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3 Reasons Your Schedule is Out of Control
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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It’s true that life as a dentist can be stressful at times. Between seeing patients and running a business, you have a lot of different tasks to juggle throughout the day. Your schedule should help ease some of that stress, and guide you to meeting daily production goals. Unfortunately, for many dentists, the schedule doesn’t do that. Instead, it’s just another source of stress.

If you find yourself regularly dealing with double-bookings, inaccurate appointment times, unfilled openings and broken appointments, it’s safe to say your schedule is out of control and holding your practice back. You need a schedule that streamlines your day and puts you on track to meet daily production goals. Before you can do that, you have to understand why your schedule is such a mess. Here are three reasons your schedule is so chaotic, and tips to help you take back control.

1. Multiple team members schedule patients. If more than one person is tasked with scheduling duties, you’re asking for trouble. This means no one is actually accountable for the schedule; everyone just adds in patient names when they can. None of your team members are looking to make sure you’re scheduled to meet production goals, and there’s no set system for inputting appointments or handling cancellations and no-shows. As you can imagine (or know from experience) this leads to a mess.

Rather than asking all your team members to input appointments, I suggest you hire a Scheduling Coordinator and empower this team member to take over the schedule. Hold this person accountable and provide the necessary training and guidance. Make sure your coordinator knows how important it is to schedule you to meet production goals, not to just keep you busy, and you’ll soon have a much more streamlined schedule.

2. You don’t actually have production goals. Speaking of production goals, if you haven’t established them already, now is the time. Setting and meeting daily production goals really is vital to your practice’s success. How do you do this? Think about how much money you need to live your ideal lifestyle and how many hours a week you’re willing to work to make that happen. Factor in practice overhead costs and then determine your target number from there. 

Be sure to involve your team members in this process. Take the opportunity to talk with them about setting goals and let them know how important their contributions are to practice success. This will help them take ownership of their roles and motivate them to excel.

3. There’s no room for new patients in the schedule. Many dentists still rely on pre-appointing patients six months out. It’s just something they’ve always done, and they like to know they have a full schedule for weeks or even months in advance. The problem is, the schedule really isn’t full, as there’s a good chance many of these patients will cancel at the last minute or not show up at all.

Because the schedule is booked so far in advance, it becomes difficult for new patients to make an appointment. They’re told they have to wait six weeks or more to see the doctor, which doesn’t exactly make them happy. Even if these patients schedule an appointment before they hang up, I can almost guarantee they’re going to keep calling other practices until they find one that can fit them in sooner.

This is a costly mistake I see so many practices make. They spend time and money attracting new patients to their practice, but lose them before they even walk through the door. I can’t stress how important it is to leave room for new patients in the schedule. You’ll have a difficult time reaching your full potential if you don’t see (and retain) a certain number of new patients each month.

So how many slots should you leave for new patients? Although it’s tempting, picking a random number won’t do you any good. Instead, take a look at your practice’s new patient activity over the last six months. Let’s say you treated 60 patients, which is an average of 10 patients per month or 2.5 patients a week. That tells you how much time you should reserve in the schedule to meet new patient demand. 

A chaotic schedule is not only stressful, it also costs you money. If you make the necessary changes, such as hiring a Scheduling Coordinator, you can take control of your schedule and finally start meeting your full potential.

Need help to get started? Feel free to reach out. Together, we’ll take your schedule back.

Next week: How to help your new Scheduling Coordinator excel.

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
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Add “Ghosting” to Hiring Headaches of Office Managers
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Have you ever been “stood up” by a job applicant? It’s a phenomenon that used to happen occasionally, but today, due to its frequency, there is a name for it: “Ghosting”.  When I was an office manager and took care of the HR duties, I found that about 30% of people I had scheduled for a personal interview never showed up. Didn’t call or send an email, just failed to show. I would look at a stellar resume thinking the person might be a good fit for the practice, only to have my day soured by the person “dismissing” the opportunity. I thought (and still do) that this behavior is a show of character.

According to the Society of Human Resources (SHRM) such behavior has left many HR professionals and hiring managers baffled. In today's market, job seekers and workers are in the driver's seat. There are now more openings—6.6 million as of June 1—than there are unemployed people—6.1 million, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But no-shows and mysterious disappearances are happening nationally across a wide range of industries.

"For years, candidates anxiously awaited responses from employers after meticulously preparing their resumes and cover letters, attending interviews and then—cricket sounds—nothing," says Susan Hosage, SHRM-SCP, senior consultant and executive coach for OneSource HR Solutions in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Recruiters dodged phone calls and deleted messages from candidates who wanted to know their hiring status.

Now, the tables have turned.

Recently I offered a job applicant what I thought was a great opportunity and even offered to mentor her. She was very enthusiastic and even though she didn’t have the exact skills, I wanted her attitude and willingness to learn. When she didn’t make it to a meeting I had set up, I emailed her. When she didn’t respond I called her. Both times I asked for her to please call or email back. No response. Knowing that she posted on Facebook I checked her posts. She had taken another position and was boasting about it. 

Wasting time is not what I like to do, so I pondered how to reconsider our approach to job applicants. I had assumed that the job I offered was better than she could ever find anywhere else. I was obviously wrong. This job market is “hyper-competitive”. Was I offering the right benefits, or did I paint the practice environment as “hard work and maybe no lunch”?

The practice could not afford medical benefits, and that itself turns off prospective employees who are under the age of 65. The practice did offer free dental care for the employee and immediate family, up to $1000 per person in a calendar year. The practice did offer some nice perks such as longer than average time off for holidays, paid vacation and some well and personal days. Continuing Education trips paid by the doctor. Training and mentoring provided to improve job skills. The list continued…and then I realized I had been concentrating on whether the applicant was suitable for the job, instead of the possibility that the applicant was assessing the position for whether it was the best available to her. The days when you took a job because it was offered are over, at least for now.

Today, I look more closely at resumes to see if there are indications of what this person really wants in a position. I do a Skype interview or at least a personal phone interview with specific questions, and ask the applicant to ask me questions about the practice and position. If I choose an applicant and want to make an offer, to avoid being “ghosted” I give them a deadline to accept the offer or decline it. 

The economy is good for workers today and there are many more opportunities than ever to make a good living. You still must be diligent and careful in your hiring process to get the best candidate for your practice. If you need help in this area, McKenzie Management offers Office Manager Training and Front Office Skills Training for your new or existing team.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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