Posted October 5, 2017 by Natalie L.
One of the very first things you learn about the rhythm of a dental practice is how certain days are super busy, and others are a bit slower. There are frequently shifts that follow the change in seasons, weather, the economy and school holidays.
When there is a sudden production downshift in the practice though, it’s only natural for a wave of panic to come over an otherwise cheery group of team members. How does this happen? And, what are the best ways to weather the storm?
Office systems and processes
Inadequate or absent systems is a leading cause of stagnant practices. Establishing a process for every part of your practice, with clearly defined duties and responsibilities, helps it run like a well-oiled machine, and in turn provides greater patient satisfaction, stronger referral rates and higher recall retention. A bit of data gathering and analysis will tell you where the gaps are, and suggest ways to create structure, or eliminate extraneous steps in the process. A well-documented process or SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) will be especially beneficial when bringing on a new team member or when review current processes for improvement. We understand the importance of establishing processes, so the XLDent new client experience includes a set of SOP templates to get the practice started.
New Patient Growth
Does your practice participate in Social Media? There’s no escaping the pervasiveness of social media and its ever-expanding reach into our lives. Your business will be missing out on the current word-of-mouth that brings in new patients every day, and helps you retain the ones you already have. How does it do that? By building your online presence, 24/7! Today’s consumer is more likely to choose your office if they can easily find you on social media, and get a sense of your style and see the reviews your current patients have posted.
Have you stopped taking certain insurance plans or are considering participating in new ones? One study showed that 42% of people would leave their current dentist if they were no longer in network with their insurance plan. In fact, 59% said that was the number one factor in whether or not they would make an appointment at a new dentist! The number two factor was the physical location/proximity to where they live and work.1 Be sure that everyone knows how close and convenient your office is for their needs.
Integration of new technologies
Don’t underestimate the importance of being on the cutting-edge! Especially to the millennial or younger group of patients, your first “technology” impression can make all the difference. Are you sending automated reminders to your patients? Do you have an online portal so that your patients can login anytime, anywhere, and verify appointments or make payments on their account? Go paperless as soon as possible (if you are not already). Do you still present needed treatment on paper, or can you show treatment right on a TV or Tablet PC, then email a copy to the patient? All these ideas add to your image as a modern, tech-savvy office, that meets their patients’ needs.
If you have more downtime right now, you can use it wisely by updating your software, attending educational courses, and allowing time for staff to become fully trained on your computer software, so they are ready to go when business rebounds and the schedule overflows again.
These may seem like minor changes, but in a practice facing sluggish times, they could make the difference between two or twenty new patients next month. When you see a few blanks in your schedule, look at them as opportunities to prepare for the next big wave.