Courtney Roberts

Courtney Roberts

FAADOM, Onboarding Director

10 magic words to reduce the empty chair expense

Dental practice overhead is the proverbial elephant in the room. It’s extremely large, brightly colored, and hard to miss. It wants you to pay attention to it. The age-old wisdom of how to eat an elephant is “one bite at a time”, and the first bite of the dental practice overhead elephant is the empty chair expense. This is an expense that every practice can relate to at one point or another, but the good news is that it can be immediately remedied on a day-to-day basis. You just need to use these 10 magic words to reduce the empty chair expense in your practice.

It just takes a little magic 

Just like dental professionals, patients’ time is valuable. Scheduling patients for follow-up restorative treatment can prove difficult as you have to manage the variables of work schedules, school schedules, and last minute plans. Most days it can feel like you need a magic wand to align all of the stars. But you don’t need a magic wand, just magic words:

“I can make time to take care of this today.”

These 10 magic words will wow the majority of your patients. They appreciate not having to make time to come back for another appointment right away. It saves 100% of their time and reduces the risk of them leaving the office without a follow-up appointment. 

Go the extra mile

Dental practices across the country think outside of the box and go the extra mile for patients when it comes to accommodating an appointment. Whether it’s calling an Uber or Lyft for a patient when their car won’t start, or entertaining their young child during an appointment —  maintaining a servant mindset with patients will help them get their much needed dental treatment while also making sizable deposits into their emotional bank accounts. What is the wildest thing you have done to keep or convert an appointment? Email us at, we’d love to hear!

Make sure everyone is on the same page

Eliminating the empty chair expense requires setting same-day treatment protocols in your practice. No team member wants to promise a patient same-day treatment, only for the next steps to be mishandled and the patient ends up leaving with a sour experience. 

Here are some easy ways to prepare for same-day treatment and execute it seamlessly:

  • Address holes in the schedule during morning meetings
  • Discuss which scheduled patients have outstanding restorative or hygiene treatment
  • Share feedback on which patients would be more receptive to same-day treatment
  • Deep-dive into any family members that usually accompany the patient to an appointment (e.g. mother, father, child) that are overdue
  • Cross-train staff on various office responsibilities

A great time to cross-train staff is during monthly team meetings. Make sure the clinical team can check a patient out and take payment. All of the administrative team should be able to set up a clinical operatory and alert the provider that the patient is ready. Getting everyone on the same page will increase efficiency, productivity, and patient experience.


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