Howard Speaks: Getting to ‘Yes’ By Tracking ‘No’ by Dr. Howard Farran

Howard Speaks: Getting to ‘Yes’ By Tracking ‘No’ 

by Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, publisher, Dentaltown magazine

If you’re not tracking the number of patients your office turns away by saying “no,” you’ll miss out on opportunities to say “yes” to getting more patients in treatment.

In an era of increased competition and added convenience, it’s not enough for your practice to offer quality dental care only from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays. I’m also always amazed by the number of practices that close up shop for an hour while the staff takes a lunch, yet still wonder why their numbers aren’t where they could be. Lunchtime should be prime time as far as your scheduling is concerned, because that’s your patients’ most frequent opportunity to leave their workplace during a weekday and head to your practice for treatment. Why would you literally shut patients out of your practice during this high-demand window?

How regularly is your front desk team turning away callers who ask if the practice offers evening appointments or Saturday hours? You won’t know if nobody tracks those calls, and if you’re seeing a lot of them, that indicates an opportunity to increase your organic flow of new patients. But you’d have to change your “no” answers to “yes” answers to make that happen!

Knowing the numbers

Getting your whole team involved in this process is what will really pay dividends. When your team comes into the office each morning, do they know the practice’s breakeven costs for the day? Do they know you’ve got to make $2,500 just to pay the bills? If you’re at $1,500 because you’ve had some cancellations, maybe instead of closing at noon like you always do, lunch is scheduled only after you hit your break-even point, so you could come back after that and make nothing but net income. Or at least stay open and stagger the staff schedules so someone can always be around to take calls and see patients!

How many times do patients call with a dental emergency, hoping to get squeezed in that day? If it happens frequently but you’re unable to fi t them in because all of your chairs are booked for the day, this is the time to consider adding another operatory. Again, it comes down to tracking how many times you have to say “no” to a patient, and figuring out when it finally makes sense to change your answer to “yes.”

Your front desk team should also be tracking how many patients call to ask if your practice accepts their particular insurance plan, or Medicare. You need to know what the demand is: Are you getting asked to take a dental plan four times a month, or four times a day?

The results should help determine your decisions about what you choose to carry—or not carry. But you won’t ever have the answers if you’re not tracking the questions. You can’t get to “yes” unless you pay attention to how often you’re saying “no”!

Can you think of more situations where you realized your practice was missing out on getting more patients into treatment? Please share your thoughts and suggestions for readers in the comments section under this article.

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