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a blog by Chris Barrow

Thursday morning update - reality bites

On Financial Reality

This morning I have woken up to emails from clients, sharing letters they are issuing to their dental teams today to explain how life is going to pan out over the week ahead.

I'm not going to pull any punches - it makes for some grim reading.

Clearly, there are confidentiality issues that preclude me from sharing the details but, given that we are in this together, I think you can guess that the content includes explaining:

  • the ongoing running costs of the business (never a better time to know your OCPSPD - operating cost per surgery per day - and to share that with the team);

  • that your business interruption insurers have told you that you are not covered;

  • that your local council may have told you that the UK Government support for rates relief doesn't appear to extend to dental practices and (in the case of one example - "if you don't pay your rates on 1st April we will be instructing debt collectors") - nice;

  • what your monthly payroll costs are;

  • that your associates, therapists and hygienists are facing an immediate pay cut of 75-80%;

  • that you personally intend to stop taking any personal drawings from the business (or at best, strip your drawings back to MSD - minimum survival drawings);

  • the new working rota that will apply from Monday, offering up to 5 days a week of reduced surgery hours but, in some cases, as few as 2 days of restricted surgery hours per week - one of my clients is opening 09:00 to 13:00 each day from Monday with no hygienist or therapist - dentists only delivering treatment in line with clinical directives (if there are any);

Another client has emailed to say

"all staff been emailed a personal crisis budget planner and I have offered to help them fill it out"

That sounds like a very good idea to me. Great leadership.

There are two spreadsheets that have now become critically important for all of us:

  1. Your professional cash flow forecast

  2. Your personal and domestic cash flow forecast

I'm in a video meeting with a client at 10:00 this morning, working through the changes that will need to be made to his professional cash flow forecast based on the assumption that we are in a 12-week lockdown (I'm no expert so don't take my word for that - but I'll share that this is how I'm planning personally).

My expectation is that I'll be doing a lot of that over the next few days - accountants call it a "sensitivity analysis" - if the numbers change, what happens - we all need that now.

As you know, I've thrown The Extreme Business Academy doors open, free of charge, for the next three months - every resource is available and in there is The Money Course - over three hours of video tuition on how to measure and monitor your finances with numerous spreadsheets as free downloads, including those mentioned above.

The Money Course wasn't designed with Covid-19 in mind but it is a beginners (and non-accountants) guide to keeping accurate count and, given the time you have available, it might be time well spent.

If you register for the Covid-19 Business Confidence Forum at 19:00 tonight, you will automatically be enrolled as an Academy member and can access The Money Course for you and your team.

On tonight's Covid-19 Business Confidence Forum

I'll be honest with you and state here and now that I'm having a bit of a panic attack this morning as we have over 300 registered and rising.

Later this morning I'll be talking to the good folks who run our e-learning platform and webinar services at ClickLMS about how we are going to make sure we have enough bandwidth and server power to cope with such a potentially large audience.

Experience shows that not everyone who registers joins and, even if we have to restrict numbers, a full video and PDF transcript of the Forum will be made available within the next 48 hours - so nobody will miss out.

I've no doubt we will be discussing serious and scary stuff - but my wish is that The Forum will generate hope that this will pass and we will recover.

On Mental Health issues

My mother was sectioned twice when I was a child and so I have some understanding of and sympathy for those who suffer from mental health issues. I've also worked with clients over the years with similar challenges.

Again - I'm no expert but I do feel we have a responsibility to be aware that many people will find the current global crisis overwhelming.

Mental health affects owners, managers, freelance clinicians, team members, patients, family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues. In my lifetime it has never been more important to apply the 3-second rule and think before you act or speak.

I've withdrawn from some of the social media forums for Covid-19 dental discussion because I don't feel they are being moderated.

In normal times, one could argue "caveat emptor" - if you join a Forum, be prepared for bullying and if you don't like that just leave.

However, I'm reading some opinions and witnessing some behaviours that are unprofessional and simply unkind.

As Annie mentioned on this morning's dog walk "it's only a few weeks since Caroline Flack took her own life and we were sharing #benice on social."

Perhaps now is a good time to remind ourselves of that being unkind to individuals, even if they are in positions of authority, says more about the bully than it says about the victim.

How long will this last?

That's the #1 question I've had overnight - and I don't know the answer.

As stated, I'm planning for 12 weeks personally and volunteered my own pay cut with my clients yesterday, for that initial period.

Having watched the Boris briefings for the last few days, I feel more confident that the Government are playing this very well from a containment and flattening perspective. All we need now is for you and I, for the people we know and for the general population to listen, take note and follow instructions.

I am fortunate that I can survive for 12 weeks and even longer.

I'm working with people who are not so fortunate but I genuinely believe that, no matter how bad it gets, protection and support will emerge from Central Government.

We are back to Maslow, which is why I shared that graphic at the start of this post.

As if you didn't know already, I once spent 28 days on a Pacific island with 200 calories a day of food and no toilet rolls (!).

I know that we are wired for survival but that not everyone is a natural survivor.

No matter how hard this gets I do believe that all of us:

  • will have our basic physiological needs taken care of - nobody will starve;

  • will be safe - we still have a civilised society provided we are sensible and diligent;

  • can love each other - be a positive member of your community and genuinely care;

  • can show respect for each other and maintain our self-esteem - think before you speak;

  • and perhaps, in these troubled times, we can become the most that we can be - I am seeing leaders emerge around me - often people you would least expect - rising to the occasion and declaring "follow me - I've got this."

If you can - become a leader today.

See you on the webinar tonight - fingers crossed.

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