No-shows can significantly affect both a practice and a dentist's career. In addition to disrupting the schedule, they can reduce profit, increasing the number of years a dentist may have to work. Practices can take steps to reduce no-shows, and it's important to measure no-shows monthly and look for any trends.
Create a sense of demand. The first time patients miss an appointment, you must create a sense of demand. Use a script to politely inform them that you had expected them at a certain time. Let them know you want to find another appointment exclusively for them that is at a convenient time, but put them off for at least four weeks. This sends a message that the practice is in high demand for appointments. After one or two weeks, you can contact patients and bring them in sooner, but the message has been clearly sent.
Don't feel that you can't threaten to charge. The second time patients are a no-show, you move into a concept we call "threaten to charge." In this step, we are very polite once again, telling them we expected them at a certain time. We then tell them there is a $100 fee for the missed appointment, but the doctor has asked not to charge it this time. This sends a powerful message that there will be a financial penalty if it happens again; however, patients will almost always thank you for not charging them.
Dr. Roger P. Levin is the CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm, and one of the most sought-after speakers in dentistry. Levin has authored 65 books and more than 4,000 articles on dental practice management and marketing. You can sign up for the Levin Group Tip of the Day.
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