When you’re trying to manage a successful dental practice, the traditional thought is the more patients you schedule, the greater success of an office that yields more revenue. Seasoned dentists will tell you differently as a productive office does not always mean you want your schedule to be packed full. Initially it seems counterproductive to schedule fewer dental visits, but there are several notable reasons why scheduling fewer dental appointments is actually better for your office in the long-run.
Spend more personalized time with patients.
There is only one of you, and unless you employ associate dentists, spending quality time with patients is going to take a hit if you’re overscheduling. Think of all the new patients you schedule and how it takes time to build a rapport and learn about their needs. Running between dental operatories while trying to diagnose, treatment plan, and simply have a friendly conversation is stressful and unproductive if you have too many patients in the schedule.
Instead, stagger patients and schedule smarter. Book new patients in the morning when you have more time to spend with them, as a new dental appointment traditionally takes 60 to 90 minutes.
Schedule consults for larger, more challenging cases when you don’t have as many patients so you can focus on that patient and make sure they are comfortable with the treatment. You’ll notice revenue actually increasing when you work on quality of patient care and not quantity.
Fewer dental appointments gives better work-life balance.
Scheduling fewer dental appointments is beneficial because it gives you a chance to appreciate the profession. Running between quick, poor-quality visits is simply exhausting and over time creates a stressful career. How many years can you work in an environment where there is no down time or you always feel pressured to see a patient?
Adjust your schedule by looking at quality dental coverage and offering patients paying out-of-pocket in-office plans or zero financing. Consider dropping lower paying insurance plans that actually cost you money in the long run. You will quickly notice how you actually enjoy coming to work because you get to breathe more, and you’ll appreciate the high-quality dental care you provide your patients.
Specialize in your office.
There is nothing wrong with bread-and-butter dentistry. According to “Dental Economics,” bread-and-butter dentistry can be extremely profitable, but if you are the type of dentist who likes to take their time on more challenging treatment cases, you’ll face more problems in high-volume offices.
Consider implementing a high-producing specialty like dental implants or orthodontics. It takes fewer patients to make the same (or hopefully more) profit because the return on investment is much larger for speciality cases. Orthodontics is a highly lucrative field that does not require as many patients nor as many dental materials as general dentistry.
Work efficiently, not more.
Rather than jamming in patients to a schedule, think about planning your day to be the most profitable with as few patients as possible. If a patient is coming in for a hygiene visit, but has an overdue treatment, ask the patient if they would like to complete their restorative visit in one visit instead of two or three. This way, you’re maximizing your time and the patient’s benefits in a single dental visit instead of spreading it across multiple appointments.
Schedule dental appointments that are slightly longer so that you don’t need to waste chair time at another dental visit for a procedure that can be completed in one. In order for this to be successful, you need to have a well-trained team and your patient on board. This means having patients who know you value their time instead of delivering sub-optimal treatment plans that cause them to miss work or family events.
Get more referrals.
When your office shows it takes the time to get to know their patients and values their time, you’ll notice patients referring you to their friends and family. Shorter waiting times and more personalized care is always a good way to get referrals and it costs your office nothing.
Scheduling fewer dental appointments means that patients can schedule their treatment sooner and not have to wait months to get important dental work taken care of. When your schedule is constantly filled and patients cannot make convenient appointments, it becomes more stressful. Take this negative aspect away by allowing for more space in your schedule for emergency visits or walk-in patients.
Once you and your dental team master how to schedule your practice efficiently, you’ll see positive changes in all aspects of your office, including yourself, your employees, and your patients. Dentistry is both a blended science and a business, and it requires time and finesse to provide quality dental care for your patients. Scheduling fewer dental appointments will give your dental team less stress and allow you and your clinicians to spend more time treating your existing patients. If you’re thinking about adding a specialist service, like orthodontics, to your practice, you can benefit from Dr. Brad’s Williams GP Orthodontic Seminars aimed at teaching you to perform straight wire orthodontics that comes with long-term support. Get started today.