How to Manage Your Dental Practice, Team, Operations, & Marketing During COVID-19

healthcare digital marketing podcast episode with dr. haynes

Healthcare Digital Marketing Podcast

This episode of the Healthcare Digital Marketing Podcast covers the impact that COVID-19 is having on Dr. Haynes and his multi-location dental practice.

However, this is an episode for encouragement and excitement for other dentists as we discuss how Dr. Haynes of Modern Family Dental Care is staying engaged with his team during this time, what he is making more efficient in his practice, how he is being a leader with his team, how he is being optimistic during the chaos, what his current digital marketing game plan is, how he is staying engaged with his customers, how COVID-19 has impacted his practice at all locations, how he is keeping his practice safe while still offering emergency dental care, and what he is excited about after the Coronavirus pandemic.

Lamar Hull: Welcome Dr. Haynes. I do appreciate you, man. I appreciate you being the high standard that we need in the dental community. I appreciate you taking the time to really talk through the impacts of COVID-19, for your practice. As you know, we’re going to go through a few questions. I just want to really add value, based on what you’re facing, how you’re thinking, how you’re continually staying engaged with your team and your customers as you deal with COVID-19 like the rest of the world. So I thought this was a great opportunity to show your leadership cause you’re very awesome and you have a really great mindset. So I just want to really jump into a lot of these questions, but before we do that, I would love for you just to kind of introduce yourself and kind of give some background about yourself and your practice. 

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. Dr. Taj Haynes- Modern Family Dental Care is the name of the practice. We have three practices in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Concord.

Basically, I’m a resident from California. I have a mechanical engineering degree. I spent some time in the dotcom back with Poplar in the late nineties, I’ve lived all over the globe, Seattle New York, Spain, traveled to Europe, came back and went to dental school. And now here I am, managing and being a president of three dental practices.

Lamar Hull:  Nice. So you say you have a practice in North Lake, Concord and then also the university area?

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah, exactly.

Lamar Hull:  So real quick, engineering degree, how did you have that shift and switch from being an engineer to now a dentist? 

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. You know, I was always good at math and science. I liked it. So I heard about being an engineer, and I think I did some research about it “oh, you can make $40,000 a year”. My dad’s an engineer. Oh man, that sounds sweet coming from nothing, right? But I got it done, was an engineer and I loved it, but then I realized after kind of going through it, I don’t want to design door knobs for my life. And that’s when I got into business consulting, one on one with the larger big five consulting firms in the globe and did that for about five and a half years. I learned about communication skills, working with people, team building, teamwork, how to deliver, how to organize, and all those little soft skills that people talk about really learning in front of big Fortune 500 companies. That’s all problem solving, the whole world, that’s what engineering is. In dentistry, it made it help me problem solve every single day. 

Lamar Hull:  Right. That’s awesome, man. I know you’re in the midst of shifting and changing with the coronavirus taking full effect here in the U.S., so we’ll just open up to these questions. How has it impacted your current practice? 

How Has COVID-19 Affected Your Practice?

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. So initially, when it came out, we were maintaining. We were going to do emergency and necessary care. Well, what’s necessary to me? In my opinion, it’s making sure there’s no inflammation of the gums, right? That’s really important. So we’re gonna hold steady until when more guidance comes out. And of course it came out. So when that came out, then we actually really had to contract the schedule down. Yeah. So now hygiene was huge. So what do you do with your hygienist, right? I mean, everybody thinks because you have a dental practice, our company, you got that money in the bank and that’s not how it works. Now, it works similar to a personal bank account, right? You have expenses, you have money coming in and you’d hope to have a little bit of a gap. Now, it’d be really fortunate to have a big gap, but if you’re not fortunate, you’re going to have a minus gap because you got a credit card. Right. But we’ll do that. So yeah. So initially, we were holding strong, had to let go, not let go, furlough with all intents and purposes to bring them back so we can have a hygienist. 

Lamar Hull:  Yeah. 

