6 Ways to Reduce Missed Appointments!
Six ways to stop no-shows and increase your profit!
Six ways to stop no-shows and increase your profit!
What does it mean to be authentic and why does authenticity matter? The key to being authentic is figuring out who you are, what is import to you – and expressing it. Dentistry is more competitive than ever and patients have no problem leaving your practice to go across the street for the new patient special if they view your services as a commodity. There are many thoughts that you may be having that do not fall under the category of being your authentic self. Some examples are having a team that you don’t like, dreading going into the office, and worrying about how little you are being reimbursed by insurance. You are aware of all of the issues but you are either pretending they aren’t real or you aren’t making any moves to fix them. On the other side of the coin is striving for fulfillment and truly making your practice yours.
We want to encourage you to stay connected to your why and your heart and to what matters. If you are practicing in a way that doesn’t make you feel good take a step back and look inside because the problem always lies within you. Realign with the passion of why you got into dentistry and what your values are – this is where the fulfillment lies.
I feel like now more than ever, dentists have got to get a hold on, missed appointments, like missed appointments already are so detrimental to a practice. And then you put it on top of the pandemic and practices being closed for months. You have a backlog of patients trying to get in and you have months of revenue. You’re trying to make up for like how, how can even one missed appointment happened in your practice. So I really want to talk about just different ways that you can reduce no shows and missed appointments that maybe are ways that you haven’t thought about before.
Yeah. And, and a lot of our viewers, um, you know, when you kind of go over the best ways to reduce missed appointments, you know, you might be like writing down notes and being like, Oh yeah, you know, I’ve heard of that before. Um, but I want to challenge you as you’re hearing these things to think about how well are they consistently, um, happening in your practice and at what level of excellence are they consistently happening? So not just, yeah, I know about, you know, the first point that you’re going to make or the second thing, but again, like, is it consistently happening in your practice and at what level of excellence? Because I feel like there’s always opportunity for people to kind of, um, I dunno, take a fresh perspective on something and bring like a new, not just energy, but a new level of intention to really elevate their game in these different items that we’re gonna talking about.
Yeah. So we’re going to talk about six ways that you can reduce missed appointments in your practice. So first way, texting, this is a no brainer, but I want to challenge everyone to take a look at the system that you’re using for texting, because here’s the thing technology’s always changing and the platforms are getting better and better as far as patient reminders, systems, um, email notifications, all of that. And so even if you have a system, make sure it’s the best that’s out there and also make sure it’s optimized. Are your, is your, um, text messages? Are your text messages going out the same day or are they just reminding your patient like a week before? Because I know that a lot of my patients have said, Oh my gosh, I’m so thankful that you guys texted me like two hours ago because I was in the middle of this like crazy project. And I would have totally forgot, even though I already confirmed, I would have forgot had your texts not have reminded me, you know, just this morning. So,
And there’s always going to be people that get annoyed.
Yeah. But whatever
Haters are gonna hate, but you knowing that what you do is valuable and then what you isn’t important isn’t is great for you so that it’s not just like, Oh, Hey, we’re nagging him through this time.
Yeah. You can’t please everyone. So I don’t even think that we should worry about that. If you don’t have your same day texts, reminders on, turn them on more people will thank you than not. So,
So at the very base, get in the game with, uh, texts kind of reminders, if you’re already in the game, a step to elevate is, think about the voice that you’re actually using. And does that really align with kind of, I don’t know, is it, is it you guys, is it just like, Hey, don’t forget, you have
Customize it, customize it. So it’s like a text coming from a friend. I mean, you really want to be personal with your patients. So another thing too is I would make sure that the text is coming from your office phone number. That is huge. If it’s just some random, like, I don’t know, random number, they’re going to be like, who’s texting me, but they likely have your office phone number saved in their phone. And so when you text them, they’re going to say, Oh, it’s doctor so-and-so’s office. I think this is really, really important. And I’ve seen so many offices that aren’t doing this and patients won’t even respond. They’ll just think it’s spam. So number two thing that you can do to reduce missed appointments in your practice is look at your hours and your days that you’re open. Now, I think everyone’s going to hate me when I say consider opening earlier, stay in there later and consider being open on Fridays and or Saturdays.
I know dental offices are notorious for being open like Monday through Thursday from nine to five. And then it’s like this perfect schedule. And trust me, like I love those hour hours too, but I’ve also worked Fridays, Saturdays, 7:00 AM appointments. And all of those times are like super busy and patients want to get in on times that they are not working because if they’re working, then they’re more likely to no show on you. If something comes up during the day with their kids at school or with their job, they are going to have to miss their appointment.
