The two elements that are going to sustain you back into profitability are cash and cash flow. As your practice restarts, you will have to generate enough revenues to give you this turnaround of the business and stimulate the cash flow.
You also need to be looking strategically at how you will use your resources to help you in recovery. As you re-emerge from lockdown, you may find yourself in a very discouraged and challenging financial situation.
Your focus should be on the keywords Preparation, Planning and Communication. Here are a few ideas that will help you to do this.
21 steps you can take to ensure Cash Flow after lockdown:
- Raise your fees. Although some might see this as a challenge, if you have the whole sales structure in place, then this should not be difficult. Even raising your fees by 10% (which isn’t very noticeable, by the way), you will significantly increase your Turnover.
- Establish Single Fee Treatment Plans. This enables your patients to focus on the treatment as opposed to dissecting each component of the Treatment Plan. When this happens, they invariably self-diagnose to remove important treatment components out of the plan.
- Use a Smile Questionnaire for every single patient. Ask them questions to see if they have any other concerns or would be interested in any other treatments you offer. If you don’t ask them, they may assume you don’t do that treatment.
- Collect overdue accounts. Your business should not have any bad debt. Be sympathetic to your patients but also collect what is due. Many patients, you might find, want to clear their debts to give themselves a more realistic picture of their finances. Also, they might have forgotten about you. Call them and remind them.
- Chase up incomplete treatment plans. There may be many treatments that need to be completed but were interrupted before lockdown. Some patients may have forgotten about making a new appointment.
- Chase up people that inquired, had NP Cons but no EX. These patients have already been introduced to your practice ethos and may now be in a position to continue the process for an examination. Alternatively, they may have experienced some problems during lockdown, so rather than they call up another practice, why don’t you call them up instead.
- See if you can save money on credit card processing. There’s a new game for credit card processing – you pay just a small monthly flat fee and no “overage percentage.”
- Renegotiate your lease. Even if your lease isn’t up, you can redo your terms if you sign on for a few more years. Dentists are dream tenants, and you aren’t going anywhere. So, leverage that to your advantage. This can immediately put lots of cash in your pocket and is one of the easiest ways to save money long-term.
- Have a conversation with your accountant. There are accountants, and there are accountants. Not only can they analyse your cash flow and make suggested improvements, but they can also look for tax deductions and opportunities of which you may not be aware. This move alone can put thousands back into your cash flow and pocket!
- Have a conversation with your Bank Manager. There may be different ways your bank manager may be able to help you out. A classic example would be Bounce Back Loans. You could use the loan to gain a return on an investment.
- Stop watching it get worse. One of the most dangerous phrases in dentistry is “Let’s watch it.” But the question is, “watch it” do what? We are simply watching a tooth, or dental condition get worse. Dental problems do not reverse themselves or get better on their own. Tell your patients what they need.
- Review your expenses. Complacency can literally kill your cash flow. Most of us have many fees on auto-pilot, costing thousands each year. When was the last time you reviewed all of your insurance policies? They can all be re-negotiated. Talk to your insurance companies, such as practice liability and even indemnity companies and see if they can do something for you. Here, every little will count. You can ask for better pricing; you should also find out if you’re over-insured. And while you are at it, check every expense automatically invoiced each month. You should be making sure that you get a Return on each Investment. Otherwise, it is simply a liability. You should look at each expense and ask yourself: Is this helping me stay alive and make more money, or is it just a luxury I can do without right now?
- Start a Membership Plan. If patients do not want anything you currently offer, then make a membership plan cost-effective for them.
- Increase your Marketing endeavours. This is certainly the time to re-focus on your marketing strategies. It does not have to be expensive if you manage this carefully and in a considered way. The message however, is now slightly different as you are now communicating care and empathy.
- Focus on Turnover. Continue to keep a keen eye on achieving your financial targets. Most of your efforts should be on comprehensive treatment planning. This will give you and your patients the fullest opportunities for overall long term care and help your business sales too.
- Train your team on better verbal skills. The better your team can communicate with your patients, the more likely it will be that your patients accept your treatment plans. Having the correct verbal skills means that your entire team are sending out the same message. Mismatched unclear messages can lead to confusion and thereafter, overall uncertainty whether you are the practice for them.
- Train everyone on Telephone Skills and New Patient TCO Consultations. You never know where that shining star might be hiding in your team. I would suggest everyone is trained to Treatment Coordinator level at least in the verbal skills. This way, your entire team produces quality conversation and communication.
- Diary management with Dovetail rooms and Blocked Scheduling. Engineering your appointment diaries to meet your financial targets and, at the same time, reduce team stress can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Plan your diary for optimal use of each room at all times.
- Extended hours and extended working week. You may want to introduce an extension of available hours for patient care whilst you are combatting extensive fallow time in between patients. One idea is to introduce two teams via different team rotas that work at slightly different hours to eventually add up to a longer working day. So, one team can start early and finish early; whilst the other starts later and finishes later.
- PPE charge to patients. If you find that your PPE overheads are eating into your profits, then you may want to introduce a PPE surcharge.
- Use the newly introduced UK government initiative. This is the Kickstart Scheme. The government will pay for a 6-month work placement for 16-24-year-olds on universal credit. The government will cover a minimum wage for 25 hours a week, plus national insurance and pension contributions. This is especially if you need unskilled non-clinical team members which you can train further. You can use these team members in administrative duties or scripted follow-up calls. I understand that this may be limited use in dentistry, but certain practices may need this cover, especially if they have recently lost team members.
If you would like to talk to me about your cash flow, simply give me a call. Let’s strategically think of the best solutions for you.