By Quintin L. Gunn, Sr., SMSDRS.com
During this time of economic uncertainty, many practice groups are worried about surviving what's ahead. We at Social Media Solutions For Doctors understand this is a legitimate worry given the temporary loss of lead volume, patient consults, and actual revenue loss from being unable to treat fee for service patients.
Now Is Not The Time To Panic! There is much to be done during this slow period.
As the leader of your practice, what can you do to help maintain your business and reassure your staff that you can and will weather the storm? See Below:
The first thing you should do is find out how much cash reserves you have on hand and how long that will last? Then reach out to all your stakeholders now!
Who are your stakeholders?
- Banks that you may have loans with both business and personal
The first thing to do is see about setting up deferments for pending payments for at least 90 days
Inquire about obtaining a six-month line of capital/credit to give you the ability to stay afloat, especially with low-interest loans that are now available ( Get As Much As Your Credit Will Allow You To Get and Spread The Loan Out For As Long As You Can. Rates May Never Be This Low Again!)
If a loan is available, we advise you to pay off as many obligations as you can, which might be below 5k, this will reduce your debt load and your stress!
We hope that you're not overextended in your finances for trying to maintain a lifestyle image that is not based on the reality of your income. This could limit your ability to call in favors or ask for assistance
A. Vendors and Suppliers - In most cases, these companies themselves will be affected, but if you've had a long-standing relationship, they will more than likely be willing to work with you on payments
B. Your Staff: Meet with them immediately, let them know what's happening, and what you plan to do. Reassure them that you intend on doing everything within your ability to maintain the practice, but that furloughs may be necessary to preserve the viability of the practice. Even if it's just a temporary situation. Transparency is vital to trust and to develop buy-in for critical decisions that have to be made during a financial crisis.
Whom do you meet with first? Your frontline Managers, as they and you, will be the ones to talk with the team about layoffs if they are needed.
Ask for volunteers, but have in mind positions that are not critical to business operations for the initial round of layoffs. If you can afford to give them at least two weeks' pay at dismissal, that will help them to at least cover their bills. Any remaining payments would be handled through unemployment.
If you have any staff members working from home handling patient files, please make sure that they log in using a HIPAA compliant portal.
C. Check your insurance policy to determine you have Business Interruption Insurance/Loss Of Use coverage due to the national emergency/ disaster and your requirement to shut down the business. This may be a covered loss and could replace some of your revenues.
During this time, it would also be wise to determine what services can be moved to a more automated process to help reduce your cost over the long run.
Now would also be a great time to promote and sell your skincare or other products online through drop shipment rather than just letting products sit on the shelf, costing you money. Run promotional specials and have a dedicated line for orders.
In the last two years, there have been significant changes within and surrounding the internet, as mobile phones have become a dominant factor in terms of how everyone communicates. These changes have been so dramatic that Google even had to modify its search perimeters to a Mobile-First platform. Mobile online traffic has already blown by desktops, laptops, and IPads. Google using sound business practices decided to go where the traffic is leading, and that traffic is mobile-first search.
3. If you have not invested in social media, now is the time. Whether it be Google My Business, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.,
Social media is the tool of communication for our generation, so if you have not yet adopted a robust program, seek out individual companies or agencies that can help you with this. In most cases, they have content writers and graphic designers who can help you with messaging.
With all social platforms, which are where consumers gather to talk about the events of the day, you will need to stay connected regularly with updates and words of encouragement. This will engender an appreciation for you and your practice but also create a sense of community, which is very much needed at this time. Plus, by so doing, you stay Top Of Mind once the crisis subsides.
If you do have social media and other marketing tools of communication like newsletters, text messaging, as well as Facebook Messanger or What's App messenger, utilize these platforms to keep everyone in the know about what's happening with the practice.
Now is the time to educate your patient population and maybe even set up chat groups to talk about FAQ that they want to ask while they have time off so when things turn around, they know whom to come to for services.
What additional online professional education or training can you take advantage of now that you have a little more spare time?
What blogs about treatments from your perspective can you write and have posted to your website?
You are starting with your top five services or treatments. Now would be a great time to make videos on each procedure. This can be done from your office at home or at work. All you need to do is prepare a brief outline on the topic and place your cell phone on a tripod and let the educating of your patients begin.
These videos can be used to grow your Youtube channel with valuable content that can be cross marketed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business, Mailchimp, or Constant Contact in a monthly newsletter.
How can you improve your process and procedures,
How can you help your staff become more effective at their jobs when they return or while they have this downtime
A Practice Assessment is vital because it can be the lifeblood for any practice. A Practice Assessment will help a practice to maintain its competitive advantage, improve staff tenure, help improve financial checks and balances as well as keeping you the owner(s) focused on the goal of maintaining financial health and profitability for your practice going forward.
If you determine after reading our brief recommendations that a Practice Review is in order, or you feel your Social Media program and website is not generating the correct amount of practice income to help take your practice to the next level Social Media Solutions for Doctors recommends a practice review.
Recognize that your staff is not the enemy. But you the owner could become your own worst enemy by not sharing your concerns about company profits with the team or utilizing some of these suggestions that allow you to set proper expectations and performance requirements
We hope these small reminders and tips help you navigate these momentous times. I'm offering a half-hour consultation for any practice that may need a practice audit or website review. My goals are to help you prepare for when the engine of prosperity picks up again.
Click Here: View Our Practice Development Videos https://www.youtube.com/feed/my_videos
Quintin L. Gunn Sr., is Chief Strategic Officer for Social Media Solutions for Doctors