Ignoring Recall? How itís Hurting Your Practice
Patient retention rates are down and cancellations and no-shows are at an all-time high. Production numbers are not even close to where they should be, and your bottom line is suffering. You’re stuck in a rut, and have no idea how to pull yourself out.
If you feel like I just described your practice, it’s time to make some changes – and I suggest starting with recall. Yes, I said recall. While most dentists ignore this vital system, investing in recall is one of the best, most effective ways to increase practice revenues. Most dentists send out generic recall reminders and then call it a day, but trust me, that’s not nearly enough. You need to make recall a priority in your practice if you want to increase your production numbers and grow your bottom line.
Still not convinced you need to revamp your recall system? Here are a few ways ignoring your recall system is hurting your practice that just might change your mind.
It’s costing you patients. If you want a successful, profitable practice, your patient retention rate should be hovering at around 85-95%. That isn’t the case at most practices. In fact, I recently conducted a survey that looked at dental practices in business for an average of 22 years. You know what it revealed? A patient retention ratio of 31%. That means if you have 1,000 patients on file, only 300 of these patients are actually active.
To raise that number, consider hiring a Patient Coordinator and tasking that employee with reenergizing your recall system. Have this new team member, armed with a written script and the most up-to-date patient information, call past due patients to get them on the schedule. But don’t stop there. Send patients professional marketing materials and educate them about the services you provide and the importance of caring for their oral health.
When you actually reach out to recall patients, they’ll be much more likely to come back – and that will do wonders for your production numbers and your bottom line.
You’re not getting referred. Only happy patients who trust you with their care refer you to family and friends – a free form of marketing every practice needs to help them grow. But if patient retention is down, fewer patients are referring you, costing you potential loyal patients and who knows how much in lost revenues.
When you reach out to recall patients and educate them about the importance of dental care, they’re more likely to feel a connection to your practice. That connection is what keeps them coming back, making them loyal patients who are more likely to refer.
Cancellations and no-shows are eating into your bottom line. If broken appointments are common in your practice, it’s a good sign something is wrong with your recall system. Why? Part of the problem stems from pre-appointing.
Like most dentists, you’ve likely always scheduled appointments six months out. But that doesn’t mean it’s an effective way to manage your schedule and operate your recall system. Most patients have no idea what they’re doing six months from now on a Tuesday. So even if they schedule an appointment, chances are they’ll forget or something else will come up that prompts them to cancel at the last minute.
Another problem with pre-appointing? It gives you the illusion your schedule is full, when it really isn’t. That means there’s no reason to work the recall system, except of course when those appointments fall through and wreak havoc on your day. The other issue? Patients who try to schedule treatment can’t get in to see the doctor right away, which is a good way to send them to the practice down the street.
Instead of relying on pre-appointing alone, consider offering some patients the option to be contacted two to three weeks before they’re due for a recall appointment. This frees slots up for patients who are ready for treatment, and helps reduce broken appointments – as well as the stress and frustration that come with them.
Production numbers are down. You can’t reach your daily production goals if patients aren’t in the chair. This is a frustrating scenario for you and your team members, and of course is costing your practice money. When you invest in recall, you’ll soon find more patients are scheduling treatment. This helps boost team morale, and, of course, your bottom line.
Ignoring your recall system isn’t doing your practice any good. In fact, it’s causing damage. Investing in your recall system will help you turn it around, increasing practice production and profits.
Next week: How to make recall a priority.
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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