7 ways dentists can maximize downtime

May 29, 2020

Even under the best circumstances, marketing plans get shelved. This lull is a great time to dust off those plans and put them to work.

Under normal circumstances, with operatories full of patients and a practice full of team members, dental practice marketing gets pushed to the back burner. But with offices across the country working on a limited basis or at partial capacity, many dental professionals wonder what to do with the unexpected extra time.


The silver lining: Most dentists have never had such an extended period to focus on on their practice undistracted by constant tasks. To make the most of this time, pull out your years-old to-do list and start there. Need more inspiration? Consider these seven action items.

Reach Out to Patients

Many people are feeling extra anxious during these uncertain times. Take this opportunity to help put your patients at ease and be a source of information. Send an email or post updates on your social media feeds with links from trusted sources. Describe the extra steps you’re taking to maintain social distancing in your office and the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) team members are using. Explain how you’re doubling down on your already strict infection control procedures to keep everyone safe. Underscore the importance of maintaining optimal oral health at this time and build even more value for the care that your team provides. The possibilities for positive messages are endless; the main goal is to reassure your patient base and encourage them to come in for hygiene recall and dental procedures.

Enhance the Environment

If you’ve been wanting to make some cosmetic improvements to the office, dive in. Whether that involves a full redesign, new reception area furniture, a fresh coat of paint or a Marie Kondo approach to organization, you will likely never have more time and energy than right now. Even if cash flow is limited, lining up vendors and finalizing plans will make it easier to move forward when you’re ready.

Upgrade Technology

Improving business technology infrastructure is difficult to do around back-to-back appointments, so now might be an ideal time to think about how to bring your practice into the 2020s. Whether you’re ready to update your website, switch to a cloud-based practice management software, finally go paperless, upgrade to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system, or implement teledentistry services, take the time to contact vendors and conduct the necessary research to make the best decision for your practice’s future.

Develop Employee Resources and Capabilities

Give your practice management consultant a call and brush up on communication skills at the front desk. Have team members take online continuing education courses. Update patient forms or, better yet, digitize your patient intake and health history processes. Review your infection control and privacy law procedures to be sure you and your team are following current protocols. Review your employee handbook if you have haven’t done so in a while-and if you don’t have one, develop one.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

Many people staying home are cleaning and organizing closets and pantries, so why not do the same at the practice? Head into the office and go through your inventory. Safely discard any expired products, organize instruments, implement a color-coding system, and donate extra PPE to local health care facilities.

Conduct a Marketing Audit

Many components go into dental practice marketing, including name and logo, interior and exterior signage, patient forms, and even on-hold music, as well as all online properties-website, social media listings, and review sites. Conduct a comprehensive marketing audit to make sure everything is up to date and consistent across all online and offline materials. Reach out to your graphic designer for a logo update, and contact your website designer to ensure your online presence is up to date and HTTPS compliant.

Create Educational Videos

Video offers a powerful way to boost trust, traffic, and engagement online. With a smartphone in the palm of your hand, you can create web-quality patient videos. The hardest part can be brainstorming topics; it’s helpful to keep the patient in mind when considering content. Answer frequently asked questions. Shoot videos that explain your services. Describe care instructions for before and after the most common procedures. Explain the patient benefits of your latest and greatest technology. Talk about your practice’s robust infection control procedures. Find a spot with good lighting and a decent backdrop and get started. Don’t forget to upload the finished products to your website and share them via social media. 

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