ever in June 2020. Another 30% had their best month ever in July 2020. And in comparing June to January, which was prepandemic, 49% increased collections and 41% increased new patients

How is it possible that so many doctors are on track to have their best year ever, even though their offices were closed for 8–10 weeks? The answer is this: by continuing to follow proven strategies that were generating growth and profitability before the pandemic hit. Instead of allowing themselves to feel out of control, they continued to manage all those things that were within their control. They stayed focused on serving their patients and supporting their team members. 

These are, by the way, the same strategies that bulletproof a practice so it can continue to thrive in spite of unfavorable economic conditions. We know this to be true because an earlier survey of SI clients showed that practices who followed these strategies dramatically outperformed the dental industry overall in the years following the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 (figure 1).

Strategies to recover and bulletproof your practice

Use the following proven strategies to overcome any period of economic uncertainty—not just recessions. Learn to thrive in the current economy and prepare for whatever lies ahead.

Recognize the opportunities—Practices that do the right things prosper during economic downturns and recessions. They are also positioned to grow that much faster as the economy recovers. In other words, when you view an economic downturn as fuel for growth—instead of an excuse for lack of it—your practice can grow despite the economy.

Block out the noise—Staying focused on the things you can control is much easier when you’re not being distracted and drained by the incessant barrage of negativity around all the things you cannot control. Create a sort of “bubble” around your brain, then allow in only what will create positive energy, intentional behaviors, and productive actions around those things over which you do have control and/or influence.

Get your team into the bubble—Teach your team members to establish their own mini-bubbles. When people come into the office with a pessimistic attitude due to all the negativity from which they haven’t shielded themselves, they bring down everyone around them—including the patients. Keep your people focused on the things they can control, which are all the things they should be doing to deliver a great patient experience.

Leverage increased unemployment to strengthen and build your team—Periods of higher-than-usual unemployment are ideal times to increase the value and caliber of the most important asset of your business—your human capital. Now’s a great time to upgrade and expand your team with top-quality talent, let go of underperformers, and turbocharge growth by bringing on a revenue-producing associate or hygienist.

Be the leader your team needs you to be—Be a stabilizing factor for your people in uncertain times by exhibiting the self-confidence that implies you will get through this together. If you stop communicating, you’ll put them into a downward spiral with devastating consequences to your patients and your practice. Stay focused on the things you can control, involve your team, and be the leader they need you to be.

Accurately assess and address financial status—Assess the financial resources you have to work with based on a positive mindset that practices can prosper in tough economic times. Keep your decisions fact-based and not emotional as you prioritize where to invest your time and money so you get the biggest return in the shortest time— e.g., continuing to train and develop your team, deliver a superior patient experience, and attract new patients. 

Remain patient-centric—This essential strategy will go a long way to resolve current financial distress and recession-proof your business. Make every patient feel their care and convenience is of paramount importance. For example: phones are answered during times when most practices turn on voicemail; extended hours; an impressive lobby; and a team who is continually trained to deliver an outstanding patient experience.

Answer phones when patients want to call—The majority of practices send their phones to voicemail at times when it is most convenient for patients to call—i.e., before and after work, during lunch, and Saturdays. On average, more people call your office each day than come in, so never underestimate its role in a great patient experience and in the growth of your business.

Answer your phones effectively—Answering phone calls from potential new patients and converting them to actual new patients by successfully booking appointments are two different things. The latter requires specific team training on how to handle the call to the patient’s satisfaction and in a way that’s also beneficial for the business. Such training is one of the easiest and highest return investments you can make.

Create a new normal in 2021 that’s better than your old one. Don’t be distracted by circumstances and uncertainties beyond your control. Create your own certainty by following these proven strategies that will put you on the road to recovery and long-term growth.  

Author’s note: For a limited time, SI is offering DE readers a full list of the bulletproofing strategies with additional detail on each one. Go to schedulinginstitute.com/destrategies to request your copy.


1.   Dentist Earnings and Busyness in the U.S. American Dental Association Health Policy Institute. Accessed November 23, 2020. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIGraphic_1118_1.pdf

2. Scheduling Institute internal data

JAY GEIER is a world authority on growing independent practices, which can be kept for a lifetime of revenue or sold for maximum value. He is the founder and CEO of Scheduling Institute, a firm that specializes in team training, doctor coaching, and helping people live up to their full potentials.

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