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 Morning Meeting Tips and Suggestions

Dental Office Morning Meeting Tips and Suggestions

Hello Friends,

Do you ever feel like your attempt to conduct a daily morning huddle is just a big hassle? That the meetings are a waste of time? Or maybe you’re already conducting morning meetings and want to make them more effective, please keep reading!

Today, I want to share with you some tips and suggestions that will help you have effective morning huddles and answer some questions that many of you have asked about morning huddles.

dental office morning meeting agenda

Why should I have a morning huddle/meeting?

The morning meeting is essential for a successful day. If you tried in the past to have a morning huddle and it didn’t work out… try again! However, this time, please follow my tried and true suggestions & tips. Every dental office wants to produce more, collect more, stress less, have happy doctors and team members and consistently exceed patient expectations. Right? Well, effective morning huddles help to make those things a reality.

Remember this: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

When should the morning huddle start? and How long should it last?

Fifteen – twenty minutes before the first scheduled patient.   It should last no more than 10-15 minutes. Taking 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning to ensure the day starts off happy and productive is well worth it.

Who should attend the morning meeting?

Everyone. If scheduling prevents everyone from attending…at the very least the doctor(s), hygienist(s), assistants and someone representing the administrative team. It is imperative for a team member to be assigned at every meeting to update the employee(s) not present of what was discussed/announced. No one should be left in the dark. This eliminates any “I didn’t know” or “no one told me!”

Who leads the huddle?

Rotate team members to conduct the meeting and make certain that everyone stays on point and that the meeting ends and starts on time (appoint a time-keeper)! Doctors (lead by example) be present at the start of the mtg and end each meeting on a positive note. Team members from each department can & should contribute what pertains to their particular department.

What do you talk about?

Focus on: Today and Tomorrow and a little bit of yesterday 😉

START and END the meeting with something POSITIVE.

  • Ata-boy/gal minute – 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? Did anything happen yesterday that could be improved upon or avoided in the future? If yes, How?
  • Holes – Can a hygiene patient in need of restorative slide over into the doctors chair? Is there anyone coming in with the doctor that is due in hygiene? If not, how will we remain productive during this downtime?
  • Emergency time – Where can we put the “true emergencies”?
  • Potential trouble spots – Review schedule for any potential trouble/hiccups/hang-ups. Such as: doctor needed in multiple places at the same time, habitually late patient, copays that must be collected, difficult patient, etc. Do everything in your power to start, stay & end on time, exceed patient expectations and work together as a team for a smooth & happy day.
  • New Patients / Referral Sources – Who are our new patients today and how did they hear about our office? Everyone be ready to warmly greet all patients but introduce yourselves to all new patients. Thank them for coming in.
  • Pre-op calls – Any new patients coming in tomorrow or the next day that the provider can call and welcome?
  • Same day services – Identify any patients that would benefit from same day services (fluoride, x-rays, desensitizing agents, whitening, mouthguards, better home care tools)
  • Post-op calls – Did we call yesterday’s patients to check in on them? Preferably the doctor and hygienist should make their own calls. (Who do you call? All new patients and any patients that had anesthetic, extraction, or perio therapy. Also, any patients that may have been fearful.
  • Social Media – Who will help with that today? Ask patients to like the office (or check-in) on Facebook, follow on Twitter & Instagram. So many reasons throughout the day to post to your social media sites, such as: a patient brings in a treat, to welcome a new patient to the office, a child joined your kid’s club/team, celebrate a beautiful cosmetic restoration/teeth whitening, etc.
  • Testimonials/Reviews – Who is a candidate for providing a testimonial/review? Be alert throughout the day to ask for testimonials/reviews. Especially when a patient compliments the office on something… ask for a written or online testimonial. Take their picture (with permission) to post on your social media sites/website. NOTE: If a patient that is coming in for today has previously filled out an online survey be sure to review it. If they had a problem make certain it’s not repeated, if it was praise be sure to thank the team and the patient!
  • Goals – Look at Production, Scheduling & Collection goals for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Reminder to collect all co-pays at time of appointment!!
  • Treatment plans – Remember, offer the very best treatment options to your patients, let’s not “watch” or “wait until next visit” chances are it will only worsen. Let the patient decide for themselves! Were there any patients that came in yesterday that we treatment planned and they did not schedule an appointment? WHY?
  • Conclusion – End the meeting on a positive note. Tell a funny joke, read a positive quote and/or thank your team. Watch a quick motivational, educational or funny video clip. This meeting sets the tone for the day… Make it a happy one! Let’s go change someone’s life or at the very least help them smile bigger and healthier!

Here are a few additional tips for a successful morning huddle:

  • Come prepared! Have ready copies of the schedule (today and tomorrow). Charts/treatment should be reviewed the day prior to the huddle. Be sure to have available your collection, scheduling and production goals for today and tomorrow and yesterday’s results.
  • Stand for the meeting. This helps to keep the huddle on time and hold everyone’s attention.
  • Maintain a positive attitude regarding the importance of DAILY morning meetings.
  • Use a check-list! This will help you stay on time and cover all points.
  • FOOD! Every once in a while surprise the team with bagels, donuts, coffee, muffins, etc.

