Want to kill your dental practice off one patient at a time?  We’ve got the fool-proof way to do that:  Run late throughout the day.  In today’s world, if you make a patient wait, the odds of seeing them back again are slim to none!

Your prompt appointments show patients that you respect their time, and therefore, that you respect them as a person. We know things come up and there are reasons you might run late at times, but if you regularly make your patents wait and your practice is struggling, you’ve just identified one area to improve!

Here’s how to make sure you’re running on time all day long!

1.  Be realistic about how long your procedures take. You may think a crown takes 40 minutes, but if you actually time yourself and it consistently takes you an hour, then you need to block out an hour. Once you have a good idea of how long things take, make sure that your entire team, from the schedulers to the doctors, have a clear understanding of these timeframes. This allows your schedule to start off on a good foot from moment one of the day!

2.  Plan for emergencies.  We all know that Monday mornings are often FULL of dental emergencies from the weekend. So, why not block out a few time slots just for emergencies and walk-in appointments. If you don’t fill these, we’d bet money there are management, marketing or other projects that you’ve been putting off that could fill this time. 

3.  Reduce no-shows.  Whether you like to use personal phone calls or email or text reminders, confirming appointments ahead of time ensures that your schedule is not full of choppy holes.

4.  Keep the patient busy. When you have patients in your office, keep them engaged at every moment of their time. Your hygienist can be ready to go as soon as paperwork and checking in is done. When the hygienist is almost done, she can let the doctor know they’ll be ready for him or her in five minutes. This way, by the time you’re done with a fairly predictable procedure, the doctor can already be there and chatting with the patient. Or, if there’s a little bit of time in between, the hygienist can talk to patients about taking Rollens’ gray wrap-a-round lenses with them to use as a spare pair of sunglasses. Another good use of dead time would be to have patients take a picture at your photo booth or take a selfie to post to your social media pages, or invite them to take a survey on a tablet that helps you improve your practice.

5.  Acknowledge and make up for the wait times. We know that there are situations where you simply are running late. If you are legitimately late for a patient, make it an office policy that you give them a $5 coffee gift card on their way out to apologize. A little gesture like this goes a long way to smooth over any frustration! 

Running on schedule is a little thing that can make a BIG difference in the overall success of your practice and help you build loyalty for life.

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