Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s apparent that the future of the US economy is at best uncertain and at worst in big trouble. I’ve practiced through 4 economic recessions and no two are the same.
None of us knows exactly what’s going to happen, but with unemployment and inflationary concerns looming, there are steps that every orthodontist can take to protect themselves and their practices.
1. Preserve Cash
This one is a no-brainer. Obviously, in an uncertain economy, it’s essential that you and your business have enough solvency to ride out any potential storm. How do you do this?
Start by analyzing expenses and be smart. As one of my early mentors used to tell me: “There are only 100 pennies in every dollar and if you spend an extra one, that’s one less to take home later.”
Look at your P&L (you are running a P&L, right?) and see where you can trim the fat, but don’t take away budgeted items that might make money for you or help you grow like certain technologies, patient communication software, marketing, CE, etc., and DO NOT just cut staff because you’re worried. A negative mindset begets a negative outcome.
Also make sure that you take 10% of every deposit and put it into a solvency account. Make sure that it’s tucked away and know that you’ll do fine without that 10%. But, after 6 months you could have $50,000, $100,000 or more saved for a “rainy day”.
2. Keep Meticulous Employee Records
There’s a reasonable chance that if the economy turns south, you may need to let people go, or, with the unemployment rate higher, you might decide to finally dismiss that one underperforming team member and upgrade. Having meticulous records of conversations, reviews and disciplinary action will protect you from a wrongful termination suit or harassment in the event that you let the wrong (or right) person go.
Stay in touch with your HR company to learn more about how you can properly document and store any employee related data to protect yourself and your practice.
3. Work On Your Internal Referral Program
With an uncertain future, the least expensive and most valuable referral program is that which is word of mouth.
Train your team to use those positive moments in your practice to kindly ask for referrals and develop a strong culture of growth where everyone-from the check in person to the TC-is comformable asking for referrals and reviews.
4. Learn Your Practice Stats
What’s your production/hr? How many appointments does your average case take? How many patients is each assistant seeing every day? Where are your emergency appointments coming from and how can they be prevented? How many patients are over their estimated treatment time?
The more you know about your practice, the more you will be able to make smart decisions about your future. Guessing what you’re doing is like flying a plane through the clouds without radar; it’s doomed for failure.
As I’ve always said, the more you work on your practice, the more you will get out of it. If you treat your business like a hobby or a “side hustle” you’ll get what you put in.
The economy is uncertain and you can’t control what happens, but you can try your best to control those factors over which you have influence. Take your time, follow a stepwise approach and learn from those around you.
Wishing you the best,