Only today matters. You can’t capture the lost time and money that you could have, would have, and should have had if that patient had actually shown up for their appointment. Knowing that we will always have patients that cancel or don’t show is not a reason not to minimize this huge drag on our production. The first stop needs to be some of the simplest, most often ignored reasons you have holes in your schedule.
First, consider what would happen if you had one crown a day not show up: $200,000 lost in one year. Maybe it is just a recall appointment a day: $20,000 in a year. Losing just one thing a day can ruin your profit. This is especially true when most practices don’t have any profit. If you are taking home about 25%-30% of what you personally produced, that’s just what you would have paid someone else to do what you do. It is just your hourly income, not profit after expenses.
So, here you go. The top seven reasons that today sucks. I am leaving off the obvious concerns of time, fear, and money as we look at the areas that most of us overlook.
- You confirmed the patient too soon: Anything earlier than 24 hours is too early.
- Your staff never really confirmed the patient at all: Calling and leaving a message is not confirming, telling a third party that someone else has an appointment is not confirming. Using software with texts and emails is not confirming. Only a one on one conversation will assure a patient in the chair today.
- Making an appointment with someone who owes you money will almost guarantee that they will not show: People who owe you money never show up, never refer patients to you, and will be the number one patient that sues you when you try to collect what they owe.
- Scheduling patients too far in the future: Your cancellation and no-show rate can double or triple by not being able to get patients in for treatment inside of 4-10 days. That’s not even working days. That’s days. They call Thursday, and four days would be Sunday and 10 days would be the following Saturday. This is huge blockage that holds way too many practices back.
- Apathy of your staff and/or doctor: Successful dentistry has always been and will always be about relationships. If patients feel like even one member of your team just does not care, they are never coming back.
- Your inability to satisfactorily address fitting the cost of treatment into their budget: Doing everything perfectly then failing to be able to help the patient fit the treatment into their budget will be a killer when today rolls around.
- Trust: The definition says it well. A firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. This is the emotional side of why you have a hole in your schedule. Somehow your staff or you missed the symptoms of a lack of commitment or “ownership” of the patient for your treatment presentation. A symptom of this is someone making an appointment while all the time knowing that they will never show up. They were just looking for a non-combative way of getting out of the office. The phantom list of needs will be different with every patient. It takes training and a staff with great people skills to nip this in the bud.
You only have one chance to make today great. The problem is that today was planned and secured way back when that patient came in a week or two ago. You either check the boxes to their list of needs, or fall short. Take the time to track your cancellations or no-shows and commit to knocking it down below 10%. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS