4 Ways To Fill Your Schedule and Keep It That Way

It’s no secret that in order to grow a successful practice, you need to have patients and a full productive schedule. 

However, it’s getting there that is the challenge.  What does it take to get patients to come in and choose you for their dental care versus someone else?  We already know you have to match the patients’ wants and desires but you also have to find ways to make it easy for them to say ‘yes.’  


Filling Your Dental Schedule Has Gotten Harder…And That’s Good News

I have some good news for you and some bad news.  Let’s start with the bad news.  When I’m talking to dentists across the country, we talk about what’s going on in their practice, and what’s not working.  I am always hearing statements like, “What I used to do ….. doesn’t work anymore.  It’s getting very hard to get patients.”

So many doctors are wondering why old methods just aren’t working anymore and what they need to do.  They’re very focused on the HOW step, the WHAT, and the next thing, when they should actually be focusing on the WHO and the WHY first.

How can we make it work to our benefit when it comes to getting patients while it’s been only getting harder?

Unfortunately, most people aren’t going to do it or make the extra effort because let’s face it, people tend to be lazy.  Unless something is very uncomfortable, they are not going to make any changes.  If it’s a little bit harder, or moderately harder to get patients, they are just not going to deal with it, they’re going to complain about it.

If it’s becoming harder to get patients that means you need to do more than the guy down the street, and that’s how you are going to stand out.  You have to get more involved in what you need to be doing.  And get more in tune with who is your new ideal patient?

These things are always evolving and changing, so you have to stay on top of it.  You need to be asking yourself, why would they be interested in your services, and why are they looking for a dentist in the first place?  You have to break down the barriers in your patients’ heads and overcome them.

The good news is - if you are committed to doing the harder work, then you are going to succeed.  I know I want you to succeed, so I want you to look forward, re-evaluate your patient attraction systems and figure out what’s not working anymore and change it.

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Filling Your Hygiene Schedule To In Turn Fill Your Restorative Schedule

This point isn’t often talked about because it isn’t the ‘hot new thing’ or ‘shiny new object’ but it’s still an important factor in increasing your production putting money in your business’ pocket and that’s hygiene reactivation.

Hygiene reactivation can be the fastest path to increase revenue in the entire practice when utilized efficiently.  It’s a low entry point to get your patients in the door and get that face to face interaction with them.

Hygiene reactivation can be the fastest path to increase revenue in the entire practice when utilized efficiently.  It’s a low entry point to get your patients in the door and get that face to face interaction with them.

There are two sides to filling your hygiene schedule and that is from your team and from the patients.

Letting your patients know they are overdue and need to come in via text message probably isn’t producing the results it should be for you.  It isn’t personal enough.  So I created a system that we used in my practice that really revitalized my hygiene department.

We had key team members call patients in the evening to get patients scheduled and it worked.  Most of your patients are at work during the day so calling in the evening highly increased our responses.

Plus, by allowing this to be voluntary (instead of being ‘volun-told’) and offering a great incentive to do so made the team member more enthusiastic about getting the appointments booked, therefore creating much better results for all.

The other side of this is you need to think of a way to get the patient motivated to want to even come in for a visit.

There are four key points you need to hit putting your plan together:

  • Stop using those vanilla reactivation pieces provided by your dental software. Vanilla/bland marketing doesn’t work. Find unique and creative ways that will make it appealing to the patient.
  • Give them some type of reward for taking action and coming in. A little gift, maybe a credit on their account, something to motivate them to come in.
  • Give it a deadline. It won’t last forever, give them a deadline they need to come in by to get their gift.
  • Make it easy for them to come back in. Do you have time blocked in the schedule so that you can see them when they are available? Do you have hours that are convenient for them, like Fridays or evenings? These things really go a long way in patient acceptance.

If you hit these four points when creating reactivation campaigns I guarantee you will see an increase in patients saying ‘yes’ to coming back in.

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Fill Your Schedule With Uncompleted Treatment Plans

Back in the 1990’s practice management consultants estimated that the average dental office had $1 million to $3 million dollars worth of uncompleted treatment plans sitting in their filing cabinets.  This was 20 years ago, that amount would probably be closer to $10 million dollars in today’s economy.  Woah!

That’s your money!  From patients you have already invested in to get, created relationships with, and designed a custom treatment plan to get them back to optimal dental health.  Now you just have to take these patients from ‘sitting duck’ status to sitting in your chair.

Your typical postcard or phone call saying, ‘you need to come back in’ isn’t going to cut it.  You need to create an entire marketing campaign focused solely on getting these patients back in.

I want to help you get that money ‘off the shelf’ and back into your business bank account.  So you need to start by coming up with something to incentivize your patient to come back in.  A great way to do this is by offering some type of credit on their account.

Send them a personalized letter stating something along the lines of, ‘I want to help you get this treatment done Mary.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!  So if you come in by XXX date I will give you a $100 credit on the account to help you get this done’.

You won’t be sending this on your plain office letterhead either.  Get a fun envelope, use paper with a picture of an elephant with a fork.  You have to make it fun and use some humor to get their attention.

You also have to make sure you follow up.  People get busy and time gets away from us all.  So plan to send them a couple letters reminding them of your gift and to come in to take advantage of it.

It may seem like a lot of effort but we’re talking about possibly millions of dollars, I think it is well worth the efforts. The best part, once you create this campaign you can reuse it over and over again, you won’t have to recreate the wheel every time.

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Blocking Your Schedule

While everyone deals with some type of schedule every day (including patients!), many people don’t work on blocking it for productivity for the rest of their day.  Meaning, the all-important tasks that get you closer to your goal has a reserved time in the schedule to make sure it happens.

If a new patient is trying to schedule an appointment but you are booked out for 3 weeks, they most likely aren’t going to wait.  But you if leave time slots open exclusively for new patients each week, this issue will be avoided and you won’t risk losing your newest best patient.

Schedule blocking applies to all departments in your dental practice.  Leave time blocked off in hygiene for non-surgical perio treatments so you can capitalize on those high production procedures.  So when the opportunity comes up and a patient is ready to accept treatment, you are able to provide it for them in a timely manner.  You avoid the ‘kiss of death’ when you tell them they need this very important procedure but you aren’t open for 3 or 4 weeks.  All that tells them is that isn’t really that important.

If a few days before a block isn’t filled, you open it up to other procedures to make sure there is no down chair time.  This ensures nothing is wasted either way.

If you keep those blocks open for your big nugget procedures each day, that will help avoid the roller-coaster months and get you closer to your goals.  Your days, weeks, and months will become more stable because you are allotting time for all of your procedures, including your biggest ticket items.

About the Author

Ginger is a dentist, coach, and award winning copywriter and marketer that works with committed dentists to get and keep more patients, increase production, and take home more...all without being overwhelmed or stressed out.

To contact Dr. Bratzel's office directly about Products, Events, or Coaching go to:  www.GingerBratzel.com or call 405-225-0254.

 

Ginger Bratzel, DDS

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