How to Prevent Same Day Dental Hygiene Appointment Cancellations

How to Prevent Same Day Dental Hygiene Appointment Cancellations

Hello Friends,

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.

what do I say when patient calls to cancel their dental hygiene appointment

 

Please note: this isn’t scripting for perio appointment cancellations. You would use different scripting for those types of appointments.

Scenario #1:

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

Admin: NOOOOO!

What do you do? It’s 9:00, how are you supposed to fill that time slot?

Scenario #2:

Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 4:00, it’s just for a cleaning.

Admin: YESSSSS!

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!

Yours for Greater Success!

~Betty

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30 Little Things That Make Big Things Happen for your Dental Practice

30 Little Things That Make Big Things Happen for your Dental Practice

 “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

~John Wooden

Hello Friends,

It’s the little details, the little things that can make the biggest impact on your practice growth and the happiness of your team.  Best of all, the little things (ideas) that I am sharing today are FREE or very low-cost and most only require seconds of your time.

betty hayden consulting ideas to grow your dental practice

Here is a list of 30 little things you can do starting today to greatly improve your office and in turn your personal life too!

  1. Hello, Good Morning! – Make it a point to greet your fellow team members’ every morning. Let people know that you see them and acknowledge them with a hello.
  2. Smile More – Smiles are contagious. Smile before you pick up the phone, smile to passersby, smile to your teammates, and smile in the mirror. Smiling will boost your mood, put people at ease, and makes you more likable.
  3. Say My Name – Everyone likes to hear his or her name. Greet your patient’s by name. Use their name during treatment. Thank them by name for coming in or calling.
  4. Thank you – Express your appreciation.  Saying thank you improves your office, your health, and the patient’s experience.
  5. Choose to be Positive – Your attitude is a choice and that choice is 100% within your control. Avoid spreading negativity by sharing bad patient experiences, personal problems, or problems with other team members. Choose to be happy and positive.
  6. Be Kind – Be kind to your patients, strangers, sales reps, and callers.
  7. I’m Sorry – Accept responsibility when you are wrong. Be honest; simply say “I’m sorry I/We messed up”. (Tip: Keep small ($5) gift cards for coffee to give to your patients when you’ve messed up, i.e. running late, lab case mistake, appt. mix up, etc.)
  8. Friendly Greeting – Warmly greet every person that visits the office. Even if you’re on the phone or taking care of a patient, you can acknowledge the other person with a smile.
  9. Say Please – Make it a habit to say please every time you ask for something.
  10. Offer a Proper Handshake- A nice, firm handshake shows confidence and makes a good impression. (Tip: When a new patient comes into the office, come from around the desk and welcome them with a handshake.)
  11. Check it Twice – Before you send that email, letter, or text, check it for spelling errors.
  12. Social Media Sites – If your office is using social media sites be sure to like and follow the pages of local businesses within your community. Click the LIKE button or comment on their posts. This is an easy way to build relationships.
  13. No Cell Phones – Turn down the volume and put your cell phone away while you’re on the clock. Ask your family and friends to call the office line in the event of an emergency. Be fully present during work hours.
  14. Write it Down- Start and end your day with to-do lists. Write a note or set an electronic reminder to check on that claim, call your patient, check voice mail, etc. Writing things down prevents you from forgetting things that are important. (Tip: Avoid placing sticky notes around your workstation. Clutter is chaos to the patient. Place reminders in a notebook that you frequently refer to or set electronic reminders.)
  15. Commendation – Commend a fellow team member when you catch them doing something “right”. Commendation boosts morale.  (Tip: Commend & reward the behavior and actions that you want to see more of.)
  16. Business Cards – Carry your business cards with you and use them! Get your team personalized business cards to hand out to patients and people they do business with. (Tip: Use the back of the business card with a call to action invitation.)
  17. Stay on Time – If you’re often running behind schedule, investigate as to the reason(s) why. If you know the why… change whatever it is causing you to stray from the schedule. Running behind schedule sends a message to your patients and your team that you don’t respect their time. Arriving at the office with plenty of time before the first scheduled patient, expecting your patients to arrive on time, never wait on hygiene exams, calculate the actual amount of time it takes to do procedures, control the schedules, these things will help you stay on time.
  18. Patient of the Day! – Select a patient from the day’s schedule to be your “patient of the day”.  Give them a certificate, a small gift and take their picture to share on your social media sites. This is a fun and inexpensive way to exceed your patients’ expectations.  SEE Dental Patient of the Day Ideas
  19. Post-Op Calls – Doctors and Hygienists, call your patients at the end of the day to see how well they are doing. (Tip: Call all patients that received an extraction, perio treatment, difficult procedure, were fearful or new to the office.)
  20. Pre-Op Calls – Doctors and Hygienists start building your relationship with a new patient before they step foot in the practice. Call and give a warm welcome, let them know you are looking forward to meeting them at their appointment. It’s unexpected, takes only a few minutes and will really make your new patient feel special.
  21. Send a Card – In this electronic age, rarely do people get “real” mail. Send hand-written thank you, get well, thinking of you, anniversary, sympathy, and congratulations cards to your patients.  They will truly appreciate it! (Tip: Keep a supply of cards on hand in the office.)
  22. Everybody Clean Up – Pick up the piece of paper from the floor, dust off the plants, keep your workspace and the restroom clean. SEE Clean Your Dental Office
  23. Replace the roll of Toilet Paper – Even if there are still a few squares left to spare, replace with a fresh roll. While you’re at, go ahead and fold the toilet paper into a pretty fan.
  24. Huddle Up – 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 these tried and true suggestions & tips for morning meeting success.
  25. Negative Gossip – Refuse to listen to gossip and stop speaking & spreading gossip. Simple. As. That.
  26. Dress the Part – If you want it to be a great day, start by looking great. Wear clothes that reflect the excellent care you give your patients. This means wearing professional, clean and wrinkle-free clothes.  Also, your hair and body should be clean and odor-free. (Yes, I went there.)
  27.  Verbiage Matters – Use these words often: Absolutely, I’ll be happy to, My pleasure, You are very welcome, Certainly, and Right away.
  28. Acknowledge and Reward Referrals – For every patient you must have a referral source, how else will you be able to track what marketing works and what doesn’t? Especially if you want more referrals from your current patients, then reward the behavior that you want to see more of. Acknowledge and Reward your referrals.
  29. Answer the office Phone – This one is KEY to your success. All of your marketing efforts lead people to the phone first. Answer the office phone during the times when patients and new patients are most likely to call. This includes lunch hours. SEE How to Effectively Answer The Dental Office Phone
  30. Memorable Goodbyes – Make a great last impression with a friendly goodbye…be sure to use the patient’s name.

