If you think the secret to increasing productivity is to get busier, think again.
Don’t aim for busy. Aim for better. You see, how busy you are doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with profits. For example, have you ever gone somewhere for an appointment and found a packed waiting room? Did seeing all the people waiting make you believe the business must be bringing in a ton of money?
Or did it just frustrate you?
What if a packed waiting room only means inefficiency and chaos in the business? Surely you have worked with or known someone who is great at appearing busy while actually getting very little done.
My name is Jennifer Pearce. I am the founder, owner, and executive lead coach at Prosperity Dental Solutions. I’ve been helping dental practices achieve increased productivity and profits for over 23 years, and I can help you too.
Signs Your Business is Busy but not Productive
A waiting room full of patients is not a good thing.
Life is hectic. People are busy. Including your patients. No one appreciates having to wait. Your patients are most likely already anxious about going to the dentist. You don’t want to add frustration.
Realize this—if your patients are waiting, they have time to go online and publish a review about their wait. I doubt that’s the kind of reviews you want.
Other signs your practice is busy but not productive:
- Team members are missing lunches.
- Negative patient reviews that mention long waits.
- Too much focus on filling the schedule without concerns about patient care.
- Your schedule is booked out too far, making patients wait extended periods for routine exams.
- Patients are leaving.
- Profits are not growing.
Secret #1 to Increase Productivity—Increased Patient Satisfaction and Trust
The most important thing you and your staff can do to increase productivity is to increase patient satisfaction and trust. Patients who trust you and are happy tell their friends and leave positive reviews. This can become your best marketing tool. When potential patients are seeking a new dentist, reviews and word-of-mouth matter. A lot. Do not overlook this powerful marketing tool. Instead, take advantage of it.
Unexpected things happen in businesses. A full waiting room should be the unexpected instead of the norm. If it happens too often, changes should be made.
But you do want to prepare for the unexpected. When patients must wait, minimize their perception of waiting. Have a television, magazines, and the free use of WIFI available. Offer them something to drink.
Make sure your team understands the importance of letting your patients know what to expect. Be upfront. A simple, “I’m sorry about the unexpected delay” can go far. It should be followed by an estimated wait time. If it goes beyond the amount of time you tell them, your staff should get an update from the back and pass the information along.
Communicating with your patients lets them feel recognized and respected. It also allows them an opportunity to check email, get on social media, or make a phone call.
Go the extra mile. Have a place in patient notes to keep up with things important to them. If a patient mentions an upcoming vacation or important event during a visit, notating this gives your team an awesome opportunity to ask them how it went when they come back. Maybe a patient divulges their senior is about to graduate high school and head off to college. On their next visit, you can ask how the adjustment is going. These little things speak volumes.
When it comes to your hygienists, rather than overbooking them or keeping them hopping from room to room, pad their schedule for an extra five or ten minutes with each patient. This allows them to engage with patients as they build rapport and trust.
The more your patients trust your hygienists, the more likely they are to agree to needed treatments. Especially when the hygienist has the time to provide education and answer questions.
Case acceptance increases production.
When patients feel cared for and know they can trust you, they understand their treatment isn’t about money. This makes them happy. And more likely to leave positive reviews and ratings.
Secret #2 To Increase Productivity—A Streamlined Practice
A practice that runs like a well-choreographed ballet is efficient, and this increases productivity and patient satisfaction.
A backlog at the sterilization center slows everyone down. Make sure everything that may be needed is organized and readily available. Create a flow system with an entrance and an exit so team members aren’t bumping into each other.
Having a separate entrance to treatment rooms for the dental assistant is an excellent idea. This allows her to enter discreetly without having to walk around the patient’s feet, which can interrupt flow and make your patients uncomfortable.
Coordinate treatment rooms so that everything you and your assistant needs is well-stocked and within reach without having to roll around in the stool. When your supplies are organized properly, everything flows better. Four-handed dentistry increases productivity.
Disorganization leads to hunting for supplies, which wastes time and can increase anxiety for patients.
Secret #3 to Increase Productivity—Utilize Technology
Does your team confirm appointments? Perform everything involving scheduling?
If so, you may want to look into modern technology. An investment in software may be just what you need. Sure, there is a cost involved, but it’s not as much as paying hourly rates to your team. Automated systems provide reliability when it comes to confirming appointments and sending patient reminders. They can also provide you with statistics for important information like missed and completed appointments.
When patients decline to set a follow-up, an automated system can text or call them with a reminder when it’s time to reschedule.
Some systems allow for online self-scheduling. This not only saves your team time, but it allows patients who have an urgent need to schedule while your office is closed.
Have a system in place that allows your hygienists to set follow-up appointments. This increases rapport building and makes it more likely patients will schedule and show up. It also saves time for patients and reduces the workload for front-office team members.
If your practice still hands out a clipboard and pen to patients, you’re not as efficient as you could be. Reduce work for your team and improve accuracy by having a system that allows new patients to fill out paperwork online before their appointment. Invest in laptops or tablets for the patients who didn’t fill them out ahead of time or for returning patients who need to update information.
Is your practice paper charting? If yes, consider an upgrade. It’s worth the cost. Save our landfills and stop the needless slaughter of trees for the average 10,000 pages a year paper charting requires. Electronic charting is not only “green,” but it improves aesthetics by eliminating chart clutter and helps keep you HIPPA compliant.
Keep your finances in order and secure with today’s technology. This also increases accuracy, as human error can wreak havoc on important numbers.
Looking for more ways to increase productivity in your dental practice?
With over 23 years’ experience assisting dentists improve their practices, I have the experience and know-how needed to help you become more productive and profitable. Contact me online today or call (817) 975-4576 to schedule your free consultation.