Do You Have Too Many Hands In Your Schedule?
As much as you’d like to, you simply can’t deny it. You know your schedule is a mess. Some days you run from patient to patient at break neck speed, doing your best to stay on track (and usually failing), while other days you struggle to fill the down time caused by cancellations, no-shows and good old fashioned poor planning. You never know what to expect, and this chaotic schedule has you stressed out and bleeding money.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way, doctor. Your schedule should be a well-oiled machine that keeps you on track to meet daily production goals, not a hodgepodge of names, dates and procedures. Not sure how to make this happen in your practice? Start by designating one person to take control of the schedule, and then empower that team member to fix it.
That’s right, just one team member should be responsible for filling the schedule. Now you might pride yourself on the fact that your team is cross-trained, that anyone can handle scheduling patients whether it’s the hygienist, the dental assistant or a member of the front office staff. But the fact is, this system is failing you. If anyone can handle scheduling duties, then no one is actually accountable for keeping the schedule full, and that’s causing huge problems in your practice.
Think about it. How many times have you heard a team member say, “Oh, I didn’t realize that was my job,” or “I thought Megan said she was going to do that?” If you don’t give team members clear expectations, they won’t take ownership of any of the systems. And that’s when tasks, such as scheduling treatment, start falling through the cracks.
The “it’s everyone’s job” approach accomplishes one thing: a total lack of accountability. No one has any specific duties or performance measurements to meet, so nothing gets done, at least not properly. No one takes pride or ownership in the systems, because why should they?
Let’s take scheduling patients for example. If scheduling is everyone’s job but no one’s responsibility, no one is going to take notice when the schedule isn’t filled to meet production goals, and there will be no plan in place to handle cancellations and no-shows. They have no reason to because you haven’t made anyone accountable. So no one is focused on calling patients to schedule treatment and everyone is scrambling to fill gaps when they pop up, which is likely happening often if you don’t have a dedicated Scheduling Coordinator tasked with not only scheduling patients, but also confirming appointments.
Now, let’s talk about training. While a cross-trained team seems attractive, there usually isn’t much training involved at all. I’ve seen it again and again during my more than 30 years as a consultant. Dentists with the “it’s everyone’s job” mentality just expect employees to do what needs to be done, whatever that happens to be. So team members aren’t really trained on anything specific, just given a loose overview of everything that could possibly ever need to be done in the practice. They’re left to figure it out on their own. There’s no structure, just chaos – which is why your schedule is in such bad shape.
Many doctors don’t like to hear this, but not only do you need to designate someone to take over the scheduling system, you also have to create a job description for this important team member. While it’s true that too many hands in the schedule will do nothing but hurt your practice, hiring a Scheduling Coordinator won’t do you much good if you don’t communicate your expectations.
As the practice CEO, you have to make sure team members know exactly what systems they’re accountable for and your expectations for those systems. If you want your Scheduling Coordinator to make five calls a day and successfully schedule treatment through 35% of those calls, make sure this person knows that is a critical part of his or her role, and how it will help the practice meet its full potential. Put these performance measurements in the job description, and hold your Scheduling Coordinator accountable when they’re not met. Your team will know exactly what is needed to help you succeed, and how important their contribution is to the practice.
Your schedule can’t be left open for just anyone to fill when someone happens to have the time to make a few phone calls. If you want to achieve practice success and profitability, you have to designate a Scheduling Coordinator who knows how to schedule to meet daily production goals, and who is accountable for the system’s success. Once you do, you’ll notice smoother days and a much more robust bottom line.
If you’d like to learn more about how your schedule might be holding you back from reaching your full potential, click HERE to take a free Scheduling Assessment.Next week, 5 ways to set your Scheduling Coordinator up for success.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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