How to lead a Covid soft landing

dental practice covid advice

How to lead a Covid soft landing

You may have noticed that people are starting to think about what they will learn and take with them from the current Covid period.  Who knows what it will be, it’s all speculation right now, although my guess is that there will be plenty of positives.

I was reluctant to talk about the opportunities that will come from Covid at first, for fear of blurring all opportunities with making money. This is healthcare after all, and more than ever, Covid has highlighted that financial success comes as a result of doing things right. There has never been a good time to chase the money, Covid will have reinforced that. Some have tried to monetise it and they will be remembered. Some have just done the right thing, and they will be remembered too.

It’s also worth remembering what the market was like before we went into lockdown, because to forget will surely create even bigger problems when we do get back to some kind of normal. Remember that there was little public sympathy for dentists and what I refer to as ‘The Daily Mail effect’. Think of any dental or dentist related headline and if the resulting spin from the tabloids reinforces a pre-existing negative narrative about dentistry or dentists, then there is still leadership work to do, leadership that the profession has recognised is unlikely to come from the CDO.

During Covid, has anything really changed yet? The public (and ostensibly the CDO) just don’t seem to grasp the idea that the delivery of NHS dentistry is in essence supported and partially underwritten by private dentistry. The larger NHS is now more than ever a national treasure and those three letters will create a frenzied expectation from the public, an expectation that the presence of your UDA contract will require you to match, even though the business model is completely different and misunderstood. This same misunderstanding will do nothing to reduce the scepticism that the public have about private treatment options and private dentistry.

Internally, before Covid and not that long ago, we also had plenty of problems with our teams and our associates. Owner lead dental practices created plenty of places to hide, and when everybody was just busy being busy, who knew that there were massive inefficiencies, just out of the line of sight of the busy principal, so busy looking into mouths, that he never had time to look up and adjust his viewpoint.

So what will you be taking with you other than the memories and perhaps a fondness or otherwise for Zoom meetings?

Strong leaders have learned that by slowing things down, they get more done. This will be a key leadership message to create a soft Covid landing rather than a crash. Speaking with clients and exploring the soft landing that some will lead, here are a few key ideas that will help you shape your leadership and direction;

  • Don’t try and play financial catchup. Patients will sense if you are doing so and ironically this will force down your average daily income.
  • Prioritise certain patient groups. Allow health and vulnerability to guide which of your patients get seen first. Don’t allow money and the size of the treatment plan to get in the way of caring for everybody that has been loyal to you.
  • Make appointments longer. It seems counter intuitive but it may have been a larger than normal gap since patients last saw you. Allow more time to listen and to be with them. Be brave. Remember that you learned the importance of slowing things down with friends and family, it will be just the same with your patients. This will increase your average daily income.
  • Give your team simple and regular direction. This will allow them to feel safe, they will want to get back to normal but they might need a while to work out what normal is. Help them along by providing clear instructions and setting expectations.
  • What do your patients know? Particularly for elective treatments, you need to understand their world more than ever and before you dive in to talk about treatment options. They have had the time to do all the research that they need to make a decision. You must find out what they know, their level of motivation and potentially their budget too.


As a dentist, as a leader and as a profession via the BAPD, you have recognised the leadership gap in dentistry. Take your time to land again carefully.

We’re going to expand this conversation on Thursday 16th April at 2pm and you can join us by registering here; 

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