8.26.16 Issue #755 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Kelly Lennier
Senior Consultant
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Why You Should Offer Evening and Weekend Hours
By Kelly Lennier, Senior Consultant

There’s no doubt your patients are busy people. They’re always on the go with commitments to work, family and friends, making it difficult for them to find time for a dental appointment. To make matters worse, most dental offices only offer appointments from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some even closing their doors over the lunch hour. This might seem like the best schedule for your office to keep, but these hours simply aren’t convenient for many of your patients.

Those with day jobs often find it difficult to take time off work, so if they do make an appointment, they end up cancelling or not showing up, leaving you with last-minute holes to fill and hurting your production. Others won’t make an appointment with you at all and instead opt to look for a practice with more flexible hours.

Dentistry is competitive and if you want a successful practice, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself from other dentists in your community. Offering more flexible hours is one way you can do that. It’s also a great way to attract new patients and boost production numbers if your practice is struggling. Adding alternative hours will increase profits in your hygiene department and show patients you’re willing to do what it takes to provide them with the care they need, whether that means opening early, staying late or coming in on the weekends. 

How to Get Started
I always laugh when I see marketing pieces touting convenient hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. That might be convenient for you, but it’s certainly not convenient for your patients who work those very hours – which most of them likely do. But before you make huge adjustments to your office hours, find out what hours actually are convenient for your patients, then adjust your hours from there. You can ask patients as they’re scheduling appointments if they’d prefer early morning, evening or weekend hours, as well as send out surveys via text and email to get patient feedback.

You also can talk with patients about your office hours over the phone. For example, when your Patient Coordinator is calling past due patients to let them know it’s time for their professional cleaning and a patient says it’s just not possible to take time off work right now, don’t hang up the phone and move on to the next patient. Instead, take the opportunity to ask what time would work for the patient. Here’s an example of what to say:

“Mr. Hopkins, we are concerned that because of our current office hours, you are limited to the time you have for your doctor and dental appointments. If we considered offering alternative hours, what would work best for you?”

Adjustments to Consider
While many dentists schedule appointments between 9 and 5 with a break for lunch, you might want to consider working what I call the “prime times,” which is 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Now I’m not suggesting you do this every day. Try it out one day a week and see how it goes. It might be challenging to find team members willing to work those hours, but some might actually prefer it. While you’re working a later day, keep in mind you have plenty of time in the middle of the day to run errands or even just relax.

Saturday Hours
When you start asking patients about convenient times, you’ll soon discover many of them would prefer to come in on Saturdays because they don’t have to take time off work. I suggest you try opening from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays for large cases and hygiene. Some states don’t require the dentist to be on-site for hygiene visits as long as the dentist sees the patient once in a 12-month period. If you don’t want to work every Saturday and this is something your state allows, consider opening your office with two hygienists and one front desk coordinator a few Saturdays a month.

If your practice is struggling, offering alternative office hours just might give you the boost you need. I know many dentists who have adjusted their schedules and found high demand for their evening and Saturday appointment times, leaving them with very few unscheduled units. If you work later or open earlier just a few days a week, you’ll set your practice apart from others that don’t offer flexible hours and you’ll attract busy patients who don’t have time to schedule appointments during the workday. By simply adjusting your schedule, you’ll grow your practice and your bottom line.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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