How to Fix Your Schedule
You’re finally ready to admit it. Your schedule is a mess, and it’s causing you and your team members nothing but stress and frustration. Yes, you know it’s time to make some changes to streamline your schedule and finally meet production goals, but if you’re like most dentists, you have no idea where to start. Don’t worry, that’s where I come in. I’ve been a dental consultant for more than 30 years, and I know what it takes to turn a chaotic schedule into a productive schedule.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to fix your schedule, reduce stress levels and grow your bottom line.
Hire a Scheduling Coordinator. If you have multiple team members scheduling patients, it’s no wonder your schedule is a mess. While you might like the idea of cross training your team, they can’t all have their hands in your schedule. This will just lead to confusion and frustration, not to mention chaotic days filled with inaccurate procedure times, double bookings and broken appointments.
Instead of expecting multiple team members to manage your schedule, hire a Scheduling Coordinator who understands the importance of scheduling your days to meet production goals. If your Scheduling Coordinator is simply focused on keeping you busy, I can guarantee your schedule is a mess and your bottom line is suffering. Give this team member the tools and training needed to succeed – which includes a detailed job description and clear direction from you.
Train your Scheduling Coordinator to confirm every appointment, using each patient’s preferred method of communication, and put a plan in place to handle broken appointments. Truly make this person accountable for the schedule, and your days will finally become more streamlined and stress-free.
Communicate procedure times. You don’t want your Scheduling Coordinator randomly scheduling 60 minute appointments here and 90 minute appointments there, but that’s exactly what will happen if you don’t communicate. Trust me, leaving your Scheduling Coordinator to play the guessing game will only lead to headache and stress.
Tell your Scheduling Coordinator exactly how much time you and your assistant need for every procedure. Your coordinator should mark the procedure in the schedule using different colors for you and your assistant. This will help make sure you’re never double-booked, while also ensuring you have enough time to provide every patient with the best care possible.
Stop scheduling dream days. You love performing crown and bridge work, so you tell your Scheduling Coordinator to block out a certain number of those appointments per day. The problem? You don’t have enough crown and bridge patients to fill the open slots, turning these so-called dream days into nightmares.
Before you block out sections of your schedule for specific procedures, you must determine how many patients will actually take those appointment times. Be realistic and base that number on historical data, not the number you wish your practice could reach.
How can you determine this number? Calculate how many crown and bridge procedures you’ve completed in the last six months, then divide that number by the number of days worked. This will tell you how many spots you can reserve for that procedure. This number might not be exact, but it will get you much closer to patient demand than simply basing the number on what you’d like to see your practice achieve.
Don’t rely on pre-appointing alone. If you’re like most dentists, you’ve probably scheduled patients six months out for years. It might be time to consider a new approach. Why? This outdated practice could be costing you thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
Most patients don’t know what they’re doing six months from now at 10 a.m., which means they have no idea if they can actually make the appointment they just scheduled with your office. Six months go by and they either forget about the appointment or decide they have more important tasks to complete that day, and they simply don’t show up. That leaves you with last-minute holes to fill, and lost revenue if you can’t fill them.
Not only that, when new patients call to schedule an appointment, your coordinator often can’t get them in to see the doctor for four, five or even six weeks. Why? The schedule is “full” of pre-appointed patients who are likely to cancel at the last minute or not show up at all. Instead of waiting, many of these patients will keep looking for a dentist who can fit them in sooner – and that, dear doctor, is costing you money.
Not ready to give up pre-appointing? Consider developing a hybrid method. Trust me, this will help leave room in your schedule for new patients and patients ready to go forward with treatment, reducing the number of broken appointments your practice deals with each day and increasing your production numbers.
If you want to own a successful dental practice, you have to focus on properly managing your schedule. Make these changes and you’ll not only have a more streamlined, stress-free schedule, you’ll see an increase in practice production numbers and your bottom line.
Need more help? Consider taking my free online Scheduling Assessment.
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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