The Scheduling Doctor: How to Prevent Patient Cancellations in Your Dental Practice

Do you feel frustrated when patients cancel their appointments last minute or simply don’t show up? You’re not alone.

This is a common problem faced by dental practices.

However, what if there was a way to get patients to happily show up on time?

In this episode of Dental All Stars, the CEO of All-Star Dental Academy, Alex Nottingham JD MBA, sits down with Larry Guzzardo, All-Star’s head instructor and lead consultant, to discuss the effect of cancellations on your practice.

And the best part? Larry will be sharing ways to understand and fix this issue. Get patients to show up on time and your practice will thrive!

How cancellations can affect your dental practice

According to Larry, cancellations have a significant impact on the revenue of a practice. He notes that when patients fail to show up for appointments, it affects your ability to meet the financial goals of the practice.

Furthermore, cancellations also have a negative impact on the morale of the staff. The stress of scrambling to find patients and fill the empty slots in the schedule can be overwhelming.

Cancellations mean a loss of revenue

In terms of numbers, Larry gives clear calculations to explain this.

A hygienist can generate around $100 per hour, while a dentist can generate $500 per hour. If a hygienist experiences two broken appointments in a week, the loss in revenue ads up to around $10,000 for the year.

Similarly, a dentist who produces $500 per hour could lose about $26,000 in revenue due to cancellations.

Together, no-shows can cost you $36,000 for the year.

Low staff morale

Moreover, the impact of cancellations on a practice goes beyond lost revenue.

Staff morale is affected, and they may also lose out on bonuses. Additionally, the practice may be paying the entire team to be present without any production. This is a significant loss of productivity, and there is a missed opportunity for case presentations and future treatment planning. Larry estimates that with three broken appointments per week, the practice could be missing out on $150,000 in lost opportunities for the year.

Why do cancellations and broken appointments happen?

According to Larry, cancellations and broken appointments happen in dental practices because there is no system in place that teaches patients to value their appointments.

He believes that the typical practice focuses on rescheduling appointments rather than reinforcing the importance of keeping them. The lack of focus on building value for the appointment along with a permissive attitude makes it easy for patients to break them.

But policies that punish patients for missing appointments are not effective and may cause resentment and resistance.

Instead, Larry suggests implementing a system that encourages patients to keep their appointments without punishing them.

How to fix broken appointments

Larry believes that patients can be trained to keep their appointments. He compares it to the way airlines have trained passengers to arrive on time, get in their seats, and follow the rules. Patients can be taught how to treat their dental appointments as a priority rather than a secondary concern.

However, Larry notes that many of the excuses patients give for missing appointments are not legitimate. They are more like excuses, and staff members often know this. Patients might cancel appointments at the last minute because of work, illness, or other commitments. While these situations are understandable, they do not excuse the patient from the responsibility of keeping their appointment.

Larry suggests that dental offices need to enforce their policies to fix broken appointments. Patients, especially those that do it all the time, should be reminded of the importance of keeping their appointments and given consequences for failing to do so.

Why you should attend the All-Star Practice Growth Summit

Larry will be presenting at our upcoming Practice Growth Summit in May, 2023. One of the great benefits of the live event is the opportunity to challenge Larry and other speakers. You can ask tough questions, try to stump the instructor, and learn from the experience of others. This is something that you simply cannot get from an online course or a podcast.

The All-Star Dental Practice Growth Summit is also a lot of fun. You can expect a lively and engaging atmosphere, with plenty of opportunities to network with other attendees and experts in the field.


Learn more about the All-Star Practice Growth Summit:

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