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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Pediatric Dental Practice Management Tips and Ideas

Pediatric Dental Practice Management Tips and Ideas

Hello Friends,

Are you looking to improve and grow your pediatric dental office? Today, I’m going to share several dental practice management ideas for your pediatric office. You may want to print out this article and discuss these ideas with your team. Together, come up with a plan that will help you become/remain the “go-to” pediatric office in your community.

Before we get started, keep in mind that the way to mom and dads’ heart is to treat their children well. The way to keep mom and dad loyal to your office is to treat their children exceptionally well. Why? Happy Kids = Happy Parents.  As a mother of two children, I know this to be TRUE!

Here you go, Dental Practice Management Ideas for the Pediatric Office

grow and improve your pediatric dental clinic

Yes, these are my precious children once upon a time 🙂

 

 Reception Room –

  • CLEAN/Well-maintained
  • Up-To-Date Décor
  • Video Games – Stationary or handheld devices
  • Books – Lending library bookshelf.
  • TV (children’s movies and short dental education videos)
  • Pictures – Wall of fame, digital photo frame or photo album filled with pictures of your patients.
  • Photo “booth” area with backdrop and photo props.
  • Tablet/Cell Phone charging station for parents.
  • Bottled water (beverage & snack station for parents.)

 New Patient Experience –

  • INTRODUCE yourselves to the parents & the child.
  • Give a tour of the office. Point out where the restroom is located.
  • Explain what they can expect during their visit
  • Free stuff – children love to pick out a prize after their visit.
  • Sign them up for your kids’ club/team.
  • Send them a welcome card after their first visit. Kids love to get mail!

Okay, time for a personal experience… I took my children to a new dentist. The hygienists’ took my children back for their cleaning appointments without introducing themselves to me or the kids first. Also, I was never invited back to meet the doctor before, during, or after his examination. Yes, I could have insisted on an introduction but seriously? common courtesy here, how difficult is a simple introduction? Turn off for me. And I can’t be alone here – I suspect most parents and children for that matter would appreciate a greeting and introduction.

Kids Club/Team –

I’m not a fan of “no cavity” clubs because I like to see all children have the opportunity to be part of the office kids club/team and sometimes, a child’s unfortunate cavity is the fault of the parent. Have a club/team that is just for fun and that rewards healthy habits, report cards, community involvement, etc. Take a picture of each child to hang on your wall of fame or in a digital photo frame or picture album, as well as for your website, newsletter and/or social media sites. Present the child with a certificate/wristband/t-shirt when they sign up for your kids’ club. Have monthly contests/drawings that the children can enter to win prizes.

Give-Aways – Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Floss/floss threaders, Toys, Puzzles, Kites, Books, Gift Cards, Bubbles, Stickers, Balloons, Fidget Spinners, Kites, Small Stuffed Animals, Glow items, etc.  Children love to leave the office with a small treasure.

Reviews/Recommendations – Ask for reviews and recommendations on Google and Facebook. Parents appreciate hearing from other parents about their experiences with your office. Most often, it is as simple as asking mom or dad if they would please take a minute to leave a review/recommendation.

Referrals – Acknowledge all referrals with a thank you card/letter signed by the dental team. Consider offering thank you gifts/raffle items. Prize ideas: Gift Cards, Family get-away, Gift Baskets, Etc. See Gift Ideas – Pinterest Board

Website – Have an attractive, informative, and up-to-date Website.

Social Media –  Utilize social media platforms to keep your current patients up to date with all of your office happenings, to build relationships with local businesses, and to connect with potential patients. Be sure to connect with community mom groups and all kid-related businesses on your social media platforms. (See this Pinterest Board for a plethora of posting images.)

Facebook Videos Share (live) videos about brushing & flossing techniques, what to do in a dental emergency, why baby teeth are important, what age should a child first visit the dentist, how much sugar is in your favorite drink/cereal/snack, healthy snack ideas and so on.

See Social Media Site Posting Content Ideas

Answer Your Phone – 

Sure, you know that the office phone should be answered within the first couple of rings by an unhurried, friendly scheduling coordinator whose goal is to schedule an appointment and wow the caller with excellent customer service but if you want to see greater results from your marketing efforts, then you must be certain that your office phone is answered during times when patients are calling. Minimum: Monday – Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm, including lunch hours.  Invest in your entire team by providing training on how to effectively answer the phone.

