Is Your Schedule a Source of Frustration? Here's why

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Many dentists I work with feel like their schedule is out of control. Instead of guiding their day, it leaves them stressed out and frustrated. At any given time it might be filled with multiple openings, double bookings and inaccurate procedure times—which isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

Your schedule should keep you on track to meeting daily production goals. If handled properly, it will have your practice running like a well-oiled machine. But if it’s mismanaged, you’ll find yourself dealing with broken appointments and chaos most days of the week.

Any of this sounding like your practice? Then it’s time to make some changes to take back control of your schedule. To do that, it’s important to understand why it’s become such a source of frustration. Here are some of the most common reasons your schedule is holding you back, along with a few tips to help you make the changes you need to streamline your days and reduce your stress level—while also boosting your bottom line.

There are multiple hands in the schedule. It might seem like a good idea to have more than one person manage the schedule, but trust me, it isn’t. Everyone has a different way of making additions to the schedule, and this just leads to a lot of confusion. Instead of a well-managed schedule, you end up with a hodge-podge of names and random procedure times that don’t make any sense. No wonder your schedule is a source of stress.

To avoid this, you really need to make one team member accountable for the schedule. If you don’t, who’s going to notice when it isn’t filled to meet production goals, or come up with a plan to deal with last-minute cancellations and no-shows? That’s right. No one.

I suggest hiring a Scheduling Coordinator and empowering this employee to take over the schedule. Once on board, train this team member to schedule you (and all producers for that matter) to meet daily production goals, not to keep you busy. Provide proper training and the tools your coordinator needs to succeed, and you’ll notice your days are a lot less stressful and a lot more productive.

You haven’t determined daily production goals. This is a big one. You can’t train your Scheduling Coordinator to schedule you to meet daily production goals if you haven’t set them. If you don’t have these in place, now is the time to do it.

How? I recommend sitting down with team members to discuss where you want daily practice production to be. Base this number on how much money you need to live the lifestyle you want, and how many hours you’re willing to work each week to make it happen. It’s also important to talk with team members about practice and individual goals, and to align the two. Make sure they understand how important their contributions are to practice success. This will motivate them to meet and even exceed their goals.

Once daily production goals are in place, your Scheduling Coordinator can schedule you to meet them—which is an important step toward streamlining your days while also growing your bottom line.

There’s no room for new patients in the schedule. New patients don’t want to wait four to six weeks for their first appointment. If that’s what they’re told when they call in, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll keep looking until they find a dentist who can see them sooner—even if they opt to schedule an appointment with your practice. They likely have no intention of keeping that appointment, but want it on the books in case they can’t find something sooner.

Unfortunately, this is what happens when you don’t leave room in your schedule for new patients. Remember, while it’s important to keep your current patients happy and loyal to the practice, you also need to attract new ones if you’re going to thrive. Making it easy for them to schedule helps with that.

Now I’m not suggesting you leave a random number of slots open for new patients and hope they get filled each week. Determine how much time you actually need to allocate to new patients in your schedule. To do this, look at new patient activity over the last six months. If you treated 60 patients, which is an average of 10 patients a month or 2.5 patients a week, that’s how much time you should leave in your schedule to meet new patient demand. If that number changes, you always can make adjustments.

A chaotic schedule leads to extra stress and frustration, and costs you money. It leaves everyone in the practice feeling miserable. When your schedule is out of control, it holds you back. Now is the time to make the necessary changes to gain control.

If you need more guidance to get your schedule on track, feel free to reach out. I’m happy to help you streamline your days so you can finally start meeting production goals and growing practice revenues.

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