Leading Through a Natural Disaster


From weathering a hurricane to surviving a global epidemic; Josey Sewell (VP of Education, Dental Intelligence) brings some serious wisdom on how to communicate with your team through a crisis and bounce back on the other side. 

In September of 2018 Hurricane Florence pounded against the east coast with 150 mph winds that uprooted trees and tore out electrical lines. Record setting rainfall brought widespread flooding throughout the Carolinas. As the Director of Operations for a large DSO, Josey Sewell needed to make critical gametime decisions to preserve the financial security and emotional wellbeing of her team and come out strong on the other side. Her tactics apply just as easily to this Coronavirus outbreak.

“One of the most important things right now is having that regular cadence of communication with your team.”

While Josey’s team was going through Hurricane Florence, it became crucial that they all stayed in contact with each other. People are scared, not only for their financial well being, but also for their physical wellbeing and the lives of those they care about. 


Whether it’s daily or weekly, your team needs to stay in contact with one another. Make it a habit to keep in touch virtually, either by department or as an entire team. Your staff is used to having their morning huddles, and maintaining that familiarity will help keep your team emotionally stable.


In addition to group check-ins, one-on-one conversations are also critical to preserving your team’s mental health. Whether it’s from you directly or flowing down from your leadership team, just having someone checking in to ask, “how are you doing?” is everything.


Times are hard, but we can’t sugar coat it. Team members will look towards you to tell them how to feel about this. That means a combination of being confident that we can get through this, but being realistic that if we reach a certain point “x, y, z” are likely to start happening.


If you find yourself facing the worst case scenario and find yourself laying-off team members, the most important thing is to maintain loving kindness. Go out of your way to provide them the necessary resources for receiving unemployment or helping open a door for work elsewhere. You are a guide despite all that is happening, and your staff will remember your kindness.

“We’re now playing a totally different game. We still have our cards: our talents, our skills... but the game is different”

Now is the time when your staff has the opportunity to step up to the plate and offer value in ways they haven’t before. It’s by rallying together, and by intentionally prepping for your reopening that teams rebound from something like this.

Tiger Teams

One of my favorite terms Josey used in her LIVE was this concept of Tiger Teams. You, as the business owner, can’t do it all, and if you leave it all in your hands you will find yourself in trouble. Identify within your practice those groups of people that can take a problem off your shoulders, own it, and get after it. Give them all the authority and responsibility to do so, and watch as your team steps-up to the plate.

Problem Solving

Once you have your Tiger Teams, make a list of problems you need to solve and delegate them out. Whether it’s receiving grants, dealing with your vendors, or coming up with a game plan for filling-up hygiene upon your reopening. Even if they are normally outside your team’s wheelhouse, now is the time for “all hands on deck”.

PRO TIP: If you’re looking for an easy way to fill your hygiene appointments when you reopen, using a tool like Dental Intelligence’s Patient Finder* can create a list of potential patients looking to use their unused insurance benefits after the quarantine has lifted. This can give the solid boost you're looking for to your hygiene schedule.

* Dental Intelligence is offering their services with no financial obligation during this time for those that need it. You can find out more at dentalIntel.com/slingshot

“COVID is a Black Swan... There will be more Black Swans in our life, it may not be a virus.”

Many of us were blindsided by this outbreak, but when the dust settles we have the opportunity to come out of this stronger. If you are able to move past your present fears and uncertainty, you can identify areas of improvement for your overall entrepreneurial health in the future. 

Cut unnecessary expenses for good, look for ways to better prepare for the next situation like this, and take notice of those team members that stepped up to the plate and helped you get through this struggle. Your company will come out of this stronger, and so will you.

“We have the opportunity to write the story and not let the story be written for us.” 


The dental practice landscape is changing at an ever faster rate. Protect your investment by putting together a strategic marketing plan customized to you. Schedule your consultation with me.

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