5 Ways to Set Your Scheduling Coordinator Up for Success
You’ve finally done it. You’ve hired Kelly, a top-notch Scheduling Coordinator, and you’re confident she’s exactly what your practice needs. She’ll be the sole person in charge of setting your schedule, eliminating the almost daily chaos and frustration you and your team members have come to know so well.
This is a great first step, but if you want your new Scheduling Coordinator to help your practice reach its full potential, you have to set her up for success. You can’t expect her to read your mind, or simply tell her it’s her job to keep your schedule full. You have to empower her to take complete control of the schedule, and set clear expectations. When you do, you’ll not only enjoy less stressful days, you’ll start to notice a growing bottom line.
How, you ask? Here are a few tips I’ve put together to help ensure your Scheduling Coordinator is prepared to schedule your practice for success and profitability.
1. Provide a job description. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s important. Create a written job description for your Scheduling Coordinator (as well as for every other position in your practice) and make sure it outlines job duties, expectations and performance measurements. If you need help putting a job description together, visit my website HERE. You’ll find job descriptions for every positon. They may need to be altered to fit your practice, but they’ll give you a good start.
2. Provide training to meet daily production goals. Your Scheduling Coordinator shouldn’t just schedule your days to keep you busy; this person should schedule your days to keep you productive. If you haven’t already, determine how much money you need to bring in to meet both your personal and professional goals. Factor in practice overhead costs as well as how many hours a week you’re willing to work to meet those goals. The number you come up with should dictate your schedule.
3. Communicate procedure times. Unless you like dealing with stress and aggravation, don’t leave your Scheduling Coordinator guessing about procedure times. If you do, you’ll be scheduled for 60 minutes here and 90 minutes there, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a scheduling nightmare. Tell your Scheduling Coordinator exactly how much time you and your assistant need to complete a procedure. Let me give you an example.
You examine a hygiene patient and determine the patient needs two fillings and a crown. You then tell your hygienist how much time you’ll need to complete the treatment, and she passes that information on to the Scheduling Coordinator. From there, the coordinator marks the procedure in the schedule, using different colors for both the doctor and the assistant. Seems simple, but it’s an important step that will help make sure you’re never double-booked. It also helps ensure you have enough time with every patient and can focus on providing the best care possible, instead of worrying about how far behind you’ve fallen.
4. Stress the importance of booking new patients. When potential new patients call your practice to schedule an appointment, they want to come in as soon as possible, not in three, four or even five weeks. But if you are booking patients months out, your Scheduling Coordinator will be under the illusion the schedule is jam packed, leaving no room for new patients any time soon.
Make sure your Scheduling Coordinator understands the importance of leaving room in the schedule for new patients, but don’t just throw out a random number. Instead, determine how much time you actually need to allocate to new patients in your schedule. How? Look at new patient activity over the last six months. Let’s say you treated 60 patients in that timeframe, which is an average of 10 patients per month or 2.5 patients a week. That’s how much time you should reserve in your schedule to handle new patient demand.
New patients are the bread and butter of your practice. If you can’t fit them into your schedule when they call, that clearly tells them you don’t value their business. Even if they do make an appointment for three months down the road, I can guarantee they’re going to keep looking for a dentist who isn’t quite so busy.
5. Train your Scheduling Coordinator to confirm appointments. You can’t just schedule appointments and forget about them. The Scheduling Coordinator needs to be responsible for confirming every appointment, which in turn will reduce the cancellations and no-shows that plague every practice.
Patients should be contacted 48 hours before their appointment, whether it’s by phone call, text message or email. When scheduling appointments, patients should be asked which method they prefer. If the patient prefers a phone call, make sure your coordinator knows not to leave a message and to actually talk to the patient to confirm. This will help reduce cancellations and no-shows, as well as the chaos and lost revenues that go along with them.
You’re ready to take back your schedule, and hiring a Scheduling Coordinator is a great first step. Arm this person with the tools and training needed to succeed, and your practice will soon reap the benefits.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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