This is a funny story -- my mother-in-law was telling me about how shy my wife was as a child. When my wife was about 10, her mom asked her to order pizza. My wife was so terrified about talking to a stranger on the phone that she cried, resisted, and pouted. The only way my wife was able to make the call to order pizza was after her mom wrote her a script of what to say -- and gave her $10.
I am the Naked Dentist. No, I do not practice dentistry nor are my clients naked. With a new analytic tool, we collect all the data within a dental practice and show the team what to do next. I relate this process as "stripping" the office of all its clothes, makeup, and accessories to reveal the true problem areas. Once the problem areas are identified, we then tone or sometimes perform surgery to achieve the lifestyle and financial success that the doctor desires.
What does a scared 10-year-old using a script to order pizza and your dental practice have in common? To get the thing that you want, whether it is pizza or patients, sometimes scripts may be a necessity. A client of mine from Oregon (we will refer to him as Dr. Oregon) didn't believe in using scripts in his office. He wants his staff to be genuine with his patients, not come across as robots. Additionally, he felt that the team would be concentrating more on a script, rather than caring for the patients.
We quickly installed our powerful "stripping" tool to instantly discover what successes and troubles there were within the office. Before showing him the results, I asked him, "Where do you believe the reappointing percentage is currently in the practice?"
"90% or higher, every patient leaves the office with a card that has the next appointment date and time written on it," he replied.
Shock and awe
Reality did not reflect his answer. Dr. Oregon had an awful reappointing percentage of 30%! The national average is around 60% to 70%, but when you factor in changed appointments and cancellations, the number drops below 40%. In other words, the national average is much lower than it should be. A healthy growing practice should be at 90%.
Without constantly tracking this number, it can become dangerously out of control (just ask any consultant or dental expert). Even though the practice was not tracking the reappointing percentage, the team was doing random recall that was able to bring in 20% to 30% of those appointments that were lost. Recall was also not being tracked or monitored.
Dr. Oregon had two of his employees doing recall -- let's call them Mary and Allison. Mary is the office manager, working for more than 15 years in the office and is looked at as the star employee. Allison is a fantastic hygienist who is always doing what is expected from the team.
Mary calls 100 patients per week, contacts 10, and schedules 8. Allison calls 30 per week, contacted 20, and scheduled 10.
Would you prefer Mary or Allison to call your recall list? We have great data from both Mary and Allison. From the data, we can learn the following:
- Mary is contacting at 10%, while Allison is contacting at 66%. What is different? Mary was calling at lunch time, and Allison was calling after hours.
- Once contacted, Mary was scheduling 80% and Allison was scheduling at 50%. Dr. Oregon did not have a script in place for either employee to use. While Allison was calling and saying whatever came to mind, Mary has come up with her own script that has helped her not only be efficient but schedule patients.
After understanding the data and what they say about his employees, Dr. Oregon sees the need to implement a script for both employees. He also saw a need for both employees to contact patients at the end of the day or after hours.
With new systems in place, Mary and Allison are now contacting 50% to 70% and scheduling 70% to 90% of patients on the recall list. Before we stripped the office, recall efforts were at 130 call attempts and scheduling 18 patients per week. Now they are still calling 130 patients with more than 60% being scheduled. As long as they continue to monitor, the practice will be the most successful in the state.
2 birds with 1 stone
By stripping Dr. Oregon's office, we discovered that his reappointment percentage was very low. We also discover that his recall was decent, but by understanding why the numbers were being generated, he was able to implement some easy changes that resulted in huge benefits for the team. Now we need to discover what is affecting his reappointment percentage, so that we can easily fix that metric too (we will do that in another article). Dr. Oregon is on the right track to living the lifestyle he desires.
To avoid plateaus and disasters, continually monitor and track the numbers within your practice. The numbers will never lie. Reach out to me at any time if you have questions about the numbers within your practice.
Let's get naked together.
Curtis Marshall serves as the vice president of marketing at Dental Intel. If you would like your practice to be in the next Naked Dentist column and have your practice undressed, contact him at email@example.com or 801-380-7070.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.