 “I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually, they make the difference between winning and losing.”

~Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Do the right thing, as a team work together to implement these little things in your office every day. Print this list and review it at your next team meeting.  Enjoy practice growth with a happier team and happy patients.

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

Seriously, your kind words always warm my heart! Thank you!

Looking for even more ideas? Check out my articles Ten Ways to Stay in Touch with your Dental Patients and How to Attract and Cultivate Loyal Dental Patients

If you would like help implementing these or other ideas into your practice and daily life, contact me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com to learn more about my coaching services.

Are you receiving my dental marketing and practice management tips and ideas via email each week? If not, start following today 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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Dental Office Tips and Ideas for September

Dental Office Tips and Ideas for September

Dental Tips and Ideas to help make September a great month!

Hello Friends,

For many dental offices, September is a slow month. Even for some of the offices that start the month with a full schedule report that as the month progresses the schedule tends to fall apart. There could be many different reasons why this happens every September. Perhaps for some, it is because families are still adjusting to the back-to-school schedules and don’t want to bother adding a visit to the dentist to their already too-hectic days. Whatever the reason, it hurts to have holes in the schedule. Yet, I have some offices that tell me September is always a great month for the schedule and production. I want you all to have that same experience. So I will share some tips and ideas with you to help make September a wonderful month.

Dental Practice Management and Marketing Tips and Ideas for September

Look at your schedule for September, find any days that have a few holes in them and declare them “special days for parents” or find any old reason to declare them a special day.

Reach out to all of your patients with incomplete treatment plans or that are past-due in hygiene.  Invite them to come in on this “special day” for their dental visit. What about the patients that already have an appointment scheduled? Share the special offer with them too. This will encourage them to keep their appointments!

Offer Incentives: $ off Ortho, Free Adult fluoride w/hygiene visit, Teeth Whitening Specials, % off treatment, etc. This could be a one day only event or you could feature a different service each day of the week.

Gift ideas: Raffle off a Gift basket, Big-ticket item or Gift Cards. Every patient that comes in for their appointment or refers a new patient during the month of September will be entered to win this wonderful prize.

Salons, Massage therapists, Restaurants, etc. may be more than willing to donate gift cards that you can use in a drawing or include in a gift basket that your patients can enter to win.

September is also the start of football season. Check out these ideas: Dental Office Tips and Ideas for Football Season

 Appointment Reminders – September is National Courtesy Month ~ Take this opportunity to remind your patients that: “As a courtesy to our patients we remind you of your dental reservation 1-2 days prior. We kindly request that you try to keep your dental appointments as scheduled. If you do require a scheduling change please notify us with at least a 48 hours notice of your appointment date. Thank you!”