Dr. Haynes: So eight hours a day, we were doing six to five with hygienists being as productive as possible. When they went away, then we condensed everything, all three offices into half days. Right. With the hope to do, again, with more guidance of what we can actually do with emergency care and moderate to severe, you know, cavities and other things. We focused on that. Well, with the other practices not being able to see the volume needed to support the salaries on payroll, right? We had to make a decision to close those offices, furlough those employees. And so now in a current week, we’re at Concord Mills, which is the flagship office. We have basically the two at the front desk; one insurance coordinator, that way we can still get the residual money coming in and pay bills; two assistants; and myself. So the whole purpose of that is that we will still generate income, take care of patients, provide that service and stand out because I know a lot of dental practices shut down. And that’s gonna be hard to start back up, right? So now we got a little, steady flow kind of happening and then once it can start back up, we’re going to go pedal to the metal. So that’s how that impacted us. 

Lamar Hull:  Yeah. So that’s awesome to hear. It sounds like you adjusted and you pivoted pretty quickly. You had to do what you had to do when you have three operating practices and you had to scale to one and you know, kind of relieve some of the employment, but the goal is to bring them back when things get back steady. So it’s good. And it sounds like you have a game plan, and that’s one thing I really liked to hear. 

Dr. Haynes:  Well, I’ll tell you, it’s funny because every Thursday we have weekly leadership meetings. What’s working well? What’s going good? How will we work on our action item list or what else my priorities are? What are some issues that I solve together as a leadership team? So what, three or four weeks ago, we had our Thursday meeting and like, man, this sounds good. We got a game plan. We’re gonna make it happen. Friday hit, news came out, forget about it. We gotta change back up. Following Thursday, same thing, feeling good. I’m feeling good. Change back up. And this past Thursday, we had our first quarterly meeting of the year, where we talked about all the things we want to achieve, what priorities for the first quarter are and then the next three quarter or three months issues, et cetera. We’ve focused on our game plan to transition back to full time, which we’re trying to estimate a date. We had everybody feeling good, great, meaning we’re doing it. Two hours later. I was just in on Friday. So last Friday, two hours later, here comes the governor, bam!  CDC, boom, boom. Hey, you know what, forget about it. We’ve got to do it.

Lamar Hull:  Yeah. And the thing is you had a game plan. But again, I think the big message or picture here is that you’re able to pivot, even though it’s not a favorable pivot, but you’re pivoting and adjusting to make sure that you’re already successful on the other side of this.

Dr. Haynes:  That’s the biggest thing, right? You don’t get lost in your thoughts because you could think too much. When you think, you’re not making decisions, right? Decisions, you’d be like that (*snaps fingers*). So you make a decision and you act, as long as you keep moving forward. That’s all I’m trying to do with people and myself, move forward with this. You’re headed towards something or your goal. 

Lamar Hull:  Right, right. No, that’s awesome, man. You know, to that point of being able to pivot, how have you pivoted in terms of making sure your current practices are safe when you do see patients, with the standards that COVID-19 is causing us to have?

Dealing With a New Strand of Virus In The Office

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. You know, it’s interesting because we deal with a lot of bacteria, viruses, and fungus every single day. So it’s nothing new to us. What is new is the fact that this is somewhat of a new strand of a virus that we knew about, and people have fear about it for whatever reason. 

So my personal standpoint, I’m not afraid of anything because I deal with everything. I had proper protection equipment. We sterilize like nobody’s business, Our disinfection procedures in the operatories are really, really good. Usually it’s one single patient, me, and an assistant, or a single patient and a hygienist. You know, there’s not people that are around in there.

So from that standpoint, it’s really, really safe. However, now you gotta take the recommendation seriously because of the fact that it’s those things that are being communicated for the masses. Right? And you don’t want to be someone who’s really trying to go against the grain. I say, no, I don’t need it because we’re already good. You know, you want to make sure that people are comforted, like coming to the practice, and also to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to help prevent the spread of the actual virus. Right? That’s the main thing. So I think we do them with them. 

Of course, we were asking, fever, sick at all please stay at home. Not sterilize your hands, but sanitize your hands when you first check in. You go to the operating room, the treatment room, which is sterilized as well. Now, of course there’s no hygiene. But when we do a hygiene, we actually got rid of all the aerosol, the PA’s bills, and everything else that was done by hand. Asking patients to rinse with a chlorhexidine rinse to help kind of kill the bacteria or anything kind of present in the mouth at that particular time. That helps. The blue aerosol that may be happening, it’s going to be more benign to the system. Right? That’s pretty much the main thing that we’re doing. Also, we started up front and at all the different common areas, door handles, the bathrooms, the doors to the outside, and anything we have that people can touch we were wiping down. Magazines and all. Just taking the precautions that make people feel and help have comfort coming into the practice, cause everybody’s so different with it. 

