What Is Your Forecast For The New Year?
Another year has flown by. They say time flies when you are having fun – I must be having a really good time then! As the year comes to a close, I am making plans to do year-end numbers and analyze what has been happening with the practice these past months to create a plan for next year. Do you know what your forecast is for the New Year?
The dental hygiene department is a main driving force for the entire practice when it comes to keeping the doctor’s chair full. Hopefully you have been tracking your open time, cancelation time, and no-shows over the last year. It is important to know your history in addition to your possible future business in order to determine your forecast.
How many new patients did you see last year, and how many did you retain? How many patients did you lose? What is the projected number of hygiene hours that your practice will need in 2017? Do you have too many hygiene hours open in the schedule or possibly not enough scheduled? If you don’t plan accordingly, your hygiene department may end up being a profit drain instead of a money-maker.
Looking at the history of your practice and knowing how many actual hygiene hours were needed the year before is important. You will also want to project one year into the future to decide how many hygiene hours may be needed. Allow for loss of patients and growth of the practice.
I can’t tell you how many new patients we have welcomed to our practice who were not able to get appointments at their former dentist’s office. It can be difficult, but if you really look at your numbers, you should be able to come close to “perfect scheduling” while still allowing your practice to grow. It is always recommended to have a plan in case the practice grows quicker than anticipated, but you don’t ever want to increase hours in the hygiene department based on how booked your schedule is. The only time you want to add actual hours to your hygiene schedule is when the numbers show the need – not the false security of a schedule that is booked in advance, but could fall apart in the morning when the front office checks messages on the phone.
You may want to have your hygiene department give you an idea of when they will be taking vacation days next year, and go ahead and book them out for those dates. Request that any changes be made far enough in advance so the front office has plenty of time to fill the schedule. Look at how many hours each hygienist will be working based on time off, holidays and the regular schedule, and add all of this into the department as a whole. Then look at how many hours were worked last year by the hygiene department, and how many of those hours were filled with patients in the chair. If you have 400 hours in next year’s schedule but your hygiene department only saw 300 hours of actual treatment hours last year, then some changes need to be made.
If you are a prophylaxis based practice, you may want to consider what you can do to become a more periodontally based practice. Are your patients on the best recall for their overall oral health? What were the trends of last year?
Look at the projected number of appointments needed in your practice based on reactivating patients from recall, new patients, root planing, and your projected number of existing patients. How does this number compare to the past? Do you need to cut hygiene hours? Do you need to add hygiene hours? If you need to cut hygiene hours, is there a hygienist who may want to drop some hours, or is there a day of the week you may take off one day a month? If you need to add hours, do you have a hygienist who wants to increase their hours, or do you have a hygienist in mind you would like to hire?
It’s never too late to look at the numbers and start projecting your forecast for the next year based on trends. This really is something you should be looking at on a monthly basis. A lot of the planning should start in June, due to patients booking six months in advance.
Here’s to another year, may all of us be successful in the paths we choose to take! The next year will be over again before we know it.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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