Levin Group views the COVID-19 crisis in three stages. Stage 1 is the crisis itself. Stage 2 is entering recovery. Stage 3 is recovery. We estimate it will take about 12 – 18 months for most orthodontic practices to bounce back. We are also currently estimating that practices will be down in production in 2020 anywhere from 15 to 50%. Why this large differential? Not all practices will approach the recovery in the correct manner.
In the science of business turnarounds, the companies that perform best in a crisis are the ones that:
Quickly tighten their infrastructure and increase overall efficiency
Invest in the right places, such as revenue-producing technologies or advisers who can guide them through the turnaround
So here are three steps that any orthodontic practice can take as you reopen and begin to enter the recovery stage.
First, this is a time for efficiency. Before the crisis, an orthodontic practice could have a high level of inefficiency (like chaotic afternoons) and still perform extremely well. Post-COVID-19, efficiency will be of paramount importance. Collections, case presentations, patient flow, convenient hours, customer service, communicating how the practice will keep patients safe, and dealing with patients who have financial challenges are just a few of the areas that need an extremely high level of efficiency. The more rapidly that systems are put in place (with an understanding that some of them may be temporary) the sooner the recovery will happen.
Second, you want to conserve cash. No great revelation here. However, many are advising to cut every expense possible. That is not the right strategy for a turnaround. You want to find opportunities to reduce monthly expenses without throwing everything out of the lifeboat. If you cut every possible expense right now you may not have the resources available to help you recover quickly.
Third, use your advisers. In a time of unprecedented crisis, you want calm experts who can guide you. Keep in mind that there’s a great deal that we do not know. New information is coming out day-by-day and your experts are working to interpret it. Using your experts could save time, help avoid mistakes, and missed opportunities.
The following recommendations, combined with following classic business turnaround strategies, will benefit any orthodontic practice during the recovery period.