No one needs an introduction to what happened in March 2020. Because of the global pandemic dental practices, all cross Canada as well as the U.S were closed for about 2 to 3 months. Usually, in a dental practice, when a patient comes in, we tend to book them in for their next appointment 6 months later, but because of this 2 to 3-month break we had, most practices will have a gaping hole in their appointments 6 months later.
So today, I’m going to tell you how to avoid this coming crisis and have a productive dental hygiene schedule, and proactively solve this problem.
Something that we experienced here at Life Smiles when we reopened was that we did have appointments that we scheduled 6 months ago. However, there was a lot of shuffling around, since some patients didn’t feel safe, whilst others fell completely out of schedule.
There are two main strategies that you can follow in rescheduling:
1. Reaching out to your patients
One strategy is to identify the patients that you haven’t seen yet and reach out to them to make their appointments.
2. Re-activating patients in their hygiene schedule
There will be some patients that have completely drifted away. The next strategy is to reactivate these patients. Every practice has these kinds of patients who come in once in every 3 years instead of 6 months, so we need to re-activate them and bring them back on track.
Using technology to reach out
As I always say in my Thriving Dentist podcast, at Life Smiles we pride ourselves to be a ‘technology office’. So rather than use the old-school phone call, we prefer to use email or even better, text. In my experience, the clients that actually appreciate that whole ear-to-ear connection is actually our older patients. But for most, a text message would be more effective.
Don’t force your appointments
Another thing to note, is that if a patient is worried about coming in, I would not persuade them to come in. Rather, I would tell them “I completely understand, how about we book an appointment in another 2 months?”
Have one responsible person
When everyone is doing the same thing, nobody is doing it. So, I would strongly suggest having one person responsible for your dental hygiene schedule. That division of duty will do you more good than any of the other strategies above.
Put a benefit statement
In your messaging to the patient, it’s important to put a benefit statement. Rather than just saying please book your next appointment. You need to convey to the patients what benefits they will get from it. For instance, you can remind them that hygiene appointments could reduce their future dental expenses.
Real-time online scheduling
Many dentists are afraid to adopt this because they think they’re opening up their schedule to patients who don’t know what to schedule. This isn’t the case for hygiene.
Since the coming crisis might be just around the corner for most of us, I hope these tips and strategies help our doctors proactively avoid it and create a productive dental hygiene schedule. Tune in to my podcast episode on How to Avoid the Coming Crisis in Your Hygiene Schedule. Listen to it now!