So on point number two, I think there’s kind of two things I’m thinking about first, the assumption that like all employees just want to work nine to five or that’s not even true. So there’s some great talent out there that you could add to your team that would actually love just, I mean, I’m sure even a hygienist that would like just, you know, to work a weekend from time to time. So I’m just saying like team members, there’s a lot of people out there that would actually like to have hours outside of nine to five. So don’t assume that, that you can’t get team members to do that. And likewise, just the shift in the way that consumers want to be related to. Like, it depends a lot on, you know, even just the generation that’s out there, but it’s like the fact that there’s actually business models that are coming to your place of work contracting with like a Boeing, uh, or general mills or something like that. And actually just saying, Hey, this is the day that that mobile unit is out there. So if you schedule an appointment, all you have to do is walk down to the parking lot. Why it’s because of convenience. So don’t understate the importance of convenience. If actual models have completely changed to go to where the consumer is or to where the patient is, then how important is it just to even accommodate them with ours?
Yeah, definitely. So third way to reduce missed appointments is the value that you, your hygienist, your entire team is putting on their appointment. And I’m going to specifically talk hygiene appointments right now, because that is where the majority of the missed appointments happen. Um, if you are just talking to your patients like, Oh, you’re coming in for your cleaning. If your front desk is just calling and reminding them that they’re coming in for their cleaning, that’s all they think that they’re coming in for. They think that it’s easy to blow off their cleaning. Now the value you need to create in the hygiene appointment is everything that you guys are actually doing. You’re doing a medical evaluation for your patient. You’re probably taking their blood pressure. You are discussing their medications. Maybe now you’re discussing things that are happening with the pandemic and maybe some different symptoms they’ve had, or I don’t know, just different ways that you can educate them on their health. Overall, you’re also doing an oral cancer screening for them. This is huge. No other doctor, no other provider is looking in their mouth, looking in the back of their throat, looking underneath their tongue. Every time you come in, you’re adding every time they come in, you’re adding that value to their appointment. Um, you are checking for inflammation, which is tied to periodontal disease, which is tied to different cancers. And you guys know all of these things, but don’t forget your patient doesn’t. So we have to remind them of the value of their hygiene appointments.
So don’t minimize it. Don’t minimize your role. Don’t minimize what you do, what you do matters. And it’s important for you to believe that and just be able to project that confidently.
So the fourth way that you can reduce your missed appointments is either training your patients from the beginning or retraining your patients. I’ve worked at practices that have done it both ways. Their patients are already set in their ways on being able to cancel last minute, being able to no show, being able to call and say, Oh, I’m so sorry. I can’t come in today, but do you have anything tomorrow? And then getting rescheduled for tomorrow, that’s just training them that they can like dip out on you at any time. And that you’ll get them right in and you’ll accommodate them. Oh yeah. Like don’t do this because your patients will continue to do that. Now, if you set the standard that your time is valuable and that your schedule is booked. And if they were to fail an appointment, it’s going to be two months until they can actually get in. They are going to be a lot more likely to keep their appointment. I don’t know about you guys, but like, I would never cancel on my hairstylist because I know that she wouldn’t be able to get me in for months. And so nobody does that. Nobody cancels on their hairstylists. So like, you need to really increase the way that your patients perceive your practice and the regulations that you’re putting for your guys’s time.
I think like the fear there is like, well, what if we come across to something that’s not like, nice. Cause we want to be nice, right? With we’re. We want to be loved in the community and everyone of you that that’s the really nice doctor that smiles and the nice dentist that just smiles and all of his staff smile. And they’re so caring, but caring about your business and caring about what you do means that like, you need to let them know this is a respect thing, you know? So a good example of this is I go to lots of different seminars, uh, lots of different conferences and some of them it’s like, Oh yeah, you know, reserve your spot, blah, blah, blah. And other ones, they’re like, okay, you’re making a deposit. And if you don’t show, there’s going to be a 300 or $500, no show charge.
And they have my credit card on file. And I’m like, Oh my gosh. They’re like, so know this ahead of time. If you’re bringing a guest again, even if they don’t show. So it a whole different level of intention, a whole different level of taking it serious. Like I’m not going to waste their time. If I’m going to go to this conference, I’m going to be serious. And, and I don’t want to waste their time. They don’t want to waste my time. It’s a mutual respect of the relationship. Um, and, and because it’s expressed right off the bat, I’m fine with it.
Don’t be afraid to use a no show fee. Like I know some offices are like, Oh gosh, we don’t want to do that. That’ll just make patients mad. Do not be afraid to have that in your policy. Every single healthcare provider I go to, including the vet for my dog. Like they charge a no show fee like you, everyone does it. So yeah. So fifth way,
We want to incentivize them. How do we do that?
