The many business issues posed by COVID-19 are challenging. It is unfamiliar territory for all of us, and the response and path to recovery for businesses seem to create more questions than answers. The key to developing a post-COVID-19 financial plan is to take quick action now to sustain your practice through recovery and an eventual return to prosperity. Here are some strategies and tactics to help your practice make financial progress:
1. Reduce your costs and overhead.
Start by making a list of all your financial obligations. Try to reduce recurring costs (like unused subscriptions). Negotiate rent relief with your landlord. Renegotiate with your suppliers to reduce payments or arrange longer payment terms. At the same time, review your own household expenses to see what you can trim. The less money you need to draw from your practice, the more cash you will have to invest in recovery.
2. Put all of your assets to work.
Itemize assets to either deplete or reduce the amount on hand. For example, if you have held excess inventory to take advantage of bulk discounts, evaluate if “just-in-time” inventory might offer strategic and tactical advantages. Think about the opportunity to sell anything you no longer need. If you own property or equipment that is needed, consider selling the asset to free up capital and then lease it back for an immediate injection of cash.
3. Communicate with patients.
It’s important to let your patients know how your practice is coping with COVID-19-related operating restrictions. When communicating with patients, reinforce that your first priority is to keep your patients and team members safe. Let your patients know about available teledentistry services and clearly describe the precautions your practice is taking to facilitate in-person appointments. Proactively rebook canceled appointments to help get patients back in the chair.
4. Update your SWOT analysis.
Even without a fully formed business plan, now is the time to pay attention to the most critical questions:
- Strengths: In what areas does your practice excel?
- Weaknesses: What areas could be improved or eliminated?
- Opportunities: What new products, services, customers, technology or trends could enhance the way your practice operates?
- Threats: What events are outside your control? Can you minimize them somehow?
From your answers, identify new areas to pursue and develop a plan to minimize threats (over and above the pandemic).
5. Seek wider insight.
In challenging times, we can all benefit from outside help. Identify who you can call on to gain advice about future strategies. Some sources include:
- Obtaining advice from your trusted team of advisors, including your lawyer, accountant and banker.
- Speaking to other practice owners.
- Making sure you are regularly getting up-to-date information on your industry, products and technology, and particularly, on what competitors are doing.
If the current crisis has taught us anything, it’s the necessity of having cash reserves to outlast a dramatic drop in business. There are brighter days ahead. Focus on restoring cash flow, reach out to people you trust for their input and advice and stay on top of evolving information — and you’ll be well-positioned to enjoy an upswing.
About the author
A commercial banker since 2006 with BMO Harris Bank, which is endorsed by ADA Member Advantage for practice financing, Ms. Olmstead Lopez advises mid- to large-size practices, leveraging her background in commercial credit underwriting and structuring and providing industry-specific expertise and local market insight to add value, foster long-lasting relationships and — above all — helping dentists realize their vision for growth. Contact her at bmoharris.com/dentists.
The opinions, estimates and projections, if any, contained in this article are those of the author. BMO Harris Bank endeavors to ensure that the contents have been compiled or derived from sources that it believes to be reliable and which it believes contain information and opinions which are accurate and complete. However, the author and BMO Harris Bank take no responsibility for any errors or omissions and accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss (whether direct or consequential) arising from any use of or reliance on these articles or their contents. This article is for informational purposes only.