COVID-19 Business Help and Advice for Dental Practices

2020 Mar 15

COVID-19 Business Help and Advice for Dental Practices

“Keep safe, keep healthy, and most importantly keep positive, don’t let fear dominate your life and your mindset”

COVID-19 – Free Crisis Business Support Hotline 0207 100 8788

ALL HELP AND ADVICE PROVIDED VIA OUR HOTLINE IS COMPLETELY FREE

As we continue to digest the constant news flow of COVID-19, I wanted to reach out to everyone across the Dental community to see if anyone needs any Dental Business help or assistance.

There will be business decisions and problems that you will no doubt encounter over the next few weeks and months that you have never experienced before.

It’s hard to avoid the constant barrage of fear mongering, but now is the time to stand strong and fight the fear, for you, your business, your team, your family and your communities.

So if you need ANY DENTAL BUSINESS HELP OR ADVICE, regarding your Dental Practice our team are ready and able to assist you in these fast-changing challenging times.

We have been inundated with a variety of questions on how to manage this crisis in the last week, below is my attempt to answer some of these!

FAQ’s we have faced in the last week

1.Leadership and Team Management

Firstly, you will not get through this crisis alone.

Now more than ever you will need to lead from the front, and rally your team behind you. They may be scared (you maybe scared) but together you will need to work smartly and prepare for the worst possible scenarios, such as closure.

Some difficult conversations may need to be had regarding pay, such as paying minimal contracted hours/requesting for some of your team to take unpaid leave, but this should only be as a very last resort.

By ensuring you continue to pay your team, even if you are forced to close, will ensure team loyalty like you have never known before.

Speak to your team early and often, and air your concerns and problems. You maybe surprised how accommodating and helpful they will be.

In times of need, people tend to flock together – i.e. herd community (following the UK’s herd immunity approach).

2.Cash flow

On the assumption you close for an extended period of time your cash flow will be greatly impacted. You will need to continue to pay your team (see above) and will have overheads that need paying.

Hopefully you will have a rainy day fund to assist in such situations but if you don’t, there are a few things you need to address early on, rather than burying your head in the sand.

  1. Calculate the worst case scenario and how much cash you will need if you close for a number of weeks/months. If you have the funds to cover this, great, if not speak to your bank ASAP to extend your overdraft. As an alternative, please speak to Nigel or Dan in our finance team who are experts at raising cash quickly. They have strong relationships with secondary and tertiary lenders who are able to assist promptly.
  2. Contact your suppliers early on, saying you are experiencing cash flow issues, and that you have every intention to pay them but your practice has been impacted by COVID-19. Some maybe accommodating, others won’t, but definitely do this, just to manage the situation.
  3. Speak to your accountant and see if they can assist with HMRC related payments. Ensure HMRC are made aware of the situation and that these are extraordinary circumstances beyond everyone’s control. We are helping several clients with payment plans with HMRC, so if you need assistance contact Nathan or Alex in our team.
  4. As we approach the year end for hitting your NHS UDA targets, the last thing you needed was this virus. If you think you are going to struggle to hit the targets contact your local area teams ASAP, citing the Force Majeure clauses in your contract. They may be able to assist you if you speak to them as early as possible.
  5. Speak to your insurers, and ascertain if you can activate the Force Majeure clauses in your business interruption insurance policy. They maybe able to provide cash in such situations, but all policies vary.

3.Patients

Communicate, communicate and communicate with them. Via email and social media make sure your patients know what is happening and that you are open for business and taking all the necessary precautions.

Make sure they are aware that you are following all the relevant infection control guidelines and that if they are sick to follow Public Health England’s guidance.

You don’t want a sick patient to come to your clinic as this could lead to the closure of your practice if your team become sick, so make sure you are crystal clear to your patients on what they must do and to stay away if they have the symptoms relating to COVID-19.

The BDA have provided guidance on what to do on the following link:

https://www.bda.org/advice/Coronavirus/Pages/faqs.aspx

Make sure you read this and follow this advice in detail.

Keep the communication channels open regularly with your patients and make sure they are aware that you are open. Most patients want to support their local businesses, but it’s imperative you speak to them regularly over all the necessary channels.

4.Marketing

This appears to be a recurring question I am seeing across various social media platforms – should you cut your marketing budget in this time of crisis?

That’s a difficult decision and you will need to be flexible on this.

On the one hand, if less patients are actually making a dental purchasing decision you may think its time to cut back and wait until this whole ugly episode passes. However, if more patients are at home, surfing the web and on social media, an argument could easily be justified to actually increase your marketing spend.

The more current and potential patients see your marketing, when they are ready, they are likely to come to you. In addition, whilst everyone is cutting back, you are seen more, which only helps you take any market share in the markets you operate within.

This will be greatly dictated by your cash flow (see above) and whether you are forced to close, but if you remain open, albeit it with less patients coming through, I would advise to keep your marketing going strongly, perhaps trying to optimise it where required as when we do eventually get out of this episode you will hopefully hit the road running!

How Team Samera can Help!

We have taken the decision to move the majority of our team to their home locations over this week, and our IT and phone networks are all set up to help anyone and everyone who needs help.

I appreciate business and money may well be down the pecking order for most in these unprecedented times, but the reality is businesses will need to try and keep things afloat for all concerned stakeholders.

Further available online help

We will be regularly updating the following for advice and tips during this crisis:

  1. This Blog Page
  2. Our Facebook Group Page – You can join here
  3. Our Facebook Page
  4. My personal linked in page

COVID-19 – Free Crisis Business Support Hotline 0207 100 8788

ALL HELP AND ADVICE PROVIDED VIA OUR HOTLINE IS COMPLETELY FREE

Call our free hotline if you need help or advice on any of the following areas:

  • Crisis Management Planning
  • Business Contingency Planning
  • Keeping patients informed with effective communication strategies
  • Maintaining your income streams
  • Managing cash flow
  • Paying your team
  • Paying your overheads and suppliers
  • Paying HMRC
  • Leadership and keeping your team motivated in these challenging times
  • Effective marketing of your services to keep a flow of patients coming to your dental practice
  • Dealing with insurance related claims
  • In fact, any business related issue

In a nutshell, call us if you need any business related help.

Please note this is not a money making exercise, just a genuine attempt to help those who need it. All advice we provide over the phone will be free to anyone who calls.

A problem shared, is a problem halved – period.

Finally, keep safe, keep healthy, and most importantly keep positive, don’t let fear dominate your life and your mindset.

Please share this post to anyone who may need help in these extraordinary times with their Dental Practice.

Thank you,

Arun Mehra

About arun

Arun Mehra FCA is a world leading expert on Dental Business and CEO of Samera. He has extensive expertise on financing, deal structuring and tax issues arising in Dental Businesses.

Outside of Dentistry, you can probably find him with a backpack travelling around the world.