5 ways to manage seasonality trends in the dental practice

July 21, 2016
Alitta Boechler, AuD, MBA

Alitta Boechler is a marketing manager at Sikka Software. She holds a Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. You can contact her at alitta.boechler@sikkasoftware.com or (408) 359-3014. For more information about The Practice Optimizer Company® please visit https://www.sikkasoft.com/dental/sikka-apps/practice-optimizer-dental/

Seasonality trends are something most dentists experience, and deciding how your practice will deal with the highs and lows is important to keeping your practice healthy. Here are five tips on how to manage seasonality in your practice.

Dentists are often faced with large fluctuations in revenue due to seasonality. High seasons bring in significantly more revenue than low seasons, and dentists may find that certain months have few new patients and more empty chairs.

These seasons are trackable using national trends benchmarking so dentists can compare seasonality averages to their own location’s performance. More information about seasonality trends can be found here.

Seasonality trends are something most dentists experience, and deciding how your practice will deal with the highs and lows is important to keeping your practice healthy. Here are five tips on how to manage seasonality in your practice.

More on seasonality trends: How seasonality affects revenue in the dental practice

Identify high and low times

Although national trends are good for benchmarking and understanding the challenges of the dental profession on a national scale, each location may experience seasonality differently. Based on the average patient age, geography and populations you are serving, calendar events like summer holidays from school may hit your revenue harder than the practice down the street. Identify your average monthly revenue and compare trends over time. Look for patterns, like if July is particularly slow, or demand is high in December. This will allow you to allocate resources and manage your cash flow.

Related reading: Seasonality and effects on accounts receivable in the dental practice

Plan your cash flow and resources

The slow months represent times where cash flow may be tight, so planning and setting aside revenue for lean times is key. You never know when business will be slower than anticipated or a sudden repair or piece of equipment will be required. You don’t want to require additional loans or to put up additional capital in the event that an emergency happens. Your inventory and resources are also highly affected by seasonality. You may find that your staff requires fewer supplies or might work shorter hours to accommodate the lulls. Plan ahead accordingly so you are not left with an empty chair and a full complement of staff. The flip side is, make sure you have enough team members to handle seasonal rushes.

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Start a marketing program

You don’t have to live with feast and famine; keep your chairs full and your schedule busy by implementing a marketing program. Send messages to patients who are due for appointments, are celebrating birthdays or could refer families and friends. Build up your communication program by keeping in touch with patients and letting them know that appointments are available. Staying in contact helps strengthen your relationship with your patients while serving their oral health needs.

More from the author: 5 ways to stop revenue-killing attrition in your dental practice

Find patients requiring treatment

Many patients may put off treatment, either because they do not understand the importance of oral health or do not feel that they can afford quality care. Reach out to them and discuss the importance of their treatment while being ready to converse about dental benefits and financing options. Your patients and your bottom line will thank you!

Trending article: The latest revenue data for dental practices across the nation

Measure results

Keep track of seasonality over time and see if your plans to increase cash flow through marketing and to decrease expenses during quiet months have impacted your bottom line. Reward your staff for their hard work and find new ways to communicate with patients to keep your marketing programs fresh and engaging.

Seasonality is one of many external forces that can affect your practice and your bottom line. By planning your finances and staffing and increasing revenue through providing patient care and marketing programs, you can make changes that help to mitigate seasonality effects. Always know your practice’s numbers and how they change with your efforts, otherwise it will be difficult to create effective revenue-generating marketing programs.

Sikka Software offers a free mobile app for iOS and Android to help you manage seasonality trends. You can find out more about the dental tools by clicking here.