Forward your calls to an answering service if needed. Having a live person for the caller to talk to is so much better than your caller getting an answering machine or voice mail and then deciding to call the next dental office on their list in hopes of talking to a “live” person.

Also, despite our best intentions to not put a caller on hold we know that it still happens from time to time. Consider having an on hold message for these times, this way, you’ll have the opportunity to share office information, special offers, social media sites, etc. with the caller rather than them listen to nothing, an annoying beeping sound or lame music. See also: Should I Use A Message On Hold Service

Missed calls and calls poorly handled are missed opportunities and those missed opportunities mean missed dollars…big dollars!

For more telephone success tips, take a minute to read this helpful article: How to Effectively Answer the Dental Office Telephone

Blog/Website – Become the dental expert in your community. Post articles, videos, and pictures on your website and social media sites about different dental treatments/products, sports safety, what to do in a dental emergency, etc. TIP: Pin your blog posts, articles, videos and pictures to your office Pinterest boards. Pinterest is a GREAT way to drive traffic to your website. If you don’t already have Pinterest for your office, add that to your to-do list. Have a variety of family-related boards such as dental health tips, recipes, crafts, party ideas, healthy snacks, book ideas and more. Feel free to check out my Pinterest boards for ideas.

Distractions/Safety – TV’s in the treatment rooms, Ceiling Tile Scenery, Sunglasses, Etc. Make the experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for every child.

Contests/Drawing – Coloring contests, Monthly Gift Card/Gift Basket drawing, Wristband, Photo, Etc.

Post-Op Calls – Each evening place a “just wanted to see how well you’re doing call” to any patient that had an extraction or maybe was nervous or had a rough time during their visit.

Treatment Recommendations –  Make it easy for mom or dad to say yes to your treatment recommendations. Have effective financial plans in place. For convenience, offer more same-day treatment. For example, if you’re recommending sealants at the hygiene visit, if possible, do them at that time. This is coming from a busy mom, convenience matters!

Hygiene Continuing Care – Schedule their next hygiene appt. while they’re in the office. Be certain that your hygiene continuing care reports are being monitored and calls are going out to schedule appts.

First “Happy” Visit Experience – Take a picture of the child in the chair (holding a first visit sign or certificate) and give to their parent in a cute picture frame. Share these pictures on your social media pages. Tag the parents in the post.

Are you ready for the #1 Way to Grow your Pediatric Office?  

Consistently Exceed Parent & Patient Expectations and Consistently Be Great! Give your patients something positive to talk about to their neighbors, workmates, friends, and family members. Make it easy for them to refer patients to you. (If you need some ideas to help Improve your Office, be sure to check out 30 Little Things That Make Big Things Happen for your Dental Practice , Cleaning Checklist for your Dental Office

I know this is a lot of information but if you’re serious about wanting to grow your practice, then it’s worth it to take the time to implement some or all of the ideas that I have shared with you today. Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you don’t have to do this on your own, I’m here to help.

Reminder, keep track of your new patient referral sources. Put specific referral source codes into your software system, this way, when you ask “How did you hear about us?” you have the correct referral code to enter in and you’ll be able to acknowledge that source with a thank you as well as know what marketing is working to bring in new patients. Speaking of marketing, stay tuned as I will be sharing several pediatric dental practice marketing tips and ideas very soon!!

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 complimentary Dental Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please follow today or send me (bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea. Feel free to tell your dental friends all about this website so they can start benefiting from these dental ideas too.

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

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

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Dental Practice Management Tips and Ideas for June

Dental Practice Management Tips and Ideas for June

Hello Friends,

Did you catch my dental marketing ideas for June? If not, here is the link  Dental Marketing Tips and Ideas for June.

Now that you have your marketing plans set for June…

Are you looking to boost team morale? Is your dental schedule looking weak? Are you in need of some blog/email topic ideas? I’m here to help!

Dental Practice Management Ideas and Reminders for June

Hygiene Continuing Care/Recare Reminders:

Postcard & Social Media Site Scripting Idea: Summertime is a great time of year and it can also be a busy time of year. We encourage you to remember to take the time to squeeze in your regular dental visit before the summer months fly by. Regular dental visits are so important to your overall health.