Take control of the schedule. Here are some helpful tips and ideas: Scripting for when your dental patient calls to cancel their cleaning appointment…

Educational Opportunity – September is World Alzheimer’s Month, use this as an opportunity to educate your patients and the community about the importance of dental health care for Alzheimer’s patients in helping to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Insurance/HSA RemindersSend out your “Use it or Lose it reminder texts, emails, and letters. Pick up the phone and call your patients that have treatment planned, maximum remaining that renews in January but haven’t scheduled appointments to start/complete treatment.

~ Social Media Post Ideas to Improve Engagement ~

Random Acts of Kindness Day or Be Kind Day: 1st

Banana Day: 8th

National Clean Up Day: 15th

Talk Like A Pirate Day: 19th

Bright Pink Lipstick Day: 22nd

National One-Hit Wonder Day: 25th

National Good Neighbor Day: 28th

World Heart Day: 29th

So there you have it, some fun marketing ideas for the month of September. Please, be sure to stay in touch with me and keep me updated on any of the ideas that you use and if you have some thoughts on how to take these suggestions to the next level or just ways to improve on them I want to hear from you!

Sometimes despite your best efforts the schedule still falls apart. Don’t stress over it, instead use that downtime to do some training, team building and/or office cleaning/organizing. See  Clean Your Dental Office Using Your 5 Senses,  Dental Team Building Activities, Rewards, and Incentive Tips and Ideas and How to Attract and Cultivate Loyal Dental Patients

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/orFACEBOOK

Are you receiving my complimentary Dental Practice Management and Marketing Ideas via your email 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

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Dental Marketing Tips and Ideas for your Local School District

Dental Marketing Tips and Ideas for your Local School District

Hello Friends,

With the back-to-school season in full swing, there is no need to wait until February’s Dental Health month to reach out to the local schools in your neighborhood, start early in the school year building relationships with school staff & the families that attend these schools.

Here are just a few easy, inexpensive & effective ways for your dental office to reach out to your local schools.

dental office marketing ideas for schools

Gifts for School Staff – Choose one, two, or more schools (depending on the size of the teaching staff) and deliver some treats to show your appreciation for the work they do in caring for the children in your community. Some ideas: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Toothbrush goodie bags, Lip balm, etc. Be sure that your office information is clearly imprinted on any toothbrushes or small gifts. See my Pinterest boards for gift ideas

and/or

Host a Favorite Teacher Contest  – Invite local students to nominate their favorite teacher. Winning teacher gets FREE teeth whitening and a certificate stating they won for the favorite teacher contest. The classroom with the winning teacher gets a gift card for school supplies or pizza/ice cream lunch.

You could easily ask for donations from local businesses to add to the winning teacher’s prize or for the classroom.

This can be promoted via your office website, newsletters, postcards, emails, office social media sites, local newspapers and signs in your office.

Have fun with it and be sure to share lots of pictures on your social media pages.

Donations – Use your office as a community donation site for school supplies or new & gently used books to be donated to local children and/or schools in need. Advertise in office, on your social media sites, to local businesses and the news media via press release that your office is collecting donations for school supplies or books.

This is a GREAT way to bring in potential new patients… when folks come into the office to drop off their donations, be sure to warmly welcome them, give a brief tour of the office, hand out small thank you gifts that are imprinted with your office information or have a raffle they can enter to win a prize.

Book Fairs – Many schools will be hosting book fairs this school year.  And if your local school(s) are anything like mine, these book fairs draw a very large crowd.

Create fun, interesting Bookmarks for your local schools that include your office contact information. Deliver these bookmarks as a gift to the local schools to use during their book fairs. Easy! Right?

Just a few more ideas…

Social Media Sites – Post school-related content to your social media sites, such as:

  • Back to School Tips
  • Healthy Lunch/Snack ideas
  • What to do in a Dental Emergency?
  • Ortho care while at school
  • Dental Health (importance of, regular check-ups, sealants, mouthguards, fluoride & braces)

Give-Away – Or have a school-themed gift that you’ll raffle off.  Promote via your social media sites. Allow for your current patients and potential patients to TAG their favorite teacher in the post for a chance to win the gift. Encourage them to share the post on their pages.

Tooth bags – Make up a little bags or boxes with a “congratulations on your lost tooth” message from your office with space to write the child’s name. Deliver these to local elementary schools for them to keep on hand for when a student loses a tooth during the school day. Both of my kids have come home with a tooth wrapped in a napkin or in a plain Ziplock bag. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to advertise your office?

For additional ideas to use with local schools see February’s Children’s Dental Health Month and October/November’s Candy Buy Back. Also, my Marketing Ideas for August have some nice ideas for you to use with students & teachers.

I have witnessed firsthand just how effective marketing to local schools can be. The opportunity to bring in many new patient families to your practice is huge.

Please feel free to share with me your ideas for marketing to local schools or if you have any dental marketing questions that I can help you answer, please comment below.

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 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!

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Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

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