If you think that the economy is the principal driver of your practice’s success, you’re partly right. It’s true that dentists’ incomes overall took a hit during the Great Recession. But not every dentist was impacted equally.
Part of the reason that some dentists continued to prosper while others were hurting is the fact that dentistry is local. Recessions impact small businesses and large industries unequally – people will cut back on dining out when times are rough, but they typically won’t cut back on buying groceries. They’ll keep their internet and/or cable provider even if Netflix or Amazon Prime has to go.
And people aren’t affected equally by an economic downturn. Even during the Great Recession, there was a significant minority of people – 20 to 40 percent – who retained the resources to go fee for service for the dentist, and the dental procedures, they wanted.
There’s a useful takeaway here that should be part of your 2020 planning.
You Can Make Your Practice “Bulletproof”
When times are tough, people are more concerned about keeping the lights on and having food in the house than they are about getting dental work. That’s why dentists’ incomes declined during the previous downturn; their schedules were emptier, and for the most part they were doing routine exams and drill and fills.
The dental practices that thrived were the ones who had more patients with discretionary income. Sure, they had some routine cases, but they had more people who wanted veneers, crowns, implants, and other high-value procedures. Since those procedures are worth many times the value of routine dentistry, some dentists did just fine.
Getting more high-value patients allows you to work less and make the same amount or more. If you’re one of the tens of thousands of dentists who race between operatories, that might sound pretty good. Of course, you can also work a little less and make a lot more, and that has to sound good.
That’s what Dr. Michael Kirchner of Indian decided to do. He said, “Since we’ve started with SmartBox, we’ve hired about four or five more staff. We’ve hired another dentist. I think from this time last year we’re up about 25 to 30 percent, and at this point our main issue is having enough space to put folks.
“Overall, what I wanted to do was work less but also to expand the office. I guess overall I’d like to be practicing about three days a week, and then have other doctors come in and work the other days. And so, it’s been a great way to really free up my time.
“My kids are growing up, and it got to the point where I just needed to make a decision to spend more time with them. Switching to SmartBox has really allowed me to do that.”
The Crystal Ball Says, “Meh.”
Nobody can predict with any accuracy exactly when the next economic downturn might occur or had severe it will be. But the time to plan for that inevitable occurrence is now.
We’ll be happy to show you what’s possible for your practice. Schedule a Practice Growth Call with Ashley Best.