Hello Dental Friends,
Holes in the dental hygiene schedule, why do we dread this so much? Because, unfilled appointments, canceled or missed appointments all kill profitability.
So what do you do? You probably are desperate for a quick fix to fill the holes in the schedule. Right? Well, I’ll help you out by sharing some ideas to fill the hygiene schedule as a quick fix. However, I must say a quick fix is typically only a temporary fix. If holes in the schedule are becoming the norm around your office you need something more than a quick fix to figure out why this is happening and work to prevent your hygiene schedule from looking like Swiss cheese every week. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here if this is becoming an issue with your schedule. I can help you prevent these holes from happening.
On to the ideas for a quick (temporary) fix:
Note: If at all possible, try to avoid moving patients appointments around to fill in gaps. It can aggravate the patient. It’s always best to keep their appointment as scheduled.
Also, this isn’t the time to point fingers or start blaming someone for having holes in the schedule. Work together, as a team to fill these holes. Ideally, the hygienist should be involved in making these calls to patients, etc. Patients are more likely to respond when it’s their beloved hygienist calling them. Besides, the hygienist(s) are obviously the one(s) with the extra time. So the ideas I share are directed to the hygiene department with the goal of them becoming productive, happy and profitable. (Again, you will want to at a later date, work together as a team to determine why this is happening and create solutions to repair the breakdown.)
- Call List – Do you have any patients that would like to come in at an earlier date for their hygiene appointment? Call them and let them know you have a rare unexpected change in the schedule and can see them sooner.
- Cancellation/Missed Appt List – Do you have any patients on these lists that can be called?
- Family Members – Check for other family members due for their hygiene appt. Is there someone coming in with hygiene that has family members that are also due in hygiene that may want to take one of those open slots.
- Doctors Schedule – Check the doctors schedule for any patients that may be due for their hygiene appt and are coming in around the time that needs to be filled in hygiene. Invite them to take care of their hygiene appointment at the same time.
- Incentives – Offer an Incentive for accepting a last-minute appointment. For example, complimentary fluoride, teeth whitening, small gift or gift card. Use your social media platforms to advertise this awesome today (or tomorrow) only opportunity.
- Continuing care/past-due List – Get on the phone and with an enthusiastic and positive tone make some calls to your patients that are due or past due in hygiene. (Vary the times you make these calls. You’ll reach more patients this way.)
- Social Media – Engage with your patients, potential patients and local businesses on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. For ideas see: Social Media Content
- Spend more time with your patients. If you have open time that couldn’t be filled, take this opportunity to discuss better home care tools, update their information and medical history, do some perio charting, talk about cosmetic services, any recent continuing education courses, place sealants, apply desensitizing agent to any sensitive teeth, take impressions for whitening trays, review incomplete treatment with them, ask them if they’ll kindly leave a review on Google, Facebook or Yelp, mention how dental gift certificates make great gifts, etc.
Just a reminder before making any calls, it would be a good idea to check your patient’s account balance, insurance benefits and review their clinical notes. Also, be sure to document all calls, conversations, and correspondence made to or with the patient.
If the holes in your schedule are a few weeks out you can try these ideas:
- Reactivate Patients – Send out “We Miss You” letters to your patients that haven’t been in for a year or more. See Reactivation/ We Miss You Letter
- Special Offers – Focus on a particular service or group of patients to target with special offers or prizes on a day that has a lot of holes. For example, Mouthguards / Teeth Whitening / Sealants / Desensitizing Agents / Back to School / Kids day / Senior day.
- Fun Themed days – Superhero, Luau, BBQ, Disney, Sports, etc.
Despite your best efforts to fill the schedule, you may still end up with some holes that just couldn’t be filled. That’s alright, there is plenty to do to remain productive during this time.
- Get on the phone and make continuing care calls.
- Pull Incomplete hygiene treatment report and call, send postcards, emails, texts or letters to your patients.
- Make calls, send emails, postcards, letters, etc.to your patients that are due, past due or almost due in hygiene.
- Thoroughly clean and stock treatment rooms.
- Get out and visit with area businesses. Introduce the office, take them a small gift and a “let’s get acquainted” special offer.
- Discuss some marketing ideas for the office.
- Continuing Education. Watch a webinar or video, read a manual, etc. Improve your clinical skills, knowledge of new technology and procedures, telephone scripting, office protocols, etc.
- Take a tour of the office and look for any areas that could use some improvements. See Tips to Improve your Office – First Impressions and Tips to Improve your Office – Make a Change for ideas.
I hope these ideas provide you with a quick fix to fill those holes in your schedule. Let me know how they work for you.
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Yours for Greater Success!