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Dentists, it can be difficult to know what to say to your team during the coronavirus shutdown. The information keeps changing and you may not have answers to basic questions like when will you reopen your dental practice?

It’s in times of uncertainty and stress that it’s more important than ever to communicate clearly and consistently, said John Meis, DDS.



Dr. Meis is an international speaker, two-time Amazon best-selling author, and a dental consultant. He’s been a highly-productive practicing dentist, built a large group practice, and served as president of one of the 20 largest DSOs in the country. He leads two consulting firms. Spark Dental Network helps small-to-medium-sized dental groups create sustainable growth. The Team Training Institute helps practices improve productivity, profitability, and peace of mind.

In this video, he talked to Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar about what dentists should say to their teams, how frequently they should communicate, and some of the best methods he’s found to stay in touch while many team members are at home.


What to Say and How to Say It

Businessman Mark Cuban recently said how we treat our team members during this time is going to determine how successfully we overcome this crisis. Many people feel isolated right now, and that can increase feelings of anxiety and anger. One woman recently posted to a Facebook dental group page that she had worked for her dentist for 18 years but had not heard from him once since she was told she was being temporarily laid off.

Fortunately, there are many ways to stay in touch and let team members know that you care about their well-being.

  1. Individual Phone Calls: This is the most personalized form of communication and allows the dentist to find out what’s happening with each team member.
  2. Virtual Town Halls: Dr. Meis and his partners host a live Facebook update several days a week at 4 p.m. ET on Facebook.com/TeamTrainingInstitute.  This is open to the public. Dentists also can host private Facebook chats for just their team members, or use a service like Zoom or GoToMeeting. 
  3. Video Message Twice a Week: Dr. Meis records an update twice a week that he shares with his team to keep them informed. Below is an outline of the messaging he uses for those updates.


Messaging for Dental Practice Teams

  1. Show Empathy: The first part of any message should be “I care about you.” Let your team know that you understand how difficult this time is for them, and that you know filing for unemployment has not been easy.
  2. Current Plan: Share the latest guidance from the ADA and your local health officials, and what you’re doing. Have you talked to your lenders or applied for any loans? Did insurance A/R come in? Let your team know how you’re handling dental emergency calls, what you’re communicating to patients, and when you think you might be able to reopen.
  3. Realistic Expectations: Set the expectation that things are fluid, and you’re using the data provided by the ADA and the state/local government to guide your decisions. It’s ok to not have all the answers.
  4. Inspire Confidence: As leaders, the dentists set the tone of the conversation. Dr. Meis suggests using language like, “We’re going to get through this. We need to stick together and do everything that we can do right now to mentally and physically prepare ourselves so when we come back to work, we can deliver a really amazing patient experience.”
  5. Schedule Next Update: Before you finish the call or video message, let your team know when they will hear from you next.


Decision Matrix

Dr. Meis suggests letting your team know the decision matrix you’re using to determine your next steps. For many dentists, this matrix ties into their core values. For Dr. Meis, these include:

  1. Team & Patient Safety
  2. Legal, Moral & Ethical Obligations to Serve Patients
  3. Survival of the Business
  4. Being as Generous as Possible
  5. Be Prepared to Reopen


Inspire Your Team

It’s easier to inspire your team if you have confidence in yourself, said Dr. Meis.

“If you think you’re going to reopen your practice and it’s going to be filled with patients, and you’re working towards making that happen, then you’re going to be on the right track,” said Dr. Meis. “If your attitude is this is awful, and patients won’t accept any treatment, and we’re going to be sitting around, then that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”


Additional Resources

Dentists have a lot of free resources available to them including webinars, Facebook support groups and peer groups. Dr. Meis is also making his newest book available for free. It’s called “The Ultimate Guide to Doubling or Tripling Your Practice Production” and is available at www.DrJohnsFreeBook.com.

Patient Prism has made its library of hundreds of interviews with dental industry leaders, training resources, and COVID-19 resources free for 90 days. Visit Academy.PatientPrism.com to gain access.

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