5 Ways to Streamline Your Chaotic Schedule
You really can’t remember the last time your schedule actually went as planned. On your busiest days, it doesn’t take long for you to fall behind and for patients to grow more and more annoyed as they wait for you in the reception area. Then there are the days plagued by last-minute cancellations and no-shows, leaving you with extra time to fill and keeping you from meeting production goals. You truly never know what to expect, which is both stressful and costly.
A poorly managed schedule can do a lot of damage to a practice. It leads to stress, low team morale and it hurts your bottom line. Streamlining your schedule will not only make your days more pleasant, it will help you boost production as well as practice revenues. The problem is, most dentists don’t know how to fix their chaotic schedules. That’s what I’m here for. Here are five of my tips:
1. Put one person in charge of your schedule. If multiple people are scheduling appointments in your practice, it’s no wonder your days feel a bit crazed. There’s no consistency and no one tasked with making sure you reach daily production goals. That’s why I suggest you hire a Scheduling Coordinator who you empower to take over the schedule. Make your expectations clear through a detailed job description, and provide this new hire with the tools and training necessary to succeed. Your days will be much less stressful as well as more predictable.
2. Establish daily production goals. Hiring a Scheduling Coordinator represents a great step toward streamlining your schedule, but this team member won’t be very effective if he or she only schedules you and other practice producers to stay busy. Keep in mind that busy doesn’t mean productive. That’s why it’s so important to sit down with your team to set production goals and train your coordinator to schedule you to meet those goals.
How, you ask? Determine how much money you need to lead your ideal lifestyle, and how many hours a week you’re willing to work to get there. Next, factor in the practice’s financial obligations. This will give you the number that should dictate your schedule, and the knowledge you need to turn your once chaotic schedule into a roadmap to success.
3. Communicate procedure times. If your Scheduling Coordinator is left to play the guessing game on procedure times, I can pretty much guarantee your schedule will be a mess. Scheduling 30 minute procedures here and 60 minute procedures there is a surefire way to send your day out of whack, especially if some of that scheduled treatment actually requires 90 minutes.
The good news? This is an easy fix. If you and your assistant always communicate accurate procedure times to your Scheduling Coordinator, he or she will be able to allot the proper amount of time in the schedule. No more guessing, and no more falling behind because the coordinator’s guess was way off.
4. Always confirm appointments. Part of your Scheduling Coordinator’s job should be to confirm appointments with every patient. This will help reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows you deal with, making your days less stressful and enabling you to meet production goals.
Your coordinator should confirm appointments two days in advance, either via phone, text message or email, depending on which form of communication the patient prefers.
5. Don’t schedule dream days. This is a common mistake I see many dentists make. They decide they prefer to perform certain types of revenue-generating procedures, and tell their Scheduling Coordinator to block out time for these procedures each week. The problem? Just because you enjoy crown and bridge work, for example, doesn’t mean you have enough demand to fill all the slots you left open. That leaves you with gaps in the schedule your coordinator will have to scramble to fill, making it difficult for you to meet your daily production goals.
If you’re going to block out sections of your schedule for certain procedures, you have to base that decision on reality – not what you wish was reality. Let’s say you’d like to block out time for crown and bridge work. Calculate how many crown and bridge procedures you’ve completed in the last six months, then divide that by the number of days you worked. This will tell you how many spots you can reserve without creating a scheduling nightmare. The number might not be exact, but it will get you much closer to patient demand than simply guessing.
Bottom line: If your schedule is a mess, it’s costing you money. These tips will help you get it back on track. Need more guidance? Feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
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