“We are so busy we can’t find room for you in our schedule!”
Patient’s want an appointment not an excuse.
If you pre-appoint most or all of your hygiene patients, you certainly have a satisfying feeling when you look ahead into the appointment book and see little to no openings. Thoughts of “Wow, patients love us”, “We are in demand!”, “We are so busy we may need to add another hygiene day!” go through your mind. When the call comes in from a new patient family asking for two adult new patient evaluations and cleanings plus three children appointments for the same, you are searching frantically to find times that meet all of their schedules. UH, OOH, nothing for weeks or months. Really!
If you owned a furniture store and you didn’t have any living room sofas for sale do you think the customer is going to wait weeks or months for you to stock your showroom? Same principle, when a customer (or patient) is ready to buy that is what they should be able to do.
Many dentists still rely on pre-appointing patients six months out. It’s just something they’ve always done, and they like to know they have a full schedule for weeks or even months in advance. A false sense of security. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance many of these patients will cancel at the last minute or not show up at all. Scheduling six months in advance doesn’t work for a lot of people.
Because the schedule is booked so far in advance, it becomes difficult for new patients to make an appointment. They’re told they have to wait six weeks or more to see the doctor, which is not great customer service and sends the wrong message. Even if these patients schedule an appointment before they hang up, they’re going to keep calling other practices until they find one that can fit them in sooner because they are ready to buy.
Hold time slots in your appointment book based on the average number of new patients that come in for the month for the last six months. New patients are those that received a D0150 or a D0180 evaluation. Hold times on hygiene too to accommodate patients that request the cleaning at the same appointment. For instance, 60 patients, which is an average of 10 patients per month or 2.5 patients a week. That tells you how much time you should reserve in the schedule to meet new patient demand.