27 Jun 2014  •  Marketing and Design, Practice Management  •  4min read By  • Kevin Rose

Help – There are Gaps in my Appointment Book!

Kevin Rose takes a look at how to look at an issue from a different perspective when trying to fill your appointment book!

One thing I’ve noticed from being out in the field and spending time with practice owners is that for many of them their sense of wellbeing and security is linked to the number of gaps in their appointment book, which sort of makes sense as gaps don’t pay the bills.

Commonly, it’s thought that just filling the gaps will make the problem go away, but in reality it often won’t. Of course, there are plenty of practical things you can do to increase patient activity. For instance, getting in contact with your patients that have an open treatment plan and address their concerns for not continuing with it (note they’re just concerns not ‘objections’), but to me, that is all just creating an ‘engineering’ solution to a problem that requires a better understanding of ‘physics’.

If engineering solutions for your dental business is all that you focus on then you are mainly dealing with ‘how’ to do something, achieve something or to get from one place to another. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this situation. However, because each situation is so specific. the best answers on ‘how to’ do something won’t always be the right solution. This is why, despite there being millions of websites, apps and books which are full of useful marketing advice, some dentists still see gaps in their book.

To truly deal with these challenges you need to approach them with insight and a different way of thinking; taking a closer look at the ‘physics’ rather than going straight to the ‘engineering’. If you have a better understanding of why something works, or indeed what works, then it will provide you with the insight to come up with your own personal solution (in this case, filling gaps in your book).

So, what do you need to consider when looking at the physics?

Think about what you can presuppose the patient or what the other party must believe or accept as true for them to behave in a certain way.

Here is the appointment book gaps scenario put into theory…

You’ve been working with a patient and have provided them with a treatment plan you thought they wanted but they don’t proceed with it. Initially, instinct says it’s due to price, therefore it’s easily tempting to think the solution is to jump in and offer a price reduction or finance option. But, unless this is the actual cause for your patient behaving this way then by simply reducing your price, you are dealing only with the effect and, in doing so, may have undermined your own credibility.

What happens if this scenario repeats itself and a number of your patients choose not to proceed with treatment? If you automatically assume that these are price-related objections, you too may begin doubting your pricing structure and decide to reduce your prices.

On the next occasion those patients visit the practice, they may think your prices are too cheap – another potential reason for them not to proceed with treatment. People don’t really want cheap dentistry.

As such, the spiral continues.

If this sounds familiar, now is the time to stop and think ─ what else could be going on?

  • What is the misunderstanding between you and your patients?
  • Does your patient believe that, from their perspective, there is not enough real value in proceeding?
  • Are your patient’s motivations compelling enough to proceed?
  • Does your patient have a great enough understanding about the actual clinical process?
  • Does your patient believe that you can carry out the treatment confidently?
  • Does your patient have the time and commitment to proceed?

Remember, it’s important to take the time to delve deeper into the ‘physics’ or understanding of the underlying issue before committing to any action, so spend some time asking yourself the questions above. By doing so, you should be able to find the real and most suitable solution rather than spending unnecessary time and money in finding, more often than not, a number of quick-fix solutions that may not work.

So, if you’re confident you understand the ‘physics’ behind what you want to resolve, take a look at what ‘engineering’ solutions we have for you from our Resource Library.

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