8 ways to overcome lost winter production in your dental practice

March 16, 2014

This winter has been epic all over the country! And the effect it has had on your practice production is most likely taking its toll on you just as much as the sub-zero temperatures did.

I was recently doing an over-the-phone training session for a wonderful clinical assistant/business administrator (she holds roles in both areas). Her doctor was on vacation and she was working in the business office while he was gone. This wonderful team member was concerned that their production had dropped in February due to horrible winter weather, so she asked what she could do to help bring the production up. Do you love this woman?

Here are the things I recommended that she do to overcome the winter doldrums that had taken hold of their practice production. The key element here as it related to creating a healthy work environment is that she was the initiator of this call. She was the one who wanted to step up to the plate and to help. She wanted to be an asset to the practice and was/is just that. It’s all about attitude, and here it is in one shining moment! Attitude is everything. She can learn the skills. These can be taught. Give me a person with this kind of attitude and the sky is the limit.

Here are eight ways to beat the winter blues and grow your practice in spite of winter challenges:

1. Perform a chart audit noting patient’s name, contact information, date of the diagnosis, what was diagnosed, fee, and insurance information, if appropriate. Also mark the last date this patient was seen.

2. Note any patients that are past due for hygiene. If the diagnosis is within the past six months, they can be booked for that treatment. If the treatment was diagnosed more than six months ago, get them into hygiene. This will support hygiene retention, as well as chart auditing.

3. Develop a campaign for tooth whitening. Based on ADA information, this is the number one requested service in dentistry and 60-70% of people who come in for tooth whitening go ahead with further treatment. This is not just doctor time but could be assistant time as well, so it is very cost-beneficial for the practice.

4. Develop a library of before-and-after photographs and use them for patient education. Make the library accessible to all in order to give the doctor third-party backup support. The goal is to have more people saying yes to treatment.

5. Contact patients who have approved pre-determination of benefits to encourage them to come in, then make a financial agreement with them. While we do not encourage doing “pre-d’s,” there are times when it is appropriate.

When the insurance company requires it

When the patient requests it

When a patient is unwilling to schedule without that information

When the patient thinks he or she knows more about dental insurance than you do and is being difficult.

If these situations are in place and a pre-d has been provided, a follow-up call from your front desk is appropriate.

6. Review CareCredit (or whatever patient financing program is in place). Get the reports from the company that identifies people who are on the program and how much available credit they have. If there is dentistry diagnosed but incomplete, tie these two things together when you make the chart auditing or hygiene retention call.

7. Develop a marketing program (with social media) to promote a specific procedure - tooth whitening, Invisalign, 6 Month Smiles - whatever you are doing in your practice. Develop and promote this to help get you out of the winter slump and build toward the future. Kick this into high gear … now!

8. Give every patient who makes it into the office as a result of your post-winter efforts a gift - even a piece of nice “wrapped” chocolate (they will love that), then ask them for referrals. We developed a program called “Smile Out Loud” at Jameson Management that encourages and nurtures referrals. If allowed in your state and if this interests you further, go to jamesonmanagement.com, send an e-mail to info@jamesonmanagement.com, or call (877) 369-5558 to get the details. If every one of your patients would send a friend, colleague, or family member, you could double your new patient flow. Now is a good time to do just that.

Say goodbye to the wintertime blues and warm up your practice with these eight workable, productive ideas. Work and life can be fun … if you make that choice. It’s up to you.