How to Reduce Same Day Dental Appointment Cancellations and No Shows

How to Reduce Same Day Dental Appointment Cancellations and No Shows

Hello Friends,

I have been getting many requests for help from dental office team members complaining that their schedules will often fall apart at the last minute. If this ever happens to you I know how frustrating that can be. Not to mention, it kills production.

In this article, you will find several ways to greatly reduce last-minute schedule changes. I can assure that if you follow each step, you will stress less, make more money, help more patients, and have more fun.  Please print it out and share with everyone on the team. We need everyone following the same protocol/system in order for you to be successful.  Consider reviewing this at your next huddle or team meeting.

Note: If you need a quick-fix for holes in the schedule – check out these ideas: Tips and Ideas to Fill Holes In Dental Hygiene Schedules, However, they are just that, a quick fix. Follow the ideas in this article to prevent them from happening at all.

Dental Office Systems for Reducing Cancellations from Betty Hayden Consulting

Reduce last minute cancellations and no shows by following this protocol/system:

Consistently Be Great! – Do everything to ensure that each and every patient has a great experience during their appointments.  Give them something good to talk about and reason to keep coming back!

STOP moving appts around! A sure-fire way to aggravate patients, cause them to disrespect your time and the schedule, or for them to think you don’t know what you’re doing is by moving their appointment times. Unless, of course, they have asked to be on your Priority List.  Calling patients to come in early, come in late, or come in on a different day is annoying and I promise you it is hurting your schedule and production. I can’t emphasize this enough –  Respect their time and they’ll respect yours.

Appointment Reminder Systems – Ensure that you have an effective interval set up to remind patients of their appointments and that your message is helping not hurting the practice. For example, NEVER say “Calling to confirm” – it should be “We’re looking forward to seeing you on ____ at ____. OR ____ is looking forward to seeing you…”

 Unconfirmed Appointments – If it is 1 day before the appointment and a patient or patients haven’t responded to your appointment reminder system, it is imperative that you pick up the phone and call the patient(s).  You shouldn’t be able to look at the day’s schedule during your morning huddle and see unconfirmed appts.

Cancels – Using the word cancel or cancellation sends a poor message to your patients. It tells them that cancellations happen and are expected. We don’t want that. You can say ”this doesn’t happen very often but if for some reason you need to change your reservation with ___, we ask that you please provide us with at least 48 hours notice.”

Stay on Time – See your patients at their appointment time. Avoid running behind schedule. (Tip: Make sure you are allowing enough time on the schedule for each procedure/appt type.)

New Patients – Every new patient needs a call preferably from the provider 2 days prior to their appt. “Hello, this is ___. I was calling to let you know that I am looking forward to meeting you in person for your reservation on ___ at ___. See you then.”

Please don’t rely on an automated service to welcome your new patients.

Bad History – If a patient has a history of not showing or canceling last minute, please don’t schedule any future appointments for them. However, if you find there are some patients on the schedule with that history…call them at least 2 days in advance of appt. “Hello, this is ____ from ____. I am calling regarding your appointment on ____ at _____. I need you to please return my call by____ at ____. If I don’t hear back from you by that time we will assume you’ve changed your mind and will cancel your reservation.”

Treatment Plans and Financial Arrangements – Every patient that has an appt. scheduled with the doctor for treatment must have a copy of their treatment plan AND a financial agreement before the appt. Ideally, each patient should receive a copy of the treatment plan and a financial agreement at the time of diagnosis. DON’T ASSUME that the patient is OK with their financial responsibility simply because you gave them a copy of their treatment plan and they didn’t question the cost.  What often happens is they say OK and schedule and then will no-show or cancel at the last minute. OR they come in for the appt. not prepared to pay their portion.

Regarding their financial responsibility – put their co-payment amount in the appt notes so that you remember to remind them to bring it in w/them.

Many patients will not tell you they can’t afford the treatment. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO SAY YES by HELPING THEM FIND A WAY TO WORK IT INTO THEIR BUDGET. The total investment is ____ and we can do it for as little as ___ per month using our partner Care Credit. Have them apply for CC while they are there in the office.