Lamar Hull:  Right, right. That’s awesome that you guys are doing that and it also sounds like you had a standard in place for very high cleanliness. And I feel like as we get out of this, what’s going to happen is still, the mindset is going to change with everyone in terms of how they interact and engage. It’s going to be like that for awhile. So I think you guys are putting the right measures in place to continue to make them feel comfortable. So that’s awesome. 

Dr. Haynes:  There’s no right in this, right. It’s just everybody, whatever they think is the best thing for them. They’re right. Right. I agree with that. Perfect. No problem. We’re gonna make sure we’re going to be as germ free as possible.  

Dealing With Uncertainty 

Lamar Hull:  It’s awesome. So I guess for you, how in your mindset have you developed certainty? Cause even in uncertain times as an individual who is, like you, you provide a lot of inspiration and motivation in the community. How do you, even when you’re down and you feel uncertain at times, how do you still tell yourself or provide that certainty in your mindset so that you can be ready for after COVID-19 is over. 

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. I kinda view it as a muscle. I mean, it’s not easy to get there, but, it’s what I have learned to do. For instance tomorrow, what’s gonna happen? Do you know what’s gonna happen tomorrow? 

Lamar Hull:  What’s that?

Dr. Haynes:  I’m asking you. What’s gonna happen to you tomorrow? Do you know? 

Lamar Hull: I have no idea. 

Dr. Haynes: You’re uncertain about it, right? Yeah. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen to me tomorrow. So I embraced that, right? Tomorrow’s going to bring a new freaking day, right? No matter how good or how bad our day. I hope it’s great. Right. However, I know that if whatever’s going to come our way, I’m not going to stop or quit and roll over and die. Right. That day will come when I do pass away. Yeah, but I’m going to keep on. So I embraced it. I breathe, embrace it. Certainly just knowing that no matter what comes my way that I can do good things, I can do great things and I will overcome because the only way I’m going to eventually fail is by quitting. Now I make mistakes and things don’t go my way. Outcomes are not the way I want them. Again, I just embrace it and I take responsibility for it. And so again, it just comes to the fact that you’re able to see the problem, right? You own it. You take responsibility for it. You don’t deny the reality of it all. Don’t make excuses, right? It’s not your fault. That’s not my fault it’s over here. Where else can you have the ownership of it all? Then you’re able to actually solve that problem when it comes your way and you just keep moving forward. Right. So I don’t think too much. I have my thinking time, of course. But I’m making decisions and I’m moving to make an action. It’s like a rhino. A rhino has straight-ahead vision. They move forward. They put their head down and they run at the target.

Lamar Hull:  They take ownership. 

Dr. Haynes:  I’m going to get that thing. It’s a rhino mentality. And that’s what I do. Like this whole COVID thing. And it sucks. 

Lamar Hull:  Yeah.

Dr. Haynes: It sucks. But what am I gonna do, cry about it?  I mean, I’m gonna fold? Don’t give up. Unfortunately, there’s gonna be a lot of dentists, a lot of business owners that got hit pretty hard, not only with a one two, but no, a three. And they’re gonna make the decision that they can’t go on. But that’s their choice. I’m not making a decision. I’m gonna keep on going. I got bigger things I’m trying to achieve. And then, until I get there, I’m going to keep on going, but when I get there, it’s going to happen. So that’s a big thing, that ownership, accountability, making sure I do it with discipline and everything else. I’m not gonna make excuses right now, I’m not gonna deny reality, I’m not gonna blame others. It’s that move forward.

Lamar Hull:  Yeah. And I think that shows, the next question was about your leadership capabilities and how you’re still developing that. But I think what you just said shows all of that, all the characteristics that a leader should have, especially in this time, is demonstrated through your care for your team care, for your mindset, the goals that you continue to set and how you have that rhino mentality of continuing to push forward, no matter the circumstances, because in this case we can’t control this. There’s nothing we can do besides the precaution measures of staying at home or keeping ourselves sanitized. You know, I think from a leadership standpoint, to run a business, you have to have that mindset of what you’re talking about. I think a subset of that is, really from a leadership standpoint, how do you stay engaged with your team? And then the second part of that question is, how do you stay engaged with your customers? Because at this time, we’re a little disconnected. So how do you stay in front and engage with those two different types?

