4.3.15 Issue #682 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

4 Ways to Take Back Control of Your Schedule
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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It’s fair to say your schedule is pretty chaotic. One day you’re running from patient to patient doing your best to keep up, and the next your team is sent into panic mode as they scramble to fill holes from cancellations and no-shows, leaving you with down time you’d rather spend seeing patients. Your mess of a schedule is causing you undue stress and frustration, and costing you more money than you care to think about.

This is no way to run a dental practice. As CEO, you need to find a way to take control of your schedule and get your practice back on the path to success and profitability. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here to help, and have put together four tips to help you manage your schedule, increase production and grow your bottom line.
1. Hire a Scheduling Coordinator. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a Scheduling Coordinator to your payroll. Empower this person to take control of your schedule. Provide a clear, detailed job description that lays out your expectations. Make the Scheduling Coordinator accountable for this system, and train him or her to schedule in a way that will keep you and all producers in your practice productive, not just busy.

If you task one team member with managing the schedule, give that person the tools and training necessary to succeed and provide clear communication about procedure times. You’ll soon notice your schedule is more streamlined and your days are far less stressful. Even better, you’ll also notice a spike in practice productivity and revenue.

2. Set daily production goals. If you’re going to tell the Scheduling Coordinator to schedule you to meet production goals, you have to actually set production goals. And this isn’t just a random number, or your best guess on how much money you want to bring in each day. It should be based on your personal and professional financial realities.

How do you determine this number? Start by sitting down with your team members to identify attainable goals, both as a practice and as individuals. Make sure every team member knows how their daily efforts effect the practice’s ability to meet these goals, and how important their contributions are to the practice’s success.

During this meeting, determine how much money you need to live your ideal lifestyle, and how many hours you’re willing to work each week to get there. Then factor in the financial obligations that come with owning a dental practice, and you’ll be left with the number that should dictate your schedule. Not only that, you’ll have clear goals to achieve, and the knowledge needed to turn your schedule into your roadmap to success.

3. Confirm all appointments. When a patient cancels or just doesn’t show up for an appointment, it wreaks havoc on your schedule. Your Scheduling Coordinator must race to find another patient to take the spot, and you’re left wondering how you’re going to meet that day’s production goals.

Confirming appointments two days in advance will help reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows in your practice, saving you from the stress and lost production these broken appointments cause. Make sure your Scheduling Coordinator is responsible for confirming appointments and finding out if patients prefer phone call, text message or email confirmations. And remember, it’s not enough to leave a voicemail or a message with a family member; the Scheduling Coordinator must actually talk to the patient to confirm. This will go a long way in curbing cancellations and no-shows in your practice, and the many headaches that go along with them.

4. Resist the urge to schedule dream days. I’m sure you’d love to fill out your own schedule if you could, blocking out time for those procedures you enjoy most and that bring in the most money. You may even be tempted to tell your Scheduling Coordinator to block out a certain number of crown and bridge appointments each day. But if that number isn’t based on practice data, all you’re doing is creating gaps in the schedule that your coordinator will have to scramble to fill – turning your dream day into a total nightmare.

If you’re going to block out sections of your schedule for certain procedures, you have to be realistic. Focus on what the practice can actually achieve, not what you’d like to achieve. I recommend calculating how many crown and bridge procedures you’ve completed in the last six months, then dividing that number by the number of days worked. This will tell you how many spots you can reserve for that procedure. While this number might not be exact, it will get you much closer to patient demand than just guessing.

If your schedule is a mess, it’s costing you money. Mismanaged schedules do nothing but cause undue stress and frustration; they certainly don’t help move your practice forward. Now is the time to take back control and realize the benefits that come when your schedule is streamlined and focused on meeting production goals. You’ll be less stressed, your practice will be more efficient and you’ll have a much healthier bottom line. 

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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