Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2013 10 Front Desk

Recare and reactivation in your dental office: An interview with Dr. Rhonda Savage

April 15, 2014
Recare and reactiviation keeps dental patients coming to your practice

Q: Why is recare and reactivation one of the most important jobs in a dental practice?
Recare and reactivation is Marketing 101. You stay connected to your data base (client base). This is one of the most critical jobs in dentistry, yet it's also the easiest to shove under the bus! If we don't call, patients think we don't care. You've got to think like your patients. When hygiene goes up, the entire practice goes up. Two thirds of restorative comes out of the hygiene department in a general practice.

"I just want to do dentistry!" Is your schedule causing you frustration?
Scheduling frustrations: A great dental team meeting topic

Q:If this is so important, why is it often not a focus?
Front desk busyness. Often there isn't time, there may be a lack of training, or the front desk isn't structured properly with clearly defined job descriptions. Lack of understanding of the importance or recare and reactivation. It's often the least favorite job in a dental office, yet one of the most important. When people understand how important this work is, it changes their focus. It's a formidable job, or there's no system is in place. Most offices don't have an efficient system with clearly defined accountability. It must become easier for the staff to do. And the staff needs to understand that they're capable.

Q: How would you involve the team in this process?
Understand that there’s no downtime in a dental practice. It's all about teamwork. Check out the article I wrote that defines "Where should people be when” by emailing me at [email protected].

Q: What system do you recommend?
One person must be in charge. You need a system of accountability, and yes, the doctor should measure the results. Work off a master report. Make notes in the patient’s computer record. The job takes two to four hours per week per full-time doctor. There's much more. For in-depth information, review the content in the DVD, "The Savage Front Desk," which you can find at

Q: What are the best times of day to call?
The best times are 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The best numbers to call are cell phone first, work second, home third.

Q: How often should they call?
Don’t call too often. You don't want to look needy or desperate. Call, wait one to two months, call, wait one to two months, send a postcard, call, wait one to two months, send a letter, call, wait one to two months. Over a 14-month period, you should call and mail at least seven times. Then, don't lose contact. Stay in touch two times per year.

Q: Is that it? Should the patient be inactivated?
Yes, but stay in touch. Don’t send a “You’ve been deactivated letter” or the patient will think he or she has been fired. Just because a patient is inactivated doesn't mean you cannot contact them. Only contact good patients, not ones who owe you money or don’t show up for their appointments.

Q: That sounds like a lot of work. Is there an easier way?
Yes, there are automated systems that can add a lot of value to your practice. Patient newsletters help you stay in touch. Your newsletters have value! You'll stay top of mind, in touch, and have pass along value. Birthday cards. Emailed cards or special reactivation cards have a lot of value. nything in a greeting card format. It's the highest open rate of any mail piece.

Q: What about the bottom third of the patient base? How would you recommend they be contacted?
By automation. Have a system in place. Otherwise, use the system discussed above. Remember that recare and reactivation is Marketing 101. Marketing is NOT a one trick pony. You need to approach it like a thoroughbred vs. a one trick pony if you want to win the race. It's about internal, external, and interactive marketing. Most dental practices are faced with decreasing case acceptance and according to the ADA, fewer appointments.

All practices need to invest in marketing, but to what degree? It depends on the needs of the practice. Dentists need to be doing the dentistry, and most dentists don't have a marketing background. Your practice needs and deserves a customized approach that is unique to your demographic area.

Rhonda Savage, DDS, is the CEO of Miles Global, an international dental training and consulting firm. Her speaking and publishing topics include women’s health issues, leadership, and business management. Her 35 years in dentistry include roles as a dental assistant, a front office staff member, and a private practice dentist. Dr. Savage knows the demands of quality patient care, leading a winning team, and running a successful business. Visit for her training products. Contact her marketing company at To reach her regarding speaking to your organization or consulting services, email her at [email protected].