Where are your dental patients? Have they been reappointed to come back for another visit? Or have they been left unscheduled? Whether or schedule is light or jammed packed with patients the answers to these questions matter greatly to the success of your practice.
Friends, do you know how many of your active patients are scheduled for a future visit and how many are unscheduled? You need to know where you’re at currently to know what your potential for growth is. To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities.
Why is this so important? Because when your patients are healthy – your practice is healthy. For your patients to smile healthy they need to schedule the treatment you’ve diagnosed and to come in regularly for their hygiene continuing care appointments.
Are you struggling with any of the following?
Low treatment plan acceptance from your patients.
The schedule is so full that you have no available appointments for several months.
Not knowing your active and inactive patient numbers.
Hygiene continuing care reports are a nightmare.
Too many holes in the schedule.
Poor treatment presentation skills.
Too many patients left the practice and you don’t know why.
Not enough time to keep your office social media sites current.
Very few patient reviews and recommendations on Google and Facebook
Plan now to end 2021 as your BEST year yet! Get whatever help and training you need and want to make the necessary improvements. Feel free to contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if a coaching relationship is right for you.
Today, I’d like to help you tackle one of those struggles… your inactive and unscheduled patients. Let’s reactivate all of your patients that haven’t been in for one year or longer and schedule your active patients that are currently unscheduled.
What is your plan and system for reactivating and reappointing your patients…. (attack that File Cabinet…or computer patient database!)
Ideally, daily, weekly, and monthly efforts should be made to develop and maintain relationships with your patients in order to keep them active. This is true even when you’re so busy you have no time to reach out to your unscheduled patients and/or no available appointments. Why?
The best way to keep your patients active is to be sure to reappoint them for their next hygiene continuing care visit when they are there at the office. Also, help more of your patients say yes to your treatment recommendations and have them reserve their appointment at the time treatment is diagnosed and presented to them. You should be tracking both your pre-appointments and your re-appointments. This is important if you want to reduce patient attrition and reduce the amount of money and time spent trying to reach these patients later on down the road.
Control the Schedule – Same-day cancelations attempts and broken appointments must be handled effectively. The goal is to greatly reduce the number of same-day schedule changes and for the appointments that you can’t save be sure to reschedule them while the patient is still on the phone. (Unless of course, they’re a habitual offender!) See more tips here: How to Reduce Same Day Dental Appointment Cancellations and No Shows
However, if for whatever reason your inactive patient database is growing (you are tracking this, right?) – take steps now to welcome those patients back into the schedule. You can start by reaching out to them with a We Miss You reactivation letter and email.
If you would like a sample letter that you can customize to your practice for your patients – feel free to request one at email@example.com.
Some suggestions for your letter are:
Include a deadline to respond.
Use a handwritten colored envelope (Grab their attention!).
Include Special Call to Action Offer
Make a call to the patients about a week after mailing the letter.
Be sure to document all attempts at contacting the patient and the response in your practice management software.
Include Social Media & Office Contact Information.
I hope that these tips and ideas are helpful to you.
I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK. Thank you very much!!
Are you receiving my free Dental Leadership, Practice Management, and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please follow today or send me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea.
Are same-day broken appointments stressing you out? You leave the office at the end of the day with a beautiful, full schedule for the next day and arrive back at the office in the morning only to have the schedules fall apart at the last minute. Ugh! 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 am certain 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 it with everyone on the team. We need everyone in the office following the same protocol/system for you to be successful. Consider reviewing this at your next huddle or team meeting.
Tips and Ideas to reduce last-minute cancellations and no shows:
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 a 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, Don’t say “Calling to confirm” – it should be “We’re looking forward to seeing you on ____ at ____. OR ____ is looking forward to seeing you…” When is the last time you reviewed your electronic appointment reminder messages and intervals and your appointment confirmation protocol?
Unconfirmed Appointments – If it is 1 day before the appointment and you have a patient or patients’ that haven’t responded to your appointment reminders, you must 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. This means they should be seated in the treatment chair on or before their appt time. Avoid running behind schedule. (Tip: Make sure you are allowing enough time on the schedule for each procedure/appt type.)
Appointments ASAP – If a patient calls (especially a New Patient) to schedule an appointment and they can’t get in for 2 or more weeks you are at risk of that patient calling somewhere else to get an appointment sooner or other life’s distractions and priorities getting in their way moving them to cancel last-minute or no-show. If your schedules are so full that patients are having to wait to get in they might feel like you’re too busy for them or that their dental care needs are not important. If you do not have an immediate opening let the patient know that you’ll place them on your priority list and while it doesn’t happen very often if there is an unexpected change to the schedule and you can see them sooner they’ll be the first to know.
Doctors, if you’re struggling to reach your practice goals or that there is too much chaos in your practice– feel free to contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation 30-minute telephone consultation at email@example.com to see if a coaching relationship is right for you.
New Patients– Don’t rely on electronic reminders for your new patients. Instead, call and let them know you’re looking forward to meeting them and briefly share with them what to expect during their first visit.
Bad Appointment History – If a patient has a history of not showing up 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 a bad history (more than 2 or more broken appts)…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.” This will you give you time to fill that appointment time with a different patient.
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. Preferably, the hygienist should always schedule the next appointment from the treatment room. Take a second to stress to the patient how important this appointment is and what you’ll be looking for at their next appt. (It’s not just a cleaning and there is a reason for the recommended appt interval.)
Scheduling Appointment – When scheduling appointments for your patients let them know that this time is being reserved exclusively for them. Also, consider having patients pay their co-pay or leave a deposit at the time of scheduling. Especially, if you’re reserving more than an hour on the doctor’s schedule.