Hygiene Patients – Schedule their next 3, 4, 6-month appt when they are at the office. Take a second to stress to them how important this appointment is and what you’ll be looking for at their next appt. (It’s not just a cleaning.)

VALUE – Walk-Out Statement – Consider itemizing the hygiene appt walk out statement to include the no charge services… ie: Oral Cancer Screening, Nutrition Counseling, Oral Hygiene Instructions, Etc.  Be sure to ALWAYS give the full fee for that day even if they have “100 %” coverage with their insurance. They need to hear the actual dollar amount for each visit. Helps to put more value on the appt.

No-Shows / Late Arrivals – Always acknowledge your no-show/late patients with a call 3-5 minutes past appt. time.  If you get a voice mail – let the patient know you’re concerned because they missed their reservation.  If the patient doesn’t reschedule, send them a kind letter reminding them they were missed and what your office appointment guidelines are for changing appts.  The assistant or hygienist should be making these calls 3 – 5 minutes past appt time. If they can’t make the call right away they are responsible for having someone from the front office make the call for them. Be sure to document the action/ response.

Telephone – The dreaded telephone calls for same-day cancellation attempts from your patients. They can destroy a perfect schedule in a matter of minutes. Stay in control of your schedules by using the following verbiage…

Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 10:00, it’s just for a cleaning.

Admin: (with genuine concern) “Oh no! I hope everything is alright. Jenny was really looking forward to seeing you today for your appointment. Is there any way you can keep your reservation?” or

“Oh no! Thank you for calling, I know Jenny will be concerned, is there anything we can do so that you can be here today?”

or, if you have a broken appointment policy…

Admin: “Oh no! I’d hate for you to have to pay the broken appointment fee, is there any way you can make your reservation with Jenny?”

Now, if the patient is sorry and truly can’t make the appointment and this is the first time they’ve canceled an appointment, say this:

Admin: “I know that Jenny was looking forward to seeing you, I’m sorry that you weren’t able to provide us with 48 hrs advance notice due to (whatever their reason was) – we’ll go ahead and waive the broken appointment fee this time. Let’s get you rescheduled…”

Or if you don’t have a broken appt. policy, say this:

Admin: “We obviously made an appointment for you that isn’t convenient. Since your appointments are important, I want to make sure we never do that again. Is there a time we can schedule that you know will work better with your schedule?”

Document your conversation and that you waived the fee for this time and that the patient is aware next time they’ll be charged.

If the patient refuses to reschedule their appointment…

Admin: “That’s fine, but if I don’t hear back from you, I will call you on ______, how does that sound?” (Follow through on that promise.)

For patients that habitually cancel, I urge you to charge them your broken appointment fee and do not reschedule their appointment.

Admin:  “Mr/Ms (use their name), I can see that you have a really busy schedule and that makes it difficult for you to commit to an appointment time. I thought I was a busy person! What I recommend is that we place you on our “same day” call list. If we have an unexpected change in our schedule, we’ll give you a call. How does that sound?”

Document your conversation! Follow-up accordingly.

Whatever you do and no matter how desperate you are to fill the schedule DO NOT REAPPOINT habitual offenders! You should never be able to look at the schedule and point out who will most likely cancel or no-show.

I’m sure that’s never happened in your office, right? 😉

Work together as a team to come up with scripting that works for your office. Think of all the different scenarios and reasons patients call to cancel (cost, illness, work, no babysitter, schedule conflicts, etc.) and role-play the best responses. Your goal should be, if appropriate, respectfully help the patient find a way to keep the appointment as scheduled without threatening or embarrassing them.

Sending you wishes for a full and productive schedule… one that doesn’t fall apart!

I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK.

Don’t miss out on any of the ideas that I share each month! Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please start following us today.  If you prefer, send me your email address at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.

Yours for Greater Success,

Betty – Dental Coach

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Dental Office Marketing and Practice Management Tips and Ideas for February

Dental Office Marketing and Practice Management Tips and Ideas for February

Hello Friends,

Hope you all are having a fantastic start to 2019!

As always, my wish is for you to have the best months ever, all year-long!

To help you do just that, I’m sharing some Marketing and Practice Management tips & ideas that you can use during the month of February.

