Summer means water parks, lemonade stands, and weeds. I have a flower bed with the most beautiful wildflowers, but to keep those flowers growing, I have to pull a handful of weeds every morning. When I come back from vacation, the flowerbed is covered in weeds, which choke my flowers and ruin the beauty of my yard.
I am the Naked Dentist. No, I am not a dentist, I am not always naked, nor do my clients practice dentistry naked. I have a powerful analytic tool that strips a dental office of all its clothes, makeup, and accessories to reveal the true problem areas. At that point we can maintain dental performance or systematically improve performance to reach forecasted goals. Today we are going to discuss how to avoid the office from choking to death.
Having patients in the chair is the only way a dental practice is going to produce. You can wish, work, or yell as much as you want, but without patients in your chairs, you will never be able to drill and fill. Most of the time an office or consultant will tell you that you need more new patients. While that is true, what they are really saying is that you need more patients in your chairs. New patients are typically the quickest way to do so. For those offices that want to work less and develop patients that return and refer, new patients are not the answer.
Just like weeds, tasks within the office can get out of control in a hurry. There are more than 400 numbers to monitor and track within a practice. Working with a doctor in Minnesota, I used my analytic tool to help uncover two "weeds" that were choking the practice's growth. When the office focused on culling these weeds daily, production when up, stress went down, and more patients were in the dental chair.
2 ways to get more patients
Using the analytics tool on Dr. Minnesota's practice, we gathered all his Dentrix and QuickBooks data to create a constant view of his practice. At the same time, we also set up a call tracker that automatically generates calling lists. This call tracker was able to increase his patients with a future appointment by 52% in just three months.
The two calling lists he used (Case Acceptance 2-2-2 and Recall 2-4-6-8) both monitor attempts, contact with patients, and scheduled appointments into a daily metric seen on my analytic tool.
The first system, Case Acceptance 2-2-2, is guaranteed to increase case acceptance when used. When a patient with diagnosed treatment leaves the office without an appointment, they are being called up to three times to become part of your "more patients."
The first call comes in two days, the second call is done in two weeks, and the final call is done at two months after the treatment was presented. During these calls, if patients decline or schedule treatment, they will not receive additional calls. But with those patients who have concerns or busy schedules, they now have multiple opportunities to get the treatment scheduled, while feeling the love from the office on the importance of a healthy mouth.
The second system, Recall 2-4-6-8, focuses on hygiene appointments. Every patient that leaves the office should have a return hygiene appointment on the calendar. For those that slip out without an appointment, this list provides a small list to call and schedule one.
The first call is two days after they leave (hopefully, you get them on the schedule by this point), the second call is done at four months, and then the other calls are at six months and finally at eight months. If you do not get the patient in for a hygiene appointment by then, there is a bigger problem, and that patient is more than likely to become inactive.
You do not need to get an automatic system for this. Any office can accomplish these tasks and get more patients.
In my experience, 92% of dental offices that make these daily simple calls also spend zero dollars on marketing for new patients. Making these calls trickles throughout the whole practice. By simply monitoring and calling, team performance improves. Here are a few benefits that result:
- More patients leave the office with a hygiene visit (which lowers the calling list and gets more patients in the chair).
- More patients accept treatment (which also lowers the call list and at the same time gets more patients in the chair).
- Team members are happier, because there is a way to track their effectiveness.
- The doctor stresses less, because production and collections are higher.
- Forecasting is easier, because more patients are returning.
The practice in Minnesota is now producing patients that return and refer, and the team now knows what needs to be done each day to keep the patients returning. Their office is like my beautiful flower bed, it now just needs to be weeded a little bit every day, and that practice will continue to produce. But, if they stop monitoring for just a week, those weeds will grow and choke the office.
Every office has different weeds. It might be scheduling for some and overhead for others. Let's strip down your office and discover what weeds need pulling. Have a fantastic summer!
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.