Editor's note: Sally McKenzie was a powerful voice in the dental industry until her passing in 2020. We're sharing this article in the spirit of having her high-quality and insightful work live on and continue inspiring readers. Read more about her legacy in the dental profession from Chris Salierno, DDS.
When practice production numbers are down, it’s not only costly, it’s frustrating. Dentists often have no idea why patients aren’t accepting treatment or are not showing up for their appointments. Both their bottom line and their confidence take a hit as dentists are left wondering if they’ll ever meet production goals again.
If you’re going through a spell of lackluster production, there are steps you can take to improve your numbers. These tips can help boost your production numbers and your bottom line.
Add new services
If you haven’t done this in years, it might be time. Patients looking for a new dentist want an up-to-date practice that offers the services they need. Adding services and upgrading equipment will help attract people to your practice. It will also give current patients more reasons to schedule treatment. Not only that, learning new skills helps renew your passion for dentistry while also improving practice efficiencies, factors that lead to increased production.
Consider hiring a treatment coordinator
If patients aren’t accepting treatment, it might be because they don’t understand why they need it. Spending five to 10 minutes trying to explain it to them chairside usually isn’t enough. A treatment coordinator can take as much time as necessary to go over treatment details and educate patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health. This team member should be trained in sales and how to follow up with patients two days after the initial presentation.
Connect with your patients
Patients will be much more likely to schedule recommended treatment if they trust you. Get to know your patients and encourage team members to do the same. Building a rapport with patients will help them feel a connection to your practice, which will keep them loyal to you and open to accepting treatment.
Educating patients also helps establish that connection. Taking the time to educate them shows you care about their well-being. Make sure they understand the value of the services you provide and the possible consequences of skipping treatment. Show them what’s going on in their mouths and explain how you plan to treat it. Look at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate and you’ll soon see production numbers start to rise.
You might also be interested in: Building a bond with your patient: How to do it and why it's a must
Slow treatment room turnaround hurts production numbers, making finding ways to improve clinical efficiencies a priority. I suggest making sure everything you need is in the room before you start treatment and, as your state allows, delegating more tasks to your dental assistant. Try to cut procedure times by 10 minutes, without compromising the quality of dentistry you provide. That small amount of time will do wonders for your production per hour.
Offer financing options
Many patients don’t accept treatment simply because they can’t afford it. Knowing they can make small payments each month instead of writing one big check makes the thought of paying for treatment more manageable. Consider offering third party financing through companies such as CareCredit to help boost production.
Don’t neglect your current patients
While many dentists focus on attracting new patients to their practice to improve production, they often forget about the patients they already have. Focus on keeping your current patients happy and offering them the services they want and need. Provide them with exceptional customer service and a friendly, comfortable environment and these patients will stay loyal to your practice.
Keep in mind it costs five times as much to attract new patients to your practice as it does to keep the ones you already have—and current patients are your biggest referral source. If they leave your office happy, they’ll likely tell family and friends about their great experience. Of course, this helps attract new patients to your practice, which increases production.
Broken appointments cost practices thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year, so you want to do everything you can to prevent them. Confirming appointments certainly helps. Ask patients how they prefer to be contacted, whether it’s via text message, email, or phone, and use that method to contact them two days in advance to confirm they’re coming in.
Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly