For many of you, you'll just be returning from the Christmas holidays. With any luck you'll be coming back feeling rested and ready for the new year. The new year is a time to either start fresh or get started on something you've been putting off for a while. For those of you that are looking for ways to improve your existing processes, we have some ideas!

Firstly, pre-book recall appointments. This one is really easy but takes discipline. By scheduling your patients for their next appointment prior to them leaving your office you'll save yourself time in the future. Tracking, contacting, and scheduling recall appointments is tedious, daunting and very time consuming. Pre-booking takes only a minute.

 

To do this easily, do not give your patient a choice to delay scheduling. Don't take this the wrong way. You don't need to handcuff them to a chair until they agree to an appointment. I just mean to phrase the question to them appropriately. Never say, “would you like to schedule your next appointment now or later”. Path of least resistance will tell you that majority of your patients will opt to schedule later. Instead say, “Your next appointment will be 6 months from now. How does June 24th at 4pm sound”. If the patient isn't sure, schedule the appointment anyway and let them know they can adjust it when you remind them a few weeks prior.

Pre-booking takes less time than scheduling in the future. You'll also find patients will miss less recall appointments. Thus better care for your patients and increased revenue for your office.

The second improvement is asking for referrals. Hardly anyone does this. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry claims that 63% of new patients find you by word of mouth! Does that sound right in your office?

Considering dental is becoming highly competitive I urge you utilize your happy patients. Asking for referrals takes very little time. If you do this in person, ask them to mention you to their friends during the upcoming weekend.

If you use an automated patient communication service, ensure the service is asking for you. Because it is automated there is no extra time required by you or your staff to start receiving referrals on a regular basis. This can be done when sending a thank you email.

And always acknowledge the referrer when you receive a referral. It's not always necessary to give them a gift or any sort of payment, but if you do, keep it small.

The final improvement is to automate everything possible. Of course, this wouldn't mean to have a computer do your checkups for you. The more time you can save means the more time you can spend with your patients. By cutting out automatable tasks, such as appointment reminders, online marketing, or marketing promotions, you can actually cut delays from your patient wait times.

It's no secret that your patients hate waiting to see you. Do everything you can to have them in the chair on time. Consider their time to be more important than yours and you'll have very happy patients that willing to refer you.

Start the year off right by making a few minor adjustments to your processes. Just following these three suggestions will show up on your revenue at the end of the year. Small improvements can have a huge impact.