Dental Marketing and Practice Management Tips and Ideas for February

(Note: If you’re looking for ideas to promote February’s Children’s Dental Health Month and Give Kids A Smile Day please look to this post: Children’s Dental Health Month & GKAS Day)

February is American Heart Month so Our focus this month is Heart Health.

Heart Health Talking Points:
Dental Health and Heart Disease Are Related -Dental health and heart disease are intricately linked and the cost for avoiding advanced periodontal disease or even something as mild as gingivitis may very well prove to be the cause of serious medical problems in the future.
Be good to your heart beginning with good oral health.

Special Days:
Women’s Heart Week: 1-7 – Focus this week on Women’s Heart Health. Have a special gift for your female patients. Hand out heart-healthy tips for your patients to share w/their friends and family.

Tip: If you’re not currently taking your patients’ blood pressure at their appointments… make it a goal to start during the month of February.
Many people see their dentist more regularly than a physician and could get an early warning about high blood pressure when getting their teeth cleaned or having other dental treatment done.

Have fun with this heart theme!

Here are 3 More Ways To Help Your Team and Patients Smile in February!

Pet Dental Health Month – Share pet dental health tips on your social media sites, ask people to share pictures of their pets on social media, hand out dog treats packaged with your office information. Even if the patient doesn’t have a dog surely they know someone who does…great way to get your office name out there!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: 25-3/3 Educational Opportunity – share on your blog and on your social media pages the impact eating disorders have on your oral health.

International Boost Self-Esteem Month –
For your team: Negative people are the greatest destroyers of self-confidence and self-esteem. Avoid office negativity, it’s toxic and will infect your team – Rather, focus on and share positive experiences. See: How to Have a Happier Team

For your patients: A beautiful & healthy smile can boost one’s self-esteem and confidence.

Social Media Post Ideas to Improve Engagement:
Bubble Gum Day: 1st
Super Bowl: 3rd
Toothache Day: 9th
National Drink Wine Day: 18th
Through with The Chew: 17th – 23rd
National Tooth Fairy Day: 28th

Message me please to tell me what you have planned to make the month of February special for your patients and the community.

I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK.

Don’t miss out on any of the ideas that I share each month! Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please start following us today. If you prefer, send me your email address at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.

Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty (AKA Dental Coach)

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on  FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Pinterest

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Dental Team Building Activities, Rewards, and Incentive Tips and Ideas

Dental Team Building Activities, Rewards, and Incentive Tips and Ideas

Hello Friends,

In response to the many requests that I receive for ideas to motivate and reward employees,  I’ve compiled a list of Team Building Activities, Incentives, and Reward Tips and Ideas. I have also included several team building and customer service book suggestions.

For ideas and tips on how to have a happier and more productive dental team, please visit here: A Happy Dental Team is not just a dream!

Of course, in order to have a truly happy and productive team, it starts with you!

Set the Example – Lead by example.  Treat your employees how you would like them to treat your best patient! If you want to see positive change in your practice, you must consistently lead by example. It starts at the top. You set the tone for the day, make certain that it’s a happy & productive one.

Work Hard, Have Fun, Create Beautiful Smiles.

dental team building activities rewards incentives book suggestions tips and ideas

Have FUN! – Have more fun in your office with Team Building Activities and Events!

Here are some ideas to get you started…

In Office Fun: Potluck lunch, Ice Cream Truck, Carry out lunch (team choice), Crafts, Games, & Puzzles. Make little gifts that you can give out to your patients at their appointments.

These articles have some really good ideas for team building activities: Six Quick Teamwork Games to Engage Employees at Work and this one: When I work – Team Building Games

Fun with Social Media – Utilize your social media pages to show your patients and potential patients what a fun office you have.

Videos – post fun team videos on your office social media pages.

Employee Work Anniversaries – Celebrate employee work anniversaries and post pictures to your social media pages.

Pictures – take fun/silly pictures with the team and your patients to share on social media, your website, and in newsletters.

Fun Dress Up/Theme Days –

What: Decorate the office, team dresses up, small prize giveaways and snacks.