I strongly encourage you to implement daily morning huddles, simply because I know that they’re effective and I want all of you to have happier, more productive and stress-free work days!

Should you need any help implementing these ideas or have any other questions that I can help you answer…I’m ready to help.

If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share each month, I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK

If you are not yet receiving my free dental marketing ideas every month to your email inbox, PLEASE take a second and subscribe today. This way, you won’t miss a single idea. Feel free to share my blog with your dental friends. ~ Thank you!

Huddle Up and Have a Great Day!

Yours for Greater Success!

~Betty

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A Happy Dental Team is not just a dream!

A Happy Dental Team is not just a dream!

Hello Friends,

The key to successfully improving your dental practice, reaching your goals and having loyal and happy patients is to have a loyal and happy team. For some, this can be quite challenging.

I want to help. I’m going to share with you some tips and ideas on how to have a Happier and more Productive Team.

how to have a happy dental team

When people feel valued, appreciated, heard, supported, acknowledged and included, they are motivated to bring their best selves forward. ~ Betsy Myers

Isn’t that the truth? I know it’s that way for me. I’m sure your team would respond the same way. Give it a try with these tips and ideas…

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. This includes any employee in a management position – if you have employees complaining about your office manager, take it seriously. A toxic office manager will destroy your practice over time, at the very least, cause a staff turnover nightmare.  In fact, any employee that is toxic to your vision, to your team, and/or your patients…needs to go. It’s not easy to make the decision to terminate someone’s employment, yet absolutely necessary if you want to improve your practice. Once you make the decision to no longer tolerate or allow the poor behavior and attitudes in your practice, you’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Hire only the Best – Take the time necessary to screen your job candidates. Don’t be so quick to hire that you settle for less than the best. Allow your team to spend time with the candidates prior to hiring. See how they interact with each other and with your patients.

“Remember there is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it.” – Liz Tahir

Compensation – You get what you pay for.  Pay your employees well.  Simple as that.

Communication  – Job descriptions and expectations must be clearly defined for each employee.  Don’t assume they know. This will help keep things running smoothly, efficiently, and productive.  (Have every team member write down a detailed list of all of their job responsibilities. This is VERY helpful in determining more effective ways of doing things as well as finding out what is NOT being done.)

Team Meetings/Morning Huddles are essential for a happy and smooth work day. Visit HERE for some tips on how you can have a successful morning huddle.

Address quickly any needed discipline or correction; don’t wait for a staff meeting to address these problems. Instead, meet one on one with the offender right away and move forward.

Avoid office negativity and gossip, it’s toxic and will infect your team – Rather, focus on and share positive experiences.

Respect – Respect your team by sticking to the scheduled work hours. Be sure that they are not habitually working through their lunch or having to work late. They need breaks to refresh and refuel. Give them that. They have a life outside of work and making them work past their scheduled end time is a real drag. I understand that sometimes unexpected events may occur so they might be asked to work late or into a lunch hour but this should be the rare occasion, not a daily or even occurrence. If you find that this is happening frequently, it’s time to reevaluate your systems for scheduling appointments and your office hours.

Commendation – This one is easy. Commend your employees when you catch them doing something “right”. Commendation boosts morale. Applaud & reward the behavior and actions that you want to see more of. Simply thanking your team at the end of the day goes a long way in making them feel appreciated. Little surprise treats and gifts every now and then are also much appreciated.

Involve and Empower – Knowing why you show up every morning will help to create a culture of happiness and excellence.  Involve the entire team in your vision, mission, and goals for the practice. Involving your team will help to keep everyone on the same page; working together for the greater good of the practice. Encourage and empower your team to not only come up with new ideas and solutions to problems but to implement these ideas and solutions.

 Training – Don’t hold back in this area! Invest in your team. Thoroughly train any new employees on your practice goals, systems, software, telephone skills, dental procedures, protocols, etc.  However, training isn’t just for your new employees, everyone in the office needs regular training. This leads me to the next point…

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. Think about this, your administrative team is the first and last impression made on each and every one of your patients. This includes potential patients that call your office. Certainly, you want to have the very best training and education for not only your clinical team but your administrative team too. You can do this with in-office training, webinars, lunch and learns, and seminars/classes outside of the office.

For example, have you heard about The Best Seminar Ever? Better known as TBSE? For real, I attended TBSE last year and it absolutely was 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

If you’re unsure about the true value of continuing education for your entire team, consider the following scenario… You the doctor, come back from a dental seminar all fired up to implement some new ideas, protocol or the use of a new/improved dental procedure or cool piece of dental equipment and your team is less than enthused, maybe a little angry that they cannot possibly add one more thing to their already too busy day. Besides, the way they do things is how they always have and it’s working out just fine…

Sound familiar? Is there a chance you might have some new dental equipment or training manuals just sitting on the shelf, begging to be used? I hope not. However, if this or something similar has happened to you, it’s most likely because your team didn’t understand or appreciate the why and the how. Knowing why and how this new idea, technique, equipment or procedure works, benefits the patient and the office as a whole is critical to enthused implementation.

Have Fun! – Have more fun in your office with Team Building Activities, Events, & Rewards.  More on this one coming soon!

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.

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

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Remember there is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it.

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