Growing Your Practice

Plan Ahead: 6 Actions NOW to Fill Your Chairs in the Fall

Avoid Seasonal Slowness Open Dental Software

The dental industry, like many others, experiences seasonal slowness. As you look ahead to the start of school in the fall, there are concrete steps you can take now to prevent the seasonal slowness you may traditionally expect in September.

  1. Planned Appointments

    As you see patients during these busy summer months, plan their next appointment. Put together Planned Appointments for care they still need, which can be scheduled in the fall using the Planned Tracker.

  2. Canceled/Missed Appointments

    Review the Unscheduled List for patients who recently missed an appointment – be sure to check the box to include broken appointments, then refresh the list to get a comprehensive view of patients who need to be re-scheduled. Right-click on any patient in the list and send them straight to the pinboard for scheduling.

  3. Recall / Recare

    Take a close look at your recall list, and reach out to patients who are due but not yet scheduled. If you usually remind them every 30 or 45 days after their first reminder, shorten up the subsequent reminders. Use text or phone reminders during the late summer months to fill slots in the fall.

  4. Pending Treatment

    Run a report of patients with treatment planned procedures who have insurance benefits remaining, and contact them to get treatment scheduled.

  5. Inactive Patients

    Take a new look at patients who haven’t been seen in a while (try query 396 on our Query Examples page). Determine the reason or objection to care. Did they understand the problem and the need for care? Were there financial concerns? Find creative ways to overcome the objections, and invite them back to your practice for the care they need. After all, tooth problems will only worsen over time!

  6. Review your “Exit Procedure”

    If you don’t do this already, consider adding these steps to your process when a patient is leaving your practice:

    • Schedule the patient’s next appointment before they leave.
    • Make sure you have their cell phone number in their account, and ask if they would prefer to receive recall and appointment reminders this way.
    • Imprint their next appointment by repeating it on their way out: “Have a great rest of your summer – we’ll look forward to seeing you on September 12th!”
    • Consider giving them something with your name on it that they would see or use often – like a refrigerator magnet, pen, or water bottle. Anything that keeps you “top of mind” is a good thing.

Additional considerations to prevent seasonal slowness:

  • Take the hassle out of staying on top of upcoming appointments by using automated eReminders so patients get a heads up – ideally, to their mobile devices (think “anywhere, anytime!”). Add eConfirmations to your Open Dental toolbox, so patients can confirm back to you right away, and you can see updated confirmation statuses in real time.
  • Talk to your favorite patients and ask for referrals! And be sure to send them a token of your appreciation when they refer new patients to your practice.
  • Stay in touch with your patients! If you’re participating in any local events, invite them to visit you there. Send birthday cards, and invite them to connect with you on social media. Periodic, friendly communication builds trust, and will have them looking forward to their next visit with you.
  • Staying on top of Recall, no matter what time of year, is critically important to the success of your practice, not to mention your patients’ oral health. Recall processes are most effective when they are simple, and done consistently. Schedule your patients for their next recall appointment before they leave. After all, periodic oral heath exams and cleanings are essential to preventing larger issues.

If you’d like help with any of these features, just give us a call!

We're listening.