4 Reasons Your Schedule is Chaotic (And How to Fix It!)
When you walk into your practice each morning, you never quite know what to expect. It might be another busy day that keeps you running from patient to patient with no time for a break, or last minute cancellations and no-shows might leave you with gaping holes in your schedule that go unfilled. Either way, there’s one thing for sure: it’s likely to be stressful.
If this describes your practice, it’s time to take your schedule back. Your schedule shouldn’t be a source of stress. Instead, it should keep you on track to meet daily production goals. If it isn’t, it might be time to make some changes.
Not sure how your schedule got so out of control? Here are four reasons your schedule is chaotic, and what you can do to fix it.
1. More than one person handles scheduling. This is a big one. When there are multiple hands in your schedule, it’s bound to lead to frustration and confusion. Instead of meeting production goals, your days are filled with inaccurate procedure times, double bookings and those dreaded broken appointments that cost you money and bring everyone on the team down.
So what’s the fix? I suggest you hire a TRAINED Scheduling Coordinator. This important team member should understand the importance of scheduling to meet daily production goals – not just scheduling to keep you busy – and is the person accountable for the schedule. If you properly communicate with your Scheduling Coordinator and provide the necessary training, you’ll finally enjoy a more streamlined, stress-free schedule.
2. You schedule dream days. Sure, most dentists would love to fill in their own schedule with the procedures they enjoy doing the most and that bring in the most revenue. The problem is, just because you tell your Scheduling Coordinator to block out a certain number of crown and bridge appointments every day doesn’t mean you have enough demand to fill those spots.
If you’re going to block out sections of the schedule for your favorite procedures, you have to be realistic. Base the number on historical data and what the practice can actually achieve, not what you wish it could achieve.
Let’s say you want to block out time for crown and bridge procedures. First, calculate how many you’ve done in the last six months. Divide that by the number of days you worked to determine how many spots to reserve. Now remember there’s no guarantee this number is exact, but it will be much closer than if you simply guess.
3. You don’t have daily production goals. It’s difficult for your Scheduling Coordinator to schedule you to meet daily production goals if you haven’t figured out what those goals are. This is key to practice success, so if you haven’t already, now is a great time to determine practice production goals.
Start by gathering your team members and working together to come up with goals for both the practice and everyone as individuals. Make sure team members understand how important their contributions are to meeting those goals and to practice success. From there, think about how much money you need to live the lifestyle you want and how many hours a week you’re willing to work to get there. Don’t forget to factor in all practice related overhead, including salaries and lab fees. This will help you determine how much money you need to bring in each day to meet your goals, and that’s the number that should dictate your schedule.
Once you know your daily production goals, train the Scheduling Coordinator to schedule you to meet them. This will be a huge step forward in fixing your schedule and growing your bottom line.
4. You rely on pre-appointing alone. This is a practice dentists have used for years, but all it does is wreak havoc on your schedule. Most people have no idea what they’re doing six months from now, which is why many of the patients who schedule this far in advance end up cancelling at the last minute or simply not showing up at all, leaving your team scrambling to fill holes in the schedule. Bottom line, these broken appointments cost you money and lead to undue stress in your practice.
Another problem with pre-appointing? The schedule looks full even though it really isn’t. That means when new patients call to schedule an appointment, they can’t get in for weeks. Even if they do schedule, many of these patients won’t wait that long to see a doctor. Instead, they’ll keep calling practices until they find a dentist who can get them in sooner.
I know you might not be ready to give up pre-appointing, so consider developing a hybrid method instead. This will help reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows your practice deals with each day as well as open up more room in your schedule for new patients.
Managing a schedule isn’t easy, which is why it’s so important to hire a TRAINED Scheduling Coordinator to take over this important task. You’ll find your schedule is more streamlined and much less stressful, and that of course leads to increased production and a more robust bottom line.
Next week: Get the most out of your Scheduling Coordinator
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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