More ideas on how to fill the hygiene schedule are found here: Ideas to Fill Holes in the Dental Hygiene Schedule

Incomplete Treatment Reports:

Many insurance companies renewed their maximum on June 1st. Pull a report of any patients due in hygiene or with incomplete treatment that have a June renewal date. Make calls and send letter/text/email that their maximum renewed and encourage them to schedule an appointment.

Blog Topic Ideas:

National Smile Month

National Candy Month

National Dairy Month

National Headache Awareness Week: 3-9th

Men’s Health Week: 11-17th

Say Something Nice Day: 1st – This one is easy, look for opportunities to say something nice to your team. What did we do “right” yesterday? How did we go the extra mile for a patient? Did you notice any team member that did something nice for a patient or another team member?

National Thank God It’s Monday Day: 4th  (First Monday)

If you and your team struggle to “like” Mondays, this might help: How to Love Monday

Recess At Work Day: 21st   

Get outside for a few minutes with your team for some fresh air. If you can’t all get outside, open the windows and turn up the radio.  How about a sweet treat to enjoy during “recess”? (ex: ice cream, frozen drink, etc.)

Here are some more team building ideas: Tips to Improve your Dental Office Part 4 ~ Happy Team

Hope you enjoy these ideas and are able to use some of them to help make the month of June a fantastic one for you, your team and your patients. Please let me know how you plan to use the ideas and what the outcome is. I love to hear about your success stories!

Are you receiving my free dental marketing and practice management ideas every month to your email? If not, PLEASE take a second and follow today or send me (bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) 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!

Yours for Greater Success!

~Betty

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

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Dental Practice Management Tips and Ideas for January

Dental Practice Management Tips and Ideas for January

Hello Friends,

Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day. ”    ~ Michael Josephson

December is a great time to find and create opportunities for growth in the New Year. Make your to-do list for any wanted and needed improvements to your office including setting your production, collection, treatment, continuing education, and new patient goals for the new year. Do include your team in this plan, ask them what their ideas are to make 2018 a more productive and happier year for all! People are more likely to support that which they help to create.

Here are some Practice Management Tips and Ideas to get you started:

January Dental Practice Management Ideas from Betty Hayden Consulting

Hygiene Continuing Care & Incomplete Treatment:

Insurance Maximums: Many of your patients’ dental insurance maximums renew on January 1. Phone your patients with a friendly reminder of their renewed benefits and make a reservation for them to come in for their hygiene visit or incomplete treatment with the doctor. Include reminders on your social media pages.

Inactive Patients: It doesn’t help anyone to have a file cabinet or computer full of inactive patients – Get them on the schedule. January is a great time to send We Miss You Reactivation Letters to your patients. For a sample letter, please email me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com.

Hygiene Patients: Are you pre-appointing hygiene visits? If not, January is a good time to make this a goal for the office. While you have the hygiene patient in the office, schedule their next 3, 4, or 6-month visit. Avoid saying “would you like to schedule your next appointment?” Some will say no. So instead, say this: “Let’s go ahead and schedule your next visit.” Assume they want to schedule their next visit. By the way, your entire team needs to be on board with pre-appointing your patients. It can be done! 

If you’re struggling to have a productive and effective hygiene department – I can help you with this.

National Clean Off Your Desk Day: Jan. 8th ~ Clutter represents indecision. Make a decision to get rid of the clutter! That includes any sticky notes attached to computer monitors, coats/sweaters hanging on the backs of chairs, and fast-food drink containers sitting out on the counters. While you’re at it, go ahead and attack the cabinets & closets. Say goodbye to the clutter!

National Compliment Day: Jan. 24th ~ Compliment a fellow team member when you catch them doing something “right”. Compliments boost morale.  (Tip: You don’t need a special day to do this, everyday compliment & reward the behavior and actions that you want to see more of. )

There you have it, a few dental practice management tips and ideas for January. I hope that you find them helpful. What are your goals for 2018? I would love the opportunity to work along with you and your team to help you set, and exceed your practice goals. If you would like to set up a complimentary telephone consultation, please email me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com. 

Stay tuned for my dental marketing ideas for January – they’re coming soon!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

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

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