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8 Key Tips to Reducing No-Shows at Your Dental Office

Dental practice managementNo-shows at your dental practice are not only annoying but become costly to your business. Of course, we know that things happen and there will be no-shows from time-to-time, but you need to ask yourself what is an acceptable no-show statistic for your dental practice? With the right programs in place, your target for no-shows can reach as low as 1%.

Reducing No-Shows at Your Practice

Below are a few effective ways to decrease no-shows:

  1. Effective confirmation process – In the past, confirmation phone calls were the most common way to remind your patients of their appointments. Most of these calls would go to voicemail. Today we recommend a combination of text messaging and emailing reminders. Confirm your patients’ appointments at two weeks, two days, and two hours. A confirmation protocol will cut down on no-shows.
     
  2. Create a sense of demand – A patient who misses an appointment should not be given another appointment for at least a week or two. This gives the impression that your practice is very busy and in high demand. These patients will likely not pull a no-show again because they know it will be difficult to make another appointment quickly.
     
  3. Threaten to charge for no-shows – If a patient misses two appointments in one year, let them know that there is typically a $100 missed appointment fee that the dentist has decided to waive it this time. We don’t suggest that you don’t charge your patients, as this may alienate them. But the threat alone can be enough to end no-shows. This approach should be more about retaining patients than penalizing them.
     
  4. Allow pre-paid appointments or wellness packages – You may provide an incentive for patients to show up by allowing them to prepay for their service. When patients know they’ve already committed to an appointment, their incentive to show up enhances when money is on the line. You can even offer a discount to patients who prepay for their next visit. Wellness packages also incentivize patients to show up for treatments. Wellness packages may be custom defined, but all work about the same. Patients may pre-pay a pre-defined amount for services over the course of a year and receive various services at no charge or a small fee.
     
  5. Follow up a missed appointment – Sometime a patient may just not show up. In such cases a call or email with a, “Sorry we missed you today!” will encourage your patient to reconnect with a rescheduled appointment.
     
  6. Don’t keep patients waiting – Are you in the habit of overbooking? A patient’s time is valuable. Reduce the wait times patient wait in your waiting room. This will encourage patients to show up on time. Value the time of your patients and your patients will value your time.
     
  7. Provide a printed copy of the next appointment – In an age of technology, most patients will use some form of technology to keep track of their appointments. However, you may still find a few that enjoy the appointment card reminders. This may easily be designed on the back of your business cards.
     
  8. Develop strong relationships – This pieces of advice goes far beyond patients keeping appointments. Developing strong relationships with your patients creates loyalty and referrals. Treat each patient like a superstar. Get to know them personally and don’t be afraid to chit-chat a bit about their lives or yours. Some patients may not appreciate long conversations or personal questions, but a little mingling never hurts. When a patient is greeted with a smile, and you, your front office treats them like family, your practice will go far!

No-shows are not 1005 avoidable. Using the strategies above can help you decrease your no-shows and increase the success of your dental practice.

We are dental marketing specialists, but we know a thing or two about dental practice management. If you have any questions or need directions, we have more than a few connections, consultants, etc. For help with creating a successful marketing plan for your dental practice or putting together your dental website, please don’t hesitate to contact Pro Dental Designs today. Our goal is to help you reach your business goals!

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