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 their 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 or if they don’t return your call. 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 the 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. Create a system for how to care and respond to same-day cancellation attempts. Cancellations are not OK. 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, to respectfully help the patient find a way to keep the appointment as scheduled without threatening or embarrassing them.
If you currently leave it up to the patient to call back and reschedule you are not only creating more work for yourself but you’re putting the office at risk of losing that patient due to inactivity. Reschedule/reappoint the patient while you have them on the phone.
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? 😉
Sending you wishes for a full and productive schedule… one that doesn’t fall apart!
Friends, if you do not know what your office’s broken appointment and reappointment numbers and percentages look like, including how many of your active patients are unscheduled, and many other important key practice indicators; please take note of what those numbers look like and what systems you have in place to track these patients. You need to know where you’re at currently to know how to best care for your patients and what your potential for growth is. To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities. I am happy to assist you with this at no charge.
I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK. Thank you!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.
A complaint I hear quite often is “we have so many hygiene cancellations every day!” Does that happen to you? You have a beautiful, full hygiene schedule at the start of the day and by the afternoon the schedule looks more like swiss-cheese! UGH!
Most often I discover that we have allowed patients to think it’s ok to cancel at the last minute. If you have created this cancellation monster, it will take some time to re-train your team and your patients. How do we train our patients that it’s ok to cancel last-minute?
Not creating true value for the appointment through patient education.
Constantly rescheduling patients appointments because of some change to the provider’s schedule.
Not respecting the patients time by running behind and not giving the very best experience from start to finish.
Telling the patient, no problem or that it’s OK when they call to cancel.
Poor and inconsistent appointment reminder systems and protocols.
Not acknowledging no-shows with a telephone call 5 minutes after their scheduled appointment time and with a follow-up letter/text/email.
Sadly, I have heard many offices tell the patients, no problem when they call to cancel. They don’t even attempt to reschedule. They just say OK and hang up. I’m not joking. This really happens.
Today, I’ll share with you some scripting examples for handling calls from patients that want to cancel same-day hygiene appointments.
Please note: this isn’t scripting for perio appointment cancellations. You would use different scripting for those types of appointments.
Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 10:00, it’s just for a cleaning.
What do you do? It’s 9:00, how are you supposed to fill that time slot?
Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 4:00, it’s just for a cleaning.
What do you do? Celebrate, of course! Now you can get out early.
I’m kidding! We hate cancellations (even the “just a cleaning” ones) at any time of day because they all kill profitability.
So what do you say to the patient when they try to cancel? How do you save the appointment?
You can’t save them all, there are unavoidable, legitimate reasons that some patients are canceling their appointment. For help filling the schedule with those inevitable last-minute cancellations, please see:Ideas to Fill Holes in the Dental Hygiene Schedule
For all others, try this:
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. But, 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.
Ultimately, preventing cancellations starts with creating value for the appointment before it’s even scheduled… it’s never “just a cleaning” that they are trying to cancel.
Create solid hygiene continuing care protocols for your team and consistently follow them.
If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share each month, I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK
Are you receiving my free dental marketing and practice management ideas every month to your inbox? If not, PLEASE take a second and follow today or send me your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea. Feel free to share my blog with your dental friends. ~ Thank you!
October is the start of your final quarter for the year. It’s your opportunity to make it your best fourth quarter ever. To help you plan for that, today I’m sharing some tips and ideas with you. Ideas that when implemented will keep things fresh and fun in your office. More importantly, they will exceed your patients and potential patients’ expectations which will allow you to focus on doing what you do best, helping your patients achieve healthy and beautiful smiles. Why? Because exceeding your patients’ expectations will help keep them loyal to your office.
Here are some fun ideas for October –
Many offices have made the decision to be part of October’s Candy Buy Back Program; this is a great way to exceed your current patients expectations, attract new patients and build relationships within the community. Here are a few candy buy back ideas for you:
Candy Buy Back –
Collect candy in office. Open to the Public
Or you can do this,
Team up w/local school(s) and set up collection bins in each classroom where the kids can bring in their candy and the classroom with the most candy wins a gift card or get a local pizzeria to donate pizza for a classroom pizza party for the winning classroom.
National Apple Month – See Apple Month dental tips and ideas
Service/Product Opportunity –
National Orthodontic Health Month – Use this as an opportunity to promote Invisalign. This time of year, people are thinking about gift ideas and want to get their smile camera-ready for their end of year parties.
Community Involvement Opportunity –
National Field Trip Month – Don’t wait for Children’s Dental Health Month in February to invite local schools to bring in their students for a Field Trip to the dentist. Bring them in during the month of October instead.
National Face Your Fears Day: 10th – Opportunity to share what you do to help make dental visits more comfortable for the fearful patient.
National Dental Hygiene Month – Throughout the month, make a special effort to work your hygiene continuing care lists. Send emails, texts, and make calls encouraging patients to schedule their hygiene appointments. Use your website and social media platforms to share dental hygiene tips and facts with the community.
Another great way to market your dental office is by having the best team ever! To help you grow and train your dental team I suggest that you all attend TBSE 2018 (The Best Seminar Ever!). You will love it!! Plus, I’ll be there and it would be awesome to meet you in person!! See why this is truly the best seminar here: The Best Dental Seminar Ever
~ Social Media Post Ideas to Improve Engagement ~
National Taco Day: 4th – Check out this idea for taco day…
World Smile Day: 5th
National Kick Butt Day: 8th
Boss’s Day: 16th
Get to Know Your Customer’s Day: 18th
National Knock-Knock Jokes Day: 31st
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
Are you receiving my free dental marketing and practice management ideas every month to your inbox? If not, PLEASE take a second and follow today or send me your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea ~ Thank you!
It is my wish that you all have a wonderful October!