Banishing Broken Appointments

We recently hosted a special, public session of our Study Club where we talked about strategies for overcoming broken appointments / no-shows.

Fundamentally, the challenge associated with getting patients to show up to their appointments is one of perception.

Patients often perceive your dental office as overbooked, and that their specific appointment time is not that important. Overcoming this mindset is key to ‘training’ your patients to show up for their appointments.

Larry Guzzardo, aka “The Scheduling Doctor” and All-Star Dental Academy’s head instructor, spoke and answered questions about this important topic. Listen to Larry’s answer to a question from a participant on how to work to eliminate broken and changed appointments.

All-Star Dental Academy training program students can download Larry’s ebook – Banishing Broken Appointments, the Study Club MP3 audio file, and transcript here. (Note: you must be logged into All-Star Dental Academy to access links)

Read Larry’s answer to the question
“How do you begin to train the staff to not be pushovers on this issue?”

That is a very good question. The thing that I would say to you is, sit down with the team and, number one, talk about the kind of problems and how difficult it makes their job when you have broken appointments. I know that they feel like they don’t want to look bad to the patient but, really, what looks bad to the patient is that when your schedule is out of whack and then to make up for productivity, you have to bring extra people into the schedule or maybe it forces them to have to squeeze somebody into the schedule. So, it robs people of the time that you were supposed to give to regularly scheduled patients because you’re trying to make up for productivity.

So, in my opinion, broken appointments just steal money from them. Now, money might not be the issue for your team. They may feel like, “Not looking bad is better for me than making more money,” and, so, what I’d ask you to do then is sit down with the team and just say, “Let’s take a look at why these things happen.” You know, what kind of reasons are patients giving us for their broken and changed appointments? And I think if you look at that list and if you take it seriously, what you’ll notice is that most patients who are doing this really aren’t giving you reasons. They’re really more like excuses. Therefore, we shouldn’t worry about offending the patient. We need to put a system in place that teaches them.

So, they’re really not giving us real reasons because all of you who are listening know who I’m talking about. I am not talking about the patient that you know is having some difficulty at home, you know, because maybe they’re taking care of a sick relative or child or something like that or somebody you know that’s going through a personal crisis or whatever. That’s not the patient that I’m talking about. I’m talking about the person that, when you come to your morning huddle and you’re reviewing the schedule together and you’re looking at it thinking to yourself, “Well, I know this one’s not coming in and I know that one will be late and if we need to make up some more time we don’t need to worry because this one here in the afternoon’s not going to show up…” Those are the people that I’m talking about. It’s those repeat offenders.

So, getting the team on board, I would say, getting them to realize the reason why these occur are really for no reason at all. The reason why people ask us to change our schedule is because we don’t really teach them that they should keep the appointment that they should have. You know as well as I do if they were going to get their hair done or their nails done or just even see another professional, if you called and changed that appointment at the last minute or if you didn’t even show up, it would be real tough for you to get another appointment and most of us know that. However, if they call the dental practice and they want to change their appointment or say that they’re not going to show up the next day, we don’t tend to act as if that bothers us. As a matter of fact, we kind of act like, “It’s just fine and let me see when I can get you another appointment.” And, so, it ends up just teaching the patient that everything is okay. What I’m saying to you is that we can teach people, we can teach ourselves, to realize, “Hey, we’re not helping patients by allowing them to make all these changes and we’re certainly not helping ourselves.”

Limited Time: FREE eBook

"The five-star reviews are rolling in and the phones are ringing off the hook!" - Dr. Jennifer Wayer

1. Get QUALITY patients without selling

2. Banish broken appointments

3. Reduce turnover by 25%

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