Dental business consultant, Lucie Simic offers some suggestions on managing a busy diary.
For a while now, dental practices have been grappling with the challenge of managing an influx of both new and existing patients. Yet, within this whirlwind of activity, it is crucial to acknowledge that experiencing gaps in your dental appointment schedule is not an unfamiliar scenario.
As we start to face this kind of challenge, going back to basics can be a wise strategy to weather the storm. In this blog, I discuss three key principles to help you navigate this situation effectively.
- We’ve Been Here Before
The dental profession, like many others, experiences cyclical patterns. There are times of high patient flow, and there are quieter periods. The key to successfully navigating these fluctuations is to remember that you’ve been here before. The experience gained during previous quieter periods can provide valuable insights into how to manage the current situation.
Use this time as an opportunity to evaluate and fine-tune your practice. Review your processes, update your technology, and refresh your skills. Stay current with the latest developments in dentistry, as staying relevant in the field is crucial. A commitment to continuous learning and improvement will position your practice for success when patient numbers rebound.
- Customer Service and Patient Experience
As the number of available appointments increases, now is the perfect time to focus on customer service and patient experience. Every interaction your patients have with your practice matters and can significantly influence their decision to return and recommend your services to others.
Ensure your team is well-versed in excellent customer service. Encourage them to be friendly, attentive, and empathetic. Invest in staff training to develop better communication skills, especially in explaining treatment plans and addressing patient concerns.
Go the extra mile to make patients feel comfortable and valued. A welcoming environment, clear communication, and a commitment to patient satisfaction will set your practice apart. Happy patients are more likely to be loyal patients.
- Loyalty is the Key
Rather than solely focusing on increasing the number of new patients, direct your attention to nurturing the loyalty of those already on your books. Your loyal patients are your practice’s most valuable asset. Now is the time to recognise their loyalty and make them feel appreciated.
Start by going through outstanding treatment reports for existing patients. Reach out to them and offer incentives to schedule appointments and complete pending treatments. Acknowledge their loyalty by offering discounts, loyalty programs, or referral rewards.
Leverage your long-standing patient database by implementing targeted marketing strategies. Send personalised emails, newsletters, or special offers to keep them engaged and informed. Show your gratitude by sending thank-you notes or hosting patient appreciation events.
Remember, gaps in your dental diaries are not a unique challenge. By going back to basics, focusing on customer service, patient experience, and nurturing patient loyalty, your dental practice can not only weather the storm but also thrive in the long run. These principles will enable you to emerge from this period with a stronger, more resilient practice and a loyal patient base that appreciates your commitment to their dental health.