How Your Schedule Is Hurting Your Practice
If you’re like most dentists, you probably don’t put much thought into how your daily schedule comes together. You know it typically keeps you quite busy, except when cancellations and no-shows leave you with gaping holes. Those days are pretty chaotic and stressful, but then again so are the days you have a full schedule. You usually don’t have time for a break, let alone time to eat lunch, and you find yourself running from patient to patient just trying to keep up.
If this all sounds normal to you, it’s time to make some changes to how your schedule is put together. Your schedule shouldn’t be a source of stress and frustration. Instead, it should keep you productive and on track to meet daily goals. A hodge-podge of names and random appointment times isn’t going to get you there. In fact, a mismanaged schedule isn’t just causing you and your team stress. It’s hurting your practice and keeping you from meeting your full potential. Not convinced? Read on.
A poorly managed schedule costs you patients. Your patients are busy people. Most of them struggle to squeeze dental appointments into their busy lives, and they certainly don’t want to spend their afternoon waiting for you because you’ve fallen behind schedule, especially if it’s happened before.
If you keep your patients waiting, they’re going to be pretty annoyed when you finally do appear. They may even be making plans to find a new dental home. And because you’re still behind, you’re not going to spend much time getting to know them or providing education. They’ll be able to tell you’re in a hurry, and won’t bother to ask any questions. Chances are they’re not going to accept any treatment you recommend, and you can forget about them referring you to family and friends, costing you thousands of dollars in potential revenue.
Yes, even after you turn your schedule into a well-oiled machine there will be days you fall behind. But patients will be much more forgiving if it only happens once in a while. You have to take steps to fix this now, or your patients will start turning to the practice down the street.
If your office is known for long wait times, it’s likely because you’re overbooked and trying to follow a schedule riddled with inaccurate appointment times. When the Scheduling Coordinator only blocks out 60 minutes for a procedure that takes 90, it’s going to put you behind for the rest of your day. How can you fix this? Communicate.
Make sure your Scheduling Coordinator knows exactly how long both you and your assistant need to complete each procedure. Don’t play the guessing game when developing the schedule. Train your coordinator to mark the two times in different colors to avoid any confusion. This will not only save everyone a lot of frustration down the road, it will help keep you from being double-booked.
A hodge-podge schedule leaves little room for new patients. When potential new patients call your office to schedule an appointment, they usually want to come in as soon as possible. If they’re told they can’t see the doctor for weeks or months, I can guarantee you that even if they schedule an appointment, they’ll start looking for a doctor who can see them sooner right after they hang up.
New patients are critical to your practice’s success, and that means you have to leave room for them in your schedule. If you don’t, it’s costing you thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. Sit down with your Scheduling Coordinator and figure out the average number of new patients you see each month, then block out enough time in the schedule.
To get this number, I suggest looking at new patient activity over the last six months. If you saw 60 new patients over that period, that works out to 10 per month and 2.5 per week. Reserve at least that much time in your schedule to handle immediate demand. If demand increases, make the necessary adjustments.
Another way to make room for new patients, as well as current patients who want to schedule treatment, is to stop relying solely on pre-appointing. This gives you the illusion of a full schedule, when in reality many of the scheduled patients won’t show up for their appointment times. Think about it. Do you know what you’re doing on a Tuesday six months from now at 2pm? Neither do your patients.
A chaotic schedule keeps you busy, but doesn’t help you meet daily production goals. To create a successful, thriving dental practice, you and your team members must focus on meeting daily production goals. How do you determine those goals? Sit down with your team members and decide how much money you need to bring in each day to cover your financial obligations as well as meet your personal financial goals. Make sure your Scheduling Coordinator understands the need to schedule your days to meet production goals, not to keep you busy. Provide the training and tools necessary to succeed, and you’ll find that not only do your days run smoother, but you’re actually bringing in more money.
Managing the schedule can be a difficult task, but it’s key to your practice’s success. A chaotic schedule does nothing but cause you stress and cost you money. Want more details on how your schedule might be keeping you from true success and profitability? Click here to take my free assessment, and then let me know how I can help.
Next week, 4 ways to take back control of your schedule.
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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