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Set up your dental office scheduling coordinator for success

Feb. 13, 2018
A scheduling coordinator can make a world of difference in your dental office by getting your schedule organized and on track. This leads to less stress during your workdays. But make sure the person has the tools to succeed.
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management
IF YOUR CHAOTIC SCHEDULE IS A SOURCE OF STRESS AND FRUSTRATION, then hiring a SCHEDULING COORDINATOR could be exactly what you need to get your office back on track. This team member can help streamline your schedule, boost practice productivity, and raise your revenues. But that won’t happen if you don’t provide the person with proper guidance from the beginning.

As nice as it would be, you can’t expect your new scheduling coordinator to magically fix all of your problems. As the practice CEO, it’s your job to offer the tools your scheduling coordinator needs to succeed and to set the person up for success. How, you ask? Read on.

Develop a detailed job description

Just like you would for any job description you create, include the responsibilities that come with the position as well as the necessary skills and temperament. Use the job description to help you find the right person for the role. Once that person is on board, the job description will make your expectations clear and leave no confusion regarding what the job entails. Think of it as your scheduling coordinator’s road map to success.

Provide training

If your scheduling coordinator isn’t trained properly, this new team member you have so much hope for will likely do your practice more harm than good. It doesn’t matter how experienced the new coordinator is. Without training, the person will feel lost.

As part of the training process, make sure your coordinator knows not to schedule you to merely keep you busy, but to meet daily production goals. Train the person to confirm appointments with patients two days in advance to reduce the number of last-minute cancellations and no-shows, and have him or her develop a plan to fill the openings created by broken appointments.

Skipping out on training to save time or money will only lead to more problems in the long run. When properly trained, your coordinator will have the confidence he or she needs to excel in the role, and the necessary skills to take your days from chaotic to productive.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

It’s never a good idea to leave the scheduling coordinator guessing about how long procedures will take. When you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself with only 30 minutes to complete what’s typically a 90-minute procedure. This will completely throw off your day. Make sure both you and your assistant communicate times with the coordinator so this problem never occurs.

Stress the importance of leaving openings for new patients

When new patients call to make an appointment, they don’t want to wait weeks to see you. In fact, even if they do schedule an appointment one month out, they’ll likely call another practice or two to see if they can get in sooner. If this is happening in your practice, it could be because your coordinator is scheduling appointments six months out and leaving no room for new patients.

Losing new patients before they even make it to their first appointment isn’t a good way to grow your practice. To avoid this, tell your coordinator to leave open slots in the schedule for new patients. That way, when they call, new patients can get in to see the doctor quickly, making the first experience with your practice a positive one. To determine how many openings you should leave, look at new patient activity over the last six months. If you treated 60 new patients, for example, that’s an average of 10 per month or 2.5 patients per week.

If you’ve decided to hire a scheduling coordinator, you’re probably pretty excited about what this new team member can do for your practice. You’ll finally have a streamlined schedule and fewer stressful days. But this will only happen if your scheduling coordinator has the tools and training he or she needs to excel, and that comes from you, the practice CEO. Give this team member the necessary guidance and soon you’ll have a more productive schedule and robust bottom line.


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How to turn fearful dental patients into loyal patients
The dos and don’ts of firing someone from your dental practice


Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her at (877) 777-6151 or [email protected].
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About the Author

Sally McKenzie | CEO of McKenzie Management

Sally McKenzie was CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. For over 30 years, Sally immersed herself in techniques, systems, and methods to improve the performance of dental practices. She was a dental auxiliary, dental business administrator, and dental educator for several years prior to founding McKenzie Management in 1980.

Read more about her legacy in the dental profession from Chris Salierno, DDS.