Habitual Lateness or Early Departure Ruining Your Mood?

How often is the practice thrown off by patients who are habitually late or just don’t show up even after being confirmed?

Everyone knows how annoying this is and what it does to the schedule let alone the doctors nerves.  

What about staff members who do the same thing?  Late every day or a variation of days but still consistently late.  And then there are those who can never stay past 5:00 because of a personal reason.  They can’t be counted on to help with a last minute emergency.

The question is — what do you say to stop this behavior?

With patients, explaining to them how their appointment time is valuable and telling them what will be done during the time so that they understand how important it is to be on time may help.  “Mrs. Brown, your appointment is 3:00 to 4:00 pm. This time is reserved just for you.  During that time we will be giving you some anesthetic to make you comfortable and then we will be performing tooth colored fillings on three teeth(show in picture).  This procedure will take the full hour to complete so it is important to be on time.”

What about late staff members?  Shouldn’t they know not to be late?

Typically this is an insidious problem that starts with five to ten minutes and then grows to a half hour.  No one usually says anything at five minute or even ten but then at thirty minutes you are gnashing your teeth.

As a Dental Office Manager you must enforce arrival and departure times by:

Step 1:  Clearly state to all staff the arrival and departure times that are necessary for the proper management of patients and procedures.  If they are to be in the office 15 minutes before the first patient–make sure this is understood. Have this in the Employee Manual that they can sign.

Step 2: Establish what would constitute a legitimate reason for arriving late or for having to depart early.

Step 3:  Establish a policy of finding a team member to fill-in for the absentee or to replace the person when they anticipate being late or having to leave early.  This is the responsibility of the staff member to find their own replacement.

Time management is not a strong point for many people.  The rest of us who are on time need to establish boundaries and enforce accountability with communicating the importance of being on time.



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