man sitting at a desk with a laptop, writing on in a ledger.

The COVID-19 pandemic marks an unquestionably tough time for everybody around the globe. What makes it uniquely tough is the element of uncertainty.

Nonetheless, we can find several iconic quotes that talk about the potential fringe benefits of a crisis. For instance, Albert Einstein said, “in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.”

What is also unique about the current crisis, is that we are “globally” required to stay put for the “benefit of all.” This is quite exceptional, since it almost sounds counterintuitive. But it is not.

Staying put allows us to consider where we are now and where we want to be. Now is the ideal time for dental professionals to think about what they want to accomplish, to rediscover and redesign their strategies.

For a dental team to consistently love the practice and drive the positive patient experience that leads to increased business, there needs to be a common understanding of what is done and why it's done. That's why a mission statement and a vision statement are so essential.

COVID-19 RESOURCES: We've created a new Spear Online resource page with practice management and clinical tools to navigate the COVID-19 crisis, so your team has the latest information to mitigate the financial impact and prepare to treat patients once operations return to normal.

To me, this crisis is like a checkpoint. And while we do not know exactly when this crisis will be over, we do know that it will end — and when it is over, we need to be ready to execute and recover the lost time and practice revenues.

Steady execution in dental practices

We all want to run a successful business and can read a ton of books on the subject. We can think of strategies that may take us there, but the reality is that for a practice to function, we need to execute steadily.

Sam Altman, a world-class entrepreneur and CEO of the San Francisco-based OpenAI research laboratory, said that the secret of having a successful startup is to build a product or a company that is so good that people will run to tell their friends about it. He estimated that this simple task accounts for 80% of a startup's success.

Well, the reality is that this “simple task” does not seem to be that simple. For a customer to tell their friends about a place or a product requires a very clear communication strategy.

Why should it be any different for a dental practice to be successful? A lot of things need to happen for patients to go out of their way and talk about it with their friends. One of the things I can tell you is essential for this to happen is for patients to talk about the awesome experience they had at a specific practice.

What makes the experience so special? Well, I hope you realize that the experience goes beyond having a “nice place” and that a “specific” dental procedure goes beyond the technology a patient sees. It goes beyond the doctor's knowledge or demeanor.

It even goes beyond a beautiful esthetic result. It must be a mixture of these elements.

Consistency is essential in time of crisis

Altman also said that consistency is essential for any business to be successful. The experience can only be curated by the whole team, through the patient's interactions with the team.

Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek said that “customers will never love a company, until employees love it first.” As obvious as that may sound, proud teams are happy teams. They ultimately become productive teams. This is an integral part of the formula for a successful practice.

Refining your practice's mission and vision statements give every member of the team a shared understanding. Whatever your patient tells their friends and potential new patients about your practice, needs to be clear and exciting, something that can only be felt through the cohesive nature of a solid team.

Interestingly, a few months ago, my practice went through some organizational changes and we needed to redefine our mission and our vision. I had felt there was a little disconnection between my role as Spear faculty, my lecturing abroad and my role as our office's clinical director.

It was clear to me that the only way things could work sustainably is if I could demonstrate solid synergy between my roles in respect to the practice team.

The connection is quite simple. At Spear, I teach the clinical concepts that our team executes every day, and our team performs the clinical standards that we teach at Spear. As leaders, we must practice what we preach.

Rewriting your mission and vision statements

Being an educator in the dental profession for all these years, I needed to be an educator to my team, but also to train the team to become educators, so they in turn become educators for our patient community.

When we had to redefine our mission statement, we came up with it as a team. It's not just a bunch of nice-sounding words that management felt like imposing on the group.

The updated mission statement is powerful:

“We improve our patients' quality of life through education, prevention and the best quality of dental treatment we can provide.”

Once we articulated our mission statement, it became a daily assignment for everyone to execute. Only then could we possibly establish the consistency needed to get us closer to our vision statement, which states the future objectives of your organization. It is intended as a guide to help you make decisions that align with your philosophy and declared set of goals.

So, that is how we came up with our vision statement:

“To become the most reputable dental clinic of our region.”

In closing, and now with all this time in your hands, I would urge you all to consider reaching out to your teams — to rethink, rediscover and rewrite your mission and vision statements so they truly reflect what you believe in.

Ricardo Mitrani, D.D.S., M.S.D., is a member of Spear Resident Faculty.