How to Stuff Your Dental Patient Schedule

It’s here folks – there’s no denying it – the most wonderful time of the year is upon us once again (or breathing down our necks depending on your stance). Seems like just last week you were buying burgers for your Labor Day BBQ and now you’re Googling turkey brine in preparation for the big feast.

Across America, people will usher in the holiday season by giving thanks and loosening their belts. Whatever may be on your table – a deep-fried turkey, slow-roasted delight, bacon-wrapped bird, or loaf of Tofurkey (still not sure exactly how that’s prepared) – the meal generally isn’t over until everyone is sufficiently stuffed. Which, naturally, got us thinking about how to “stuff” your dental practice’s appointment book (ba dump bump). Stay with us; we promise it will be worth the cheesy segue.

Unlike the myriad ways you can cook a Thanksgiving turkey (or soy product of choice), the recipe for keeping your appointment book stuffed is pretty standard.

The first step in keeping your calendar full is reducing no-shows.  We all know that life gets busy, especially this time of year when general merry-making is added to an already lengthy to-do list. So how do you ensure patients’ bi-annual cleanings don’t get bumped out by pictures with Santa? Hello patient reminders.

Don’t want to task your front desk staff with making endless reminder phone calls? Good – that’s not what your patients want either. In a recent study, 80% of patients said they preferred text or email reminders over calls. How do you accommodate this preference? It’s easier than you might think. Using an automated patient communication system is a great way to deliver consistent communications that align with patient preferences, reinforce your practice’s high-tech image, and reduce no-shows. Automated patient reminders are easier, and way more effective, than your hushed attempts to remind Uncle Stan that “Pope” jokes are not appropriate on Thanksgiving – or ever.

Patient reactivation is another way to keep your schedule sufficiently stuffed. Sometimes life just gets in the way, and before you know it we’ve taken another trip around the sun. Make it easy for inactive patients to find their way back to your practice – no breadcrumbs required! Opt for an automated patient communication system that uses reactivation campaigns specifically designed to get lapsed patients back onto your schedule.  Trust us – a properly timed reactivation campaign will get those patients back in your door faster than you can snap a holiday card photo that has everyone looking in the same general direction.

At the risk of throwing out the obvious, new patient acquisition is next up on the list. Trying to run a successful practice without a patient acquisition strategy is like trying to swap out butter for a heart-healthy alternative at Christmas dinner – it’s not going to end well.

Thanks to the Internet, today there are more ways to get in front of new patients than there are swallowed emotions at your holiday table – think practice website, search engine optimization, social media, and pay-per-click advertising to name a few (check out our Resources section for more info on these topics). But one of the most powerful ways to attract new patients is by leveraging the ones you already have.

According to Dentistry IQ, 70% of dental patients said that online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of dentist. Assuming your patients are satisfied, (Not sure? Download How to Increase Retention and Lifetime Value of Dental Patients)  getting those reviews isn’t as difficult as you might think. Our advice? Ask and make it easy.

It’s not that your satisfied patients don’t want to leave a review, it’s just that they probably don’t think about it. People are busy and as soon as they set their next appointment, they’re out the door and onto the next thing on the list (refer to previously noted merry-making). You’ll be surprised at what a simple ask can do. Sending follow-up emails with a link to your website’s Reviews page and/or other review sites like Yelp and Google+ is a gentle way to let patients know you value their feedback. Now, before you get nervous about asking the front desk staff to do more, add it to the outreach campaigns handled by your automated patient communications system. Unlike humans, automated systems LOVE to take on more any time of the year (maybe it’s because they don’t have to fight crowds for the last light-up fidget spinner).

If you’ve made it this far you’re either interested in stuffing your schedule or hiding from the family (no judgement here). For the former, reach out to a ProSites Internet Marketing Advisor at 888-932-3644 to find out how ProSites’ PracticeMojo automated patient communication solutions, can make your life easier and stuff your schedule year-round. For the latter, we recommend deep breaths and lots of eggnog.

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