I love this one because, okay. We were just talking about missed appointments. So we’re punishing them for doing something, you know, negative or something that we don’t want them to do, but let’s reward and incentivize them for showing up and being on time and keeping their appointment. And so one way that’s super fun that you guys could do, um, to do this is every time a patient shows up on time for their appointment, enter their name into a drawing, and you guys can do a quarterly drawing for whatever it is that, you know, some people do like an iPad or a TV or a gift card or whatever. Um, and so this is we’re incentivizing them, that they get enter in the contest. The other way to incentivize them
Is by having a special program, like, uh, like zona when you joined that and you have care beyond the chair in your practice. Like the thing with that is that again, instead of it being something that you’re penalizing them, you’re actually getting to lead with generosity and say, Hey, look, you’re part of our family and we’re extending our care to you. So that every time you come in for your appointments, when you don’t do a Nosha, when you don’t have a missed appointment, we’re giving you two of replacement heads for your Z Sonic, absolutely free every single time, year after year. It’s just, it’s just a great way because instead of like, Oh great, I’m going to the dentist and how much is it going to cost me? It’s like, well, no, you’re getting to lead with generosity. You’re getting to,
Yeah. I mean, they get excited over the goodie bag that you give them with, like the free toothbrush and the toothpaste and floss. So just imagine how excited they’re going to be when they get free toothbrush heads that they would have had to purchase anyway. And that aren’t, you know, when they do have to buy them, they’re not inexpensive, like they’re costly. So, um, I love that the last and final way to help reduce missed appointments is connecting with your patients. Sean, do you want to chat about this one? Cause I know you were really excited about it. Yeah.
So this just comes back to like, I don’t know, everything, um, that I care about when it’s just like th the humanity of the individual. So I go to a local Baker, um, shout out to proof bread here in Gilbert and purchase seven to $8 loafs. And while they are amazing, it’s not just that it’s because I actually know the owners and I chat with them and I talk to them and they care about me and I care about them. So it’s like, I don’t know. Um, it’s not just like, Oh, it’s buying bread. It’s not reduced to, uh, what I’m doing. There’s actually a relationship there. So if your patients are just thinking, Oh, it’s my hygiene appointment. I’m reducing it to some non-human meeting appointment in my life that if I cancel the humanize, what’s the point. No, you want them to be thinking, Oh gosh, like, Oh, the front desk person, like Sally, like, I don’t want to let her down.
And my hygienist, I love spending time and getting to talk to her. And then the doctors they’re like, I care about them and I don’t want to even hurt their business by doing a no show. You don’t want it to be a easy decision. That’s disconnected from, uh, I dunno from again, just that human element and just that relational element. So when you’re all about really connecting with your patients and making it, so really they are family and you, and they know you care. Then when they’re evaluating and looking like, Oh my gosh, I have an appointment in two days, they’re going to be so much less apt to like, eh, not a big deal. No, it is a big deal because they care about you and they know you care about them.
No one likes going to the dentist. Like everyone knows that it’s everybody’s least favorite place to be. So the patient experience is going to be huge. Like, what are you guys doing to set yourselves from the competition? It’s the pit. You have to make the patient experience like Sean sane, just it’s the way that they feel. They’re never going to walk out the door saying, Oh my gosh, Shawnee removed so much plaque. Or, you know, doctor so-and-so did the best crown margin. Like, no, they’re just going to remember how you felt, how they felt, how you made them feel. And so that’s another, um, show that we’ll talk about. Or another episode that we’ll do in the future is going to be on the patient experience too. So,
So use this list, these seven, uh, or is it six, six, these six kind of like as a, as an audit, you know, look over them, see which ones you’re currently doing. Uh, if there’s ones that you’re not doing, getting the game, uh, for the ones that you already are doing just you don’t challenge yourself. How consistently am I doing these? And is there kind of a fresh perspective I can take on these to kind of up the excellence and the way that maybe not just I’m doing it, but the whole team, you know, is this top to bottom. Um, you know, when you’re thinking about excellence in systems and in training, it’s like, you know, being part of the staff on the Ritz Carlton, it’s like, it’s all about giving, uh, the visitors, the absolute best experience. And they’re trained that way. Like they don’t ever let up, they’re always wearing a smile.
It’s always about how am I serving you and helping you. And in that same exact way, you want to make sure that not only do you have these things implemented, but it’s not just something you’re trying to check the box on. It’s something that as an entire practice, team-wide, you guys are United around, um, just being excellent in it. You know, it’s more of a lifestyle and less of some forced, we have to do this and we have to try to force the manifest, you know, checking all these boxes. You want it to become just natural in the way that you care for your patients. So we really hope these things helped as, again, six ways to help reduce missed appointments in your practice.
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