The Top 6 Reasons Your Production Numbers Have Taken A Hit
When production numbers take a hit, so does your bottom line – leading to stress and frustration for you and your team members. Your practice can’t be successful if it isn’t productive, which is why it’s so important to focus on meeting those daily goals.
The truth is, lackluster production is a problem most dentists face at some point in their careers. Plenty of factors contribute to production woes, from scheduling problems to weak case presentations. The good news is, when you recognize what’s hurting your production numbers, you can take the necessary steps to get back on track.
I’m here to help you do that, and have put together the top six reasons production starts to falter and how you can avoid these pitfalls in your practice.
1. You’re not being scheduled to meet production goals. Once you sit down with team members to define your practice’s daily production goals, you need to make sure you’re actually being scheduled to reach those goals. It’s important to train your Scheduling Coordinator to schedule you (and all practice producers) to meet established goals, not just to keep you busy.
2. Your case presentations aren’t as strong as they could be. Most dentists don’t have a lot of time to present treatment, and often only spend five, maybe ten minutes chairside talking to patients about their condition and explaining their recommendations. This usually isn’t enough to convince patients they need to move forward, so they leave the practice without scheduling.
To improve case acceptance, I suggest you hire a Treatment Coordinator who is responsible for presenting treatment for all producers. This team member should sit down with every patient in a comfortable environment to outline recommended treatment and the importance of moving forward. If the patient doesn’t schedule then, the coordinator should follow-up two days later, prepared to help overcome any perceived barriers to care and answer any questions. Taking this approach will increase case acceptance numbers and practice productivity.
3. You rarely reach out to patients with unscheduled treatment. If production numbers are down, you likely have quite a few patients on your unscheduled treatment report. I suggest you start calling those patients – and not just when you have a last-minute cancellation and need to fill a hole in the schedule. Task one of your team members with tracking unscheduled treatment and reaching out to at least five of these patients a day to get them on the schedule.
4. Patient retention is nowhere near where it should be. Patients who don’t plan to come back to your office certainly won’t schedule treatment, and that of course hurts practice productivity and your bottom line. If you’re losing 50% more patients than you’re bringing in each month, we need to figure out why.
Patients decide not to come back for a variety of reasons, so take a step back and really think about why it’s happening in your practice. Could your customer service be better? Are you and your team members taking the time to develop connections with patients? Are your hours not convenient? Do patients have to wait a long time to see you? Determine what the problem is and then take steps to fix it.
5. There isn’t enough patient education. Patients who value dentistry and understand how important maintaining their oral health is to their overall health are more likely to accept treatment. But patients won’t value dentistry if they’re not educated.
It’s vital for you and your team members to provide that education. Use intraoral cameras and digital photography to show patients what’s going on in their mouths. Pull their x-rays up and go over any abnormalities you see. Play patient education videos that explain conditions and procedures, and provide handouts they can take home. Not only will this help them understand why moving forward with treatment is so important, it will also help patients feel more connected to you and your practice.
6. You rely solely on pre-appointing. When patients schedule an appointment six-months out, they have no idea if they’ll actually be able to keep that appointment. All too often something comes up and they have to cancel at the last minute, or they forget to show up at all. This sends your office scrambling to fill the hole, and makes it pretty difficult to reach that day’s production goals.
Instead of relying on pre-appointing, I suggest you consider a hybrid system. Only schedule patients who have a history of showing up and contact other patients to schedule a few months before they’re due. You’ll find you have fewer broken appointments and more productive days.
Practice production numbers take a hit for many reasons, but the result is always the same: it hurts your bottom line. Following these tips should help get you back where you want to be. Need more guidance? Don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always happy to help.
Next week: Grow practice production with these revenue-generating tips
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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What Do You Do for Your Patients?
Front Office Training Case #FO234
Dental teams are often focused on what they “do to” their patients regarding treatment rendered, versus what they “do for” the patient regarding patient care and great customer service. At a typical morning huddle, I have often heard dental assistants, hygienists and doctors discuss the patients and services on the schedule for that day. As it should be, the concerns for delivery of care and the actual procedures to be performed are discussed, and who will be involved in the treatment is laid out in a strategic plan.
Comments about patients such as “he never brushes his teeth” or “she always has to use the restroom just when you call her name to come in” often go around the room with smiles and laughter. While this exchange is good to defuse a certain amount of pre-patient stress, it is also an indicator that perhaps there are some patient needs that aren’t being met.
A decade or so ago there was a trend in offices to provide “fresh baked cookies” and a beverage bar to make patients feel at home. Some practices made popcorn in the afternoon to cheer people up – after all, who doesn’t like the smell of popcorn? This trend died out during the recession because it was considered an “extra” without money to cover it.
Many practices are still in post-recession mode and running a lean and tight ship when it comes to spending on anything not considered necessary for the operation of dentistry. I am not recommending that you start baking cookies or popping corn, but suggesting that you consider what you could do for your patients other than provide a service in a professional manner.
For some practices, all the cookies in the world won’t get a patient to return. Let’s take the office of Dr. James Taeho (all names are fictional in this article). He had just taken over his father’s 30-year-old practice and his father’s goodwill. Most of the patients stayed with the practice, although they would have preferred to see the senior Dr. Taeho. The younger Dr. Taeho was enthusiastic about building his own practice and had a lot to learn about the patients.
Frank Turner was a patient who arrived first thing in the morning for a crown prep on tooth #18. He was given anesthetic and Dr. Taeho proceeded to drill away. The assistant, who was retracting the cheek, had to get up to retrieve an instrument. Somehow in the process, the patient’s cheek got pulled into the drill and was lacerated. After the procedure was completed the patient continued to bleed. He was given a gauze pack and released to go home. He bled all that night and his wife called the office the next day. The hygienist called back after reading the patient’s chart. The chart stated that Mr. Turner was on Coumadin (blood thinner) for a heart valve condition. The bleeding finally stopped, but the cheek was sore and swollen. Dr. Taeho never called Mr. Turner. Because of that, Frank Turner decided never to return to the practice.
Reading a patient’s health history is a crucial part of the morning huddle. In this case, no one caught the fact that Mr. Turner was a Coumadin patient. Since health histories were usually updated in the hygiene appointment, it was neglected in the restorative appointment.
Notes of a personal nature can also be reviewed for each patient coming in that day. Is today the patient’s birthday? Did the patient go on that cruise? How is college? If the patient always uses the restroom prior to coming into the treatment room, the patient is most likely nervous. What can the team do to help with the patient’s nerves? Kind conversation and reassuring words always help.
The patient who hasn’t brushed his teeth may not know that dry brushing with water in the car is an acceptable way to clean the mouth. He may have come from lunch or breakfast without taking the time to brush. Offering a disposable brush to all patients prior to appointments would be a thoughtful service.
Calling patients on the evening of a restorative or surgical appointment is still considered one of the best patient-centered customer services. Letting them know you care about their welfare is far more important than cookies and popcorn. Start putting more importance on what you do for your patients, instead of what you do to them, and your practice will grow.
Want to learn more about good business systems to prevent the loss of patients? Call McKenzie Management today for business training courses and consulting services to improve your practice performance.
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