October 4, 2016 -- Most dentists I speak with look forward to November and December. Not only because they don't need to shave or there are lots of holiday celebrations, but because November and December are the months in dentistry when production is easy, the schedule is full, and patients from long ago resurge and reactivate.
Here are four steps you can take to ensure November and December set you up for financial success.
1. Hygiene reappointment rate
The most overlooked metric in a dental practice is the hygiene reappointment rate, yet it is the most important number to track if you are looking to grow your practice. Anything less than 95% is too low; less than that percentage and your practice is trending down to where your attrition rate is too high.
In October, print out your list of patients without a hygiene appointment and get them on the schedule in the next three months. What you do now impacts the schedule in six months.
2. It's CPA time
Now is the time to schedule a meeting with your certified public accountant (CPA) or financial consultant. You might be able to take advantage of certain tax benefits if you know where your financials are at for the year. Meeting with your financial consultant right before tax payments doesn't do you any good and is too late to take advantage of any 2016 benefits. Make this a priority for you and your business.
3. Unused insurance benefits
Reminding your patients about their unused insurance benefits is not a unique marketing tactic, so it's even more important for you to stand out above the rest. Instead of using your autoresponder system to email a blast campaign letting all of your patients know they need to use up their insurance benefits, try calling them during evening hours and talking to them specifically about their insurance plan. Now is the time to educate them on what they have left, how they can use it, and other matters that might arise.
Their outlay may not be much more out of their pocket, but it can make a significant different for yours. For right or wrong, many people rely on their healthcare providers to educate them on their own insurance plans. I know of many offices that have hired a full-time staff member to navigate the insurance industry, because it can be too overwhelming and scary for the layperson. Even dentists use the excuse that they don't know anything about insurance to get out of talking about covered benefits for fear of making a mistake and dentists are around it all day long.
4. Expand capacity
The third quarter of the year is an excellent time to give your capacity a boost and build your active patient base. Consider hiring a temporary assistant or extending hours by creatively working with the team you have in place. You could even add a day or two to open capacity for new patients, cosmetic appointments, or patients looking to have a whiter smile. Experience suggests people are more aware of their smile during the holidays or big events than any other time of the year. You can capitalize on this by offering a new patient special and then placing them in your confirmation process by giving them their next hygiene appointment.
With a sudden faster pace and more patients on the schedule, things can quickly turn from productive to stressful. Here are some tips to navigate the additional pressure from end-of-year scheduling.
Lastly, to make your success with less stress it all comes down to problem-solving, planning, and prioritizing. When you give yourself time to prepare and be strategic, life is full of possibilities.
Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners and has been working in the area of stress management and resiliency training for more than 25 years. Learn about her services at www.jenbutlerpartners.com, or contact her at jen@JenButlerPartners.com. You can learn about her Catalyst Seminars and download a free e-book.
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