How to get rid of empty chairs in a dental office?

October 24, 2018

Our clients often send us the same question: Who is responsible for an empty chair in a dental office?

  • A Dental Front Desk Coordinator?
  • A Dental Office Manager?
  • A Marketing Coordinator?
  • A Service Provider (Digital Agency, Marketing Agency, etc.)?
  • A Practice Owner?
  • A Practice Operation Director?

Our answer is quite simple: EVERYONE! Thus, you should put in place a sophisticated approach to make positive changes.

How to get rid of empty chairs in a dental office?

Step # 1: Analyse Your Dental Practice

  • Q 1: How old is your practice?
  • Q 2: How many dentists work in your practice?
  • Q 3: What is their specialization? (general dentist, etc.)
  • Q 4: Who else works for your practice (front desk coordinator, receptionist, etc.)
  • Q 5: Practice working schedule
  • Q 6:  Practice location
  • Q 7: Demographic characteristics of people in the dental practice area
  • Q 8: How many dental practices are around your practice?
  • Q 9: How many patients does your practice have per day?
  • Q 10: How many patients does your practice want to have?
  • Q 11: What is the monthly ratio between new and existing patients?
  • Q 12: What have been done already to acquire and retain your patients?

Step # 2: Conduct a SWOT Analysis 

Strengths (external factors)

  1. What advantages does your practice have? For example, an existing clients’ database, a great location, etc.
  2. What do you do better than anyone else?
  3. What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can't?
  4. What do people in your market see as your strengths? For example, a location, a pricing.

Weaknesses (external factors)

  1. What could you improve? For example, scheduling techniques, SMM, a recall approach, a patients’ attraction via a custom dental website, a visibility, a marketing plan.
  2. What should you avoid? For example, placing a promotion near another dental practices locations.
  3. What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses? For example, a non-availability 24/7.

Opportunities (external factors)

  1. What good opportunities can you spot? For example, participate in an educational event in a community centre nearby.
  2. What interesting trends are you aware of? For example, using a data to analyze the current patients’ structure and to create a continuous treatment plan offers for your patients.

Threats (external factors)

  1. What obstacles do you face? For example, your competitors invest a lot in marketing and use an efficient recall systems and scheduling techniques.
  2. Does changing technology threaten your position? For example, yes, because you should constantly look for new approach to reach your clients (via mobile).
  3. Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
  4. Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?

Step # 3: Analyse a Practice's Data

Conduct a front desk calls analysis: The ratio of bookings versus calls / The "no show" ratio / The rescheduling ratio.

Analyse a patients' retention index: Analyse if a practice just spends money to acquire new patients and doesn't retain enough existing patients.

Analyse a geographical area: Define if there are newly moved to this area and organize welcoming  campaigns by sending them invitations with special welcome offers from the dentist (costs: offers design, printing, Canada Post).

Analyse practice’s data: Define the most popular/less popular procedure, most popular/less popular dentist, most efficient/less efficient front desk coordinator. We suggest marketing campaigns and training actions in accordance with the data received.

Step # 4: Put in Place a Practice Continuous Development Plan

Conduct an educational event for people from local communities: Announce the event via Facebook and target local audience. Create an event on eventbrite to give people an opportunity to register and to see how many visitors you should anticipate.

Put in place an Instagram marketing: To showcase facilities, to stream live videos from a dental office.

Put in place a Facebook marketing: To educate community, to showcase facilities, to stream live videos from a dental office.

Put in place a Community marketing: Offer educational podcasts for social media community. Partner with local community centre and create the special offer for its members.

Create educational podcasts: Create them and publish them on the iTunes.

Put in place a YouTube marketing: To educate community, to showcase facilities, to show testimonials.

Put in place a Campaign to convert website visitors to patients: Integrate a scheduler to let patients book their visits directly from the website.

Put in place a Newsletter campaign: Create a contest to get more newsletter subscribers and start to communicate with them on a weekly basis.

Send via Canada Post invitations for a checkup and whitening

Put in Place PPC campaigns: Facebook, Instagram, Google.

Organize visits to a local school with an educational event: Prepare an information for children about an importance of oral hygiene. This information should be left in each kid’s diary.

Partner with a local community centre for New Canadians: Place there a printed announcement informing “we accept new patients”.

Apply  the following marketing campaigns: Back to School, Halloween, Grey November, Black Friday, Winter Holidays, Spring Holidays, Summer Holidays.

Educate front-desk coordinators and office managers. We provide an access to our online educational platform and we also train them in person so that they could learn and efficiently apply:

  1. First call from a new patient script
  2. Patient welcoming scripts
  3. Reminder call scripts
  4. Problem-solving scripts
  5. Account receivable scripts
  6. Rescheduling scripts
  7. Cancellation scripts
  8. Patient discharge from a practice script

Improve patients' experience

  • Add an educational materials and procedure descriptions to the waiting area
  • Add  a TV showing procedures videos in the waiting area
  • Teach front-desk coordinators to schedule new patients 20 minutes before the procedure to give them time to make a paperwork
  • Teach front-desk coordinators to always call patients to confirm their visit
  • Teach front-desk coordinators to send before and after visits emails to give patients an information about an upcoming procedure to reduce their anxiety and to know how they feel
  • Teach front-desk coordinators to always mention that a practice accepts new patients

Put in place a recall system

  • SMS reminders 1 week, 3 days, 1 day before an appointment
  • Email reminders 1 week, 3 days, 1 day before an appointment
  • Call reminder 1 day before an appointment
  • SMS and email reminders before holidays with special offers

Enable a 24/7 access for practice's patients: Sign an agreement with an answering company so that a practice can accept calls 24/7.

Enable a Financing option for dental clients: Partner with a company providing a medical credits and to add an information about it in each communication with patients (printed, verbal and digital).

Outcomes

Preparation time: 1 month, but some actions we can put in place immediately (like a front desk coordinators education, information in the elevator, website update and marketing campaigns setup).

In 4 months:

  • Practice acquires 20 - 25 new patients per a dentist per month
  • Existing patients schedule regular checkups 1 per 6 month
  • 1 of 2 existing patients brings from 1 to 3 friends or family members

Continuous improvement:

Continue to analyse weak points (for example, some front desk coordinators may be transferred to invoicing and billing because her/his phone communication is not good)

Summary:

  • Conduct Practice's Analysis
  • Use data to create a Practice Continuous Development Plan
  • Establish KPI (the minimum number of patients per person per month)
  • Apply a Practice Continuous Development Plan
  • Check results each week
  • Adjust a Practice Continuous Development Plan 
  • Check results each week
  • Repeat the most successful steps

We are accepting new clients: We act as your Virtual Chief Patients Acquisition and Retention Officer.

Each practice is unique and we will guide you and help your practice to get a maximum return on your objectives:

  • Get more patients
  • Optimize your digital ecosystem
  • Use data analytics to improve practice outcomes

Our services include:

  1. Initial Practice Diagnostics
  2. Free of charge access for all practice employees to the Comprehensive Dental Office Management 360 Online Course
  3. Practice Continuous Development Plan Creation
  4. Practice Continuous Development Roadmap Creation
  5. KPI establishment (number of new patients per week, acceptable cancellation index, acceptable “no show index”)
  6. Ongoing Practice Continuous Development Roadmap integration

You work with experts in: Management, marketing, IT, digital marketing, cyber security experts, dental practice owners from Canada and the US.

The benefits you get:

  • More patients
  • Optimized digital ecosystem
  • Patients’ outcome improvement

Drop us a line today: go@dentist.business

By Elena Pomazanova,  a Dentist.Business Owner

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