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Just working on the practice survey for the November issue of Dental Economics. One of the quotes within the article is from Dr. Roger Levin. He states, "Traditionally it takes six to 12 months for economic trends to affect dental practices. The full impact of the downturn may be yet to come."

What do you think? Are things bad now in the dental office? Will they get worse? Is this just a "bump in the road?"

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In my 29 years as a dental hygienist this is the worse I have ever seen it. New York City and Long Island has slowed down. I have been in contact with several hygienist across the USA that are working less days.
It wasn't this bad during the recession in the 1990's. Patients are seeking to maintain their teeth but not agreeing to new treatment unless absolutely necessary.
We need to ride the wave during these times. Be patient and wait for the patients to be ready for treatment and not push.
Greed has gotten America into this situation. Hopefully people will learn a lesson.
Well - if it takes 12 months, I'm not looking forward to a one-year update. I'm hearing it from my colleagues as well - it's busy still but not as busy as last year. I think it will be more pronounced after the first of the year. We still are seeing many patients that want to use their yearly maximum. Some have said that they're losing dental coverage next year or they're not sure they'll have their job for the long term. On the positive side, use the downtime for office/team enrichment. With all the webinars and journals out there, you could put together a team meeting so that when the economy does turn around you'll be ready for the rush of patients that put off all that work.
Teresa, I agree with you. I have plenty of project to keep me busy.
I'm anxious to be at the ADA meeting in San Antonio and really hear the "buzz" on the show floor. I hear from plenty of practices that they're doing fine, but again, not as fine as last year. The big cases are down and case presentation is becoming a challenge. Gas prices are going down for the moment (at least here in Oklahoma) but people are still having to choose between clothes and/or gas and/or food in some cases. With those thoughts, are people really going to value their oral health? They need to, of course, but that's from our vantage point ... and I'm not sure our vantage point is shared by the rest of the country.
Just returning from the AADOM Conference, I heard a mixture of what is affecting patients decision for Dental Care. Our practice was asked to participate in a Care Credit Research Group and there was about 12 of us participating in this group survey. Our production now in comparison to a year ago, we are on the upclimb. We will finish with the best year ever. I think if you believe economic trends will affect your dental practice, it will happen. If you find ways to make sure it doesn't happen and be proactive, the impact won't be quite so negative. The "buzz" that I did hear were the no shows and broken appointments, which we also continue to experience. The one idea I did hear that I believe will impact some of those new patient no shows is to have the dentist to personally call the patient and welcome them to the practice. It is because of the dentist and his reputation that brings most patients to your practice and I totally agree, this method of welcoming patients to the practice will have a tremendous impact and should affect the outcome. You can be sure we will give it a shot!
Good points all around. I agree with you Lisa ... mindset has a lot to do with anything in life. If you believe bad things will happen, they probably will. If you believe a patient isn't going to accept a treatment plan, he or she probably won't. Attitude affects much in our lives.
Lisa- I was at that meeting - I would have loved to meet you! I talked about the economy in my seminar - it was on the minds of many people. At the roundtable meeting Friday night, it was a hot topic in our particular group. We talked about marketing and one member was considering signing up with some PPO's just to get patients.

It was a very good meeting - the AADOM picked a great location. Tampa in September is not bad at all!
What your dental practice experiences depends on your own outlook and your own ACTIONS. There is NO ONE that must
be a "victim" of "the economy"! YOU are your own economy inside your dental practice.

Is it more difficult to acquire new patients? Sure. Is it less likely that the same percentage will say "yes"...yes. Are some people cutting back? Of course. So what. As I see it you have 2 choices:

1- Duck your head into your shell like a turtle...wait...then stick it out sometime later to see if everything is OK. (not recommended)

2- Take the bull by the horns, INCREASE your marketing, INCREASE your communications with your patients, make them SPECIAL OFFERS that compel them to do something about their dental conditions. Be a BEACON of GOOD NEWS for your patients. During challenging economic times, success can still be had for those willing to dig deeper, work harder, focus on the fundamentals, and stay positive.

Add to your procedure mix. Focus marketing on "needs based" dentistry first, optional dentistry second. When investments are being throttled by a turbulent market, "investing in your teeth" may be THE most sound investment for many right now! For dentists, investing in the practice is BY FAR the way to go...primarily.

At least temporarily, gone are the days when you can succeed in spite of poor business practices, sloppy management, and lack of effective communications skills. Those that thrive will be fewer, but they will be the ones who are undeterred by outside forces and find ways to disregard and overcome them!

All my best,

Dr. Chris Bowman - Dental Insiders Alliance
Dr Bowman - I so totally agree with your wise advise!! Be a "victim" or rise above by becoming proactive and creative! Shift gears! Stay positive and press forward! Don't wait for the "gloom and doom" to overwhelm you! Just this week, we implemented a process that we hope will create a bond between the doctor and new patients. Before the new patient even enters our office and within 2 days of their calling in to schedule their new patient appointments, our doctors are calling them to welcome them to the practice with anticipation that new patients will keep their appointments. I'll keep you posted on our progress! My next "hip pocket" idea I will implement is to really work with the staff on Greg Stanley's "Master Referral" process. If you haven't listened to these tapes you better get them fast. They are awesome!
As a lab owner, I am seeing less of the normal cases. I feel is interesting is that our implants and larger cases are on the rise. We are also seeing a shift towards zirconia. Our doctors say it's a great alternative considering the alloy pricing lately.
a well designed marketing plan is one factor. But certainly not to be underestimated is our power to deliver fantastic that is what takes u thru the slight ups and downs.

as a student of what Chris Bowman he is right on the $.
this is a time when u can increase your market share as others contract u expand!
No one can deny that this economy is hitting many people hard. However, during tough times IS the time to examine your process, change, and grow. No one grows in a shadow of gloom and doom. The challenge everyday is to do what everyone says cannot be done. And, it's a blast!



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