Dr. Haynes:  With my team, like you said, it’s all about attitude. I gotta stay positive. I’ve got an outlook. I got to provide the words of encouragement, provide the words of vision. And today I say, no, I got this, this sucks. We’re going through this, but I have no doubt in my mind that when we come out the other side, we’re going to be around. We’re going to be a big game but better. They need to hear that, the comments, my voice, the attitude. Now I forget what the saying is, but it’s like “a leader who is a lion, a leader of sheep who’s a lion will actually be the lion’s head by a sheep” or something like that, right? Because you take on the passion or the energy from the leader: a lion, a rhino. If I’m a sheep, I’m folding and what’s everybody else going to do?

Lamar Hull:  Right.

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. So, that’s the main thing that I try to convey to my patients, also my team. Now with a team, I was doing weekly videos that I’d send. I’d tell them, hey, here’s a plan for what is going on. Here’s the info, more information coming down. Here’s what you can believe. Here’s what you got to kind of fill out for it. But this was back before, actually this past Monday where I had to furlough people. When people are furloughed, you can’t communicate work stuff. Legalities, right? And that’s work. So now, because it’s a smaller office, we just have our daily little huddles and what we talked about, and then with some positive things we’re actually doing for ourselves to move forward. Right. So, encouraging stuff. And then when it comes to patients, one thing I try to do is just stay out there on social media, I’m big on Instagram.

Lamar Hull:  Oh, you’re killing it.

Dr. Haynes:  I’m big on Instagram because that’s where I feel people go to, to kind of do the recon research on you and say, who is this guy? What’s the dental practice about? Little videos, hey, we’re still open, here’s what we’re doing, photographs of us. That’s probably the big, big thing. 

Obviously, or obviously not because I think a lot of people don’t do it, but you know that we have a pretty strong, robust email program. Always in front of patients. 

Then also what we’re doing, too, is that we’re going an extra step. We’re actually generating a list for an office person, 10 to 15 people per day. Maybe we’ve seen them before, then we have a special connection with them, but all we’re doing is simply making a phone call and saying, “Hey you know, Ethel, just calling, this is Taj Haynes at the Modern Family Dental Care. I know things are kind of rough. I’m just reaching out to see how you’re coping with everything.” “Oh yeah. My family is great”. “Okay, that’s all I’m calling for, when times get a little better, we’re here for you, but please take care of yourself. Be well.”

Lamar Hull:  Yeah.

Dr. Haynes: Just a little outreach. It’s all we’re trying to do. And so we’re doing things a little different, and the one thing we’re going to do when this is all over is we’re gonna actually do a grand reopening

Lamar Hull:  Nice. That is genius.

Dr. Haynes:  Yeah. So, yeah. So we’re going to run some different, special kind of brands from that. There’s Invisalign, cosmetic stuff, implant stuff, restorative, whatever it may be, because hopefully now people will be more awakened or woke or whatever the word may be to the portraits of an immune system.

Lamar Hull: Yup. 

Dr. Haynes: And the immune system can be changed so quickly. They did the right things. And one of the things that they really need to do is to make sure that there’s no inflammation in the body. Of course, there’s diets, exercise, but there’s also the component of the dentistry, right? The mouth, right? The number one source of inflammation are the gums. So we’ll definitely focus on that, once we turn a corner here.

Lamar Hull: That gave me the chills because that’s a whole other marketing strategy of that grand opening. It’s a different mindset perspective when things are back to normal. Like, who is this? You know, that’s really,  creating a different standard for dentistry and you’re already thinking ahead. That’s what I love about working with you guys, is thinking ahead, whether it’s two or three or four months down the road, You’re thinking about how you can engage with customers when they’re ready. And I think that’s, that’s so powerful, man.


For more from our chat with Dr. Haynes of Modern Family Dental Care, check out our podcast. For additional information or help with online healthcare marketing for your medical or dental practice, contact our experienced, professional team at Med Rank Interactive. Schedule a consultation and let us help grow your business.