Many dental offices are facing the potential for the weakest fall schedules they have ever experienced. For others, your schedules may look pretty good for September as you have been reappointing patients that had appts during the shutdown. It may even look better than ever. So, if you’re busy right now does it even matter what the schedule looks like for October and November? After all, there is still plenty of time to fill all those holes, right?
For numerous reasons, it matters greatly what your schedules look like for this fall and as for having plenty of time to fill those holes, well, we know what happens with time… it goes by very quickly, especially when we’re busy!
Typically, a full hygiene schedule today means a full doctor schedule tomorrow – why is that? Approximately, 75% of restorative needs are discovered during hygiene patient visits.
Unfortunately, when there is that open chair time with no production to collect on, your overhead expenses continue without letup.
This isn’t just about money though – our focus should always be on helping our patients smile healthier and happier. When Your Patients Are Healthy – The Practice Is Healthy. To help make our patients healthier we need them to schedule appointments.
Here are some tips and ideas that won’t require a lot of extra time or expense to help improve your schedules for this fall…
#1. Morning Huddle – At your morning huddle, review schedules for patients coming in without a future hygiene appointment scheduled, any family members due in hygiene, and patients with unscheduled treatment plans. What is your plan to ensure that these patients leave with their next appointment scheduled.
#2. Broken Appointments – Who is tracking, and how are they tracking your broken appts? More importantly, what proactive steps are taken to reduce or eliminate broken appts in your office? (One broken appt a day can cost a practice well over $30,000 a year in lost production. Imagine what that number looks like if you have more than one broken appt a day.)
If a patient cancels same-day be sure to get them reappointed while you’re on the phone with them. Unless of course, they are a habitual offender – poor appointment behavior doesn’t get rewarded with the privilege of reserving time on your schedule. How to Reduce Same Day Dental Appointment Cancellations and No Shows
#3. Telephones – It is imperative that all team members are well-trained to effectively care for the patients and potential patients calling your office. How many calls end with an appointment scheduled and how many do not? Are your office phones being answered during the times that patients and potential patients are most likely to call? How many times is the phone ringing before being answered? How often are callers being put on hold?
What about the “shopper” callers, the callers with insurance questions, the callers with questions about whether going to the dentist is safe or not, the callers asking if you’re accepting new patients, how do you know that these calls are being handled and cared for effectively? How do you know that your team members are not inadvertently keeping them from scheduling an appointment? Keeping you from welcoming them into the practice as new patients?
This may not seem like a big deal or related to what I am talking about today but how the telephone callers are cared for or not cared for has a big impact on your schedules and the growth of your practice. Dental Office Telephone Principles
#4. Treatment Plan Presentations and Completions – Pull your unscheduled treatment plan reports. Even if you prefer to leave it to your patients to decide when they’re ready to schedule, you certainly can keep in touch with them and continue to gently plant some treatment reminder seeds of urgency, want, and need.
#5. Welcoming New Patients – What are your plans to successfully welcome more new patients into the practice? What are you willing to do differently in order to reach/exceed your monthly new patient goals?
#6. Community – What are some things you can do to get your name out there in the community? If you’re not already, now is an awesome time to become the “go-to” dentist in your city/town.
What can you and your team do to give back to the community? Hint: I share ideas with you each month to do just that. Are you following my monthly emails? Dental Office Marketing, Leadership, and Management Tips and Ideas for September 2020
#7. Reviews & Recommendations – This one is super easy! Let your patients do some of the work, invite them to do the talking for you. Give them something good to talk about and spread to their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. How? Consistently deliver excellent experiences via the telephone and in-person at their appointments. Make it easy for them to leave a review on Facebook and Google My Business.
Please do not underestimate the power of “fresh” online reviews and recommendations to grow your practice.
#8. Insured Patients – Mid September, early October start your end of year insurance “use it or lose it” reminders and campaigns. Patients tend to wait until the last minute to try and squeeze in a dental appointment to use their remaining benefits – strongly encourage them to beat the end of the year rush.
#9. In-Office Savings Plan – If your office offers an in-office savings plan, create some campaigns to let more uninsured people and local small businesses know about your awesome and affordable in-office savings plan.
This is especially important right now as many of your patients may have lost their dental insurance coverage – or they know someone that does not have insurance and can refer them to you.
#10. Continuing Education and Team Building – The fall season may be the perfect time to schedule some in-office continuing education and training. As well as some fun team building activities.
Bonus Tip: Celebrate your Success! – This is going to require a team effort to enjoy productive and healthy schedules for the rest of this year and beyond so please be sure to find ways to celebrate your success. Reward the behavior that you want to see more of! 🙂
Wishing you all the healthiest and happiest schedules for this Fall!
Doctors, if you would like to grow and improve your dental practice and have wondered what it might be like to work with me and what coaching is all about… please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation coaching call at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty – Dental Coach