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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Fix Production Woes with These Tips
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Dentist Case Study #103

The doctor’s concerns: “Last minute cancellations and no-shows are at an all-time high in my practice. To make matters worse, fewer patients are accepting treatment. As a result, both team morale and my bottom line are taking a hit.”

Unfortunately, many practices are plagued by low production numbers—and they have no idea why. Broken appointments wreak havoc on their schedule on a regular basis, while even patients they think are ready to go forward with treatment never schedule. This can be pretty stressful, leaving dentists struggling to pay their bills. In this case, our doctor was growing more and more concerned about the future of his practice.

That’s why he came to us. We helped him reduce the number of broken appointments he deals with each day and gave him proven strategies to boost case acceptance. Here’s a closer look at the problems he was facing and the solutions he implemented:

Broken appointments
It got to the point where 2-3 patients a day were either cancelling at the last minute or not showing up for their appointments at all. Not only that, he typically had 3-4 openings a day in his hygiene schedule. With those numbers, it’s no surprise this practice wasn’t meeting its production goals. But why was this happening? Even though team members called to confirm appointments with patients two days in advance, many of them didn’t call back—so they never actually confirmed they’d be there.

The solution? If you leave a voicemail, ask patients to call back to verbally confirm, with the understanding the appointment will be canceled without that confirmation. It’s also a good idea to ask patients how they prefer to confirm appointments with the office. Keep in mind many patients would rather respond to a text or an email than take time out of their busy day to make a phone call. If you make it easy for them, patients will be more likely to confirm the appointment and then actually show up.

Patients just aren’t accepting treatment
Our doctor couldn’t understand why his case acceptance numbers were so low. After going over recommendations with patients, it always seemed like they understood the need for treatment and were ready to schedule. Unfortunately, most never did.

The problem? The doctor was only spending about 10 minutes talking with patients about treatment chairside. While he thought that was plenty of time, it really wasn’t, and patients left with many unanswered questions and concerns.

We suggested he hire a Treatment Coordinator instead to take over case presentations for all producers. This team member could spend as much time as necessary educating patients about their condition and the recommended treatment, giving them the opportunity to ask any questions they have in a comfortable environment.

We also discovered no one from the office was following up after the initial presentation. Now, the Treatment Coordinator calls two days later, ready to answer any additional questions and to get the patient on the schedule.

Offering third party financing like CareCredit is another way to encourage patients to accept treatment—and is another strategy this doctor used to improve case acceptance. Many patients say no simply because they can’t afford it. CareCredit gives them the ability to pay a little at a time, which makes the cost much more manageable.

Patients can’t find appointment times that work for their schedule
This doctor kept hearing the same thing from his patients: “I just can’t take the time off work for this treatment. Do you have any evening or weekend hours?” At the time he didn’t. Now he does, and it’s made a huge difference in his case acceptance numbers.

Remember, your patients are busy people. The more you can accommodate their schedules, the more likely they’ll be to accept treatment. Stay open late a few days a week or offer early morning hours so patients can come in before the work day. Consider opening on Saturday mornings to give patients another option that might fit their schedule.

When the doctor implemented these changes into his practice, he saw a huge difference. Fewer patients flaked out on their appointment times or canceled at the last minute. More patients began to schedule treatment, and he even got a few referrals thanks to his convenient Saturday morning hours. Now, instead of worrying about how he’s going to pay his bills, this doctor’s practice is finally flourishing. Implement these changes into your practice and yours will do the same.

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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