Schedule for Practice Success, Not Chaos
There’s no question your practice is busy. Most days, you see patient after patient and barely have time for a break. Even the cancellations and no-shows that plague every practice typically don’t slow you down. You have plenty of patients who are happy to take those appointment slots, rather than wait three weeks or more to see you. Like many other dentists, you equate practice success with a full schedule and busy days. The problem is, running a profitable dental practice isn’t about working at a break-neck speed or simply “keeping busy.” It’s about productivity.
Controlling your schedule, rather than letting it control you, is key to achieving maximum productivity and profitability. In fact, the schedule is probably the most critical system in your practice, yet it’s also one of the most abused. A hodge-podge of names and dates strung together with little or no direction, other than to keep you busy, just isn’t going to cut it. And it’s likely stressing you out, costing you patients and hurting your bottom line.
Your schedule coordinator’s job isn’t to keep you busy; it’s to make sure you meet daily production goals. If any of these seven scenarios are playing out in your practice right now, that isn’t happening:
1. You’re booked more than three weeks out and it’s pretty common for patients to have to wait weeks to get an appointment, even for routine procedures.
It’s time to stop the chaos and take back your schedule. And you can start by losing the inefficient, ineffective scheduling system you’ve relied on for years, and create a system that actually works, based on real numbers and practice goals.
The First Steps
Ready to start? First, gather your team members and identify attainable goals, both as a practice and as individuals. Make sure every team member understands how their daily efforts effect the practice’s ability to achieve these goals.
Next, determine how much money it takes to realize your ideal lifestyle, and how many hours a week you’re willing to work to get there. Then factor in all your practice-related overhead costs, from attending CE to paying your team members.
Once you define your personal and professional goals as well as the financial realities that come with running a dental practice, you and your team members will have a clearer picture of how much revenue you need to bring in each day, and that number should dictate the schedule. You’ll have clear goals to achieve, and your schedule will serve as your roadmap to success.
Manage the Schedule
Here’s an example of what I mean. Maybe your goal is to earn $1 million a year. After you take out 33% for hygiene you’re left with $670,000, which works out to be $13,958 per week, assuming you take four weeks of vacation. If you work 32 hours a week, you’ll need to bring in $436 an hour to meet your goal.
Let’s say you charge $1,200 for a crown, which takes two appointments for a total of two hours to place (if you can do it in less time, even better). This rate exceeds your hourly goal by $236, and could even be applied to any shortfalls. While you’re not placing crowns every hour of every day, you have to leave room in your schedule for these types of procedures. Don’t overbook hygiene, and please, please stop scheduling appointments six months out.
Use the formula below to help determine the rate of hourly production and whether your practice is meeting production objectives:
1. The clinical assistant logs exactly how long it takes to perform a procedure, including time for all necessary appointments.
Knowing this target focuses your team and shifts your practice’s atmosphere from pressured to productive. You’ve taken control of your time and your schedule, the very foundation of your practice’s success. This enables you and your team members to deliver the best possible care without burning out, and sets you on a clear path toward success and profitability.
Next week, I tell you how to avoid the three most common scheduling mistakes.
For more information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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