Theme Ideas: Luau, Decades, Superhero, Disney, Western, Carnival, Sports teams, Pajama Day, Silly hats/hair/socks, Etc. (visit party & dollar stores or orientaltrading.com for a ton of theme ideas)

Creativity – Brainstorm sessions with prizes for marketing ideas, solutions to improve office efficiency, and how to have more fun as a team.

Accountability – “Great teammates hold each other accountable to the high standards and excellence their culture expects and demands.” – Jon Gordon

Book Club – Purchase team building/self-improvement books for your team. During a team meeting, discuss portions of the book. Or purchase electronic devices such as a Kindle Fire for each employee and download books that can be discussed during a “book club team meeting”.

Team Building Book Suggestions:

Bring Your Whole Self to Work: How Vulnerability Unlocks Creativity, Connection, and Performance – Mike Robbins

Move Your Bus – Ron Clark

FISH! – Stephen C. Lundin and Harry Paul

Fun Is Good – Mike Veeck & Pete Williams

The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon (Actually, ALL books by Jon Gordon!)

Our Iceberg is Melting –  John Kotter

Who Moved my Cheese? – Spencer Johnson, MD

Everything is Marketing – Fred Joyal

The Go-Giver –  Bob Burg and John David Mann

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Full Steam Ahead – Ken Blanchard

Million Dollar Dentistry – Gary Kadi

Be Our Guest –  The Disney Institute and Theodore Kinni

Start with Why –  Simon Sinek

Any other books that I should add to the list? Please message me or comment here and I’ll be sure to add to the list as soon as I read it.

Incentives/Rewards – Sometimes unexpected rewards work better than expected monthly bonuses for reaching goals. Every office is different, so if you have something that is working well for you and your team, by all means, continue doing it. However, if you would like some reward/incentive ideas for reaching daily/weekly/monthly production, collection, new patient, service/product, social media, and other goals but want to keep the rewards unexpected or more spontaneous, here you go…

In addition to  simple, yet appreciated, thank you cards; Spa Gift Card, Cash, Lunch/Breakfast, Purse/Tote bag, Gift Baskets, Plants/Flowers, Jewelry, Movie/Theater Gift Cards, Tickets to Game/Concert, Amusement Park tickets, Restaurant gift card, Gas cards and Car Wash Gift Cards.

If you would like even more ideas, be sure to follow this Pinterest Board: Employee Appreciation Gifts & Meeting Activities / Team Building Activities

Outside the office Fun: Bowling, Paint a Canvas, Shopping, Dinner, Cooking Class, Wally Ball, Baseball Game, Spa, Escape Room, Field Day (Team up with other offices), Concert, Skating, Batting Cages, Mini Golf, Pottery Class, Theater,  Pool party, Skiing, Nature hike/walk, Etc.

Continuing Education – Continuing education, not just for the providers but for the entire team is a wonderful way to ensure practice growth. Not to mention, it’s a great team-building experience, one that will give you a happier and motivated team. You can do this with in-office training, webinars, lunch and learns, and seminars/classes outside of the office.

Consider incorporating a dental continuing education class with a fun event, for example, CPR Course and Pool Party.

If you really want to have some FUN continuing education, take your team to TBSE! Have you heard about The Best Seminar Ever? Better known as TBSE? Seriously,  it absolutely is the best seminar I have ever been to. If you’re ready to boost your team and take your practice to the next level, please check it out here: TBSE -The Best Seminar Ever

Community Involvement – Visit the local farmers market, art/street fairs, Races/Run/Walk for-a-cause, Fundraisers, Parades, Etc. Be active in your community. Pass out freebies imprinted with your office information to the people attending these community events. Be sure to take pictures of you and your team out and about in the community and share to your social media pages and website.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

It is my wish that these ideas and tips will help you and your team experience greater happiness at work. If you have any other ideas or things that have worked well in your office, I would love to hear about them. If you have any questions or concerns about what you’ve read today, please contact me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com.

Did you enjoy these tips and ideas?   I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK

Have you signed up to receive my complimentary dental marketing and practice management ideas that are sent right to your email inbox each month? If not, take a second and sign up. Or send me your email address and I will send you an invite to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Pinterest

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