If you want to have a polarising discussion in dentistry, then bring up the topic of Same Day Emergency Appointments.
We all know that there are three things we should never raise as discussion topics with patients.
And in the same vein, raising the subject of Same Day Emergency Appointments with dentists and dental teams is equally as polarising.
Those who run their dental practice using a TEMPLATE, will swear that having Same Day Emergency Appointments is a practice builder.
Whereas those practices that do not have Same Day Emergency Appointments will simply tell you that keeping blank spaces in their schedule is unproductive and unnecessary because no matter what,
“we will always get a cancellation and if we don’t, well, we can always squeeze an emergency in somewhere”.
And that is that!
I built a successful dental practice by using an appointment book template that had Same Day Emergency Appointments available EVERY WORKING DAY.
Every day, when I came in to work, there were always TWO vacant unfilled half-hour appointments [one in the morning and one in the afternoon] available for anyone who rang that day and needed to see a dentist urgently.
Be they an existing patient or a new patient.
Two Same Day Emergency Appointments available every day.
So how did it work?
Or better still….
Why did it work?
You may well ask:
“How did you make it work, David?”
The answer is simple….
Firstly, you need to know how many people are calling your practice each day seeking an emergency appointment.
And you need to know whether these people calling are existing patients, or new patients.
And if they are new patients, you need to know who is referring them, or where they are finding out about your practice from.
Once we know these numbers we can then work out whether we have a need for one, two, three, or four [or more] Same Day Emergency Appointments each day.
The simple fact is this:
When you are able to see a patient with a real time emergency on the same day that they call, [whether they are a new patient or an existing patient], if you can get them out of trouble and solve their immediate concern, then you will create a loyal patient FOR LIFE, then and there.
Of course the opposite is also true….
When you are UNABLE to see a patient with a real time emergency on the same day that they call, then you will create a dissatisfied patient for life.
And, just saying, the dissatisfied patient will go out and tell way more people about their disappointment in your practice.
[And just saying, because I know you are wondering “how successful”….. my practice collections grew by 800% over a fifteen-year period because of this one binding belief in Same Day Emergency Appointments].
“What if we have these Same Day Emergency Appointments in our schedule and we don’t fill them?”
Trust me, you will fill them.
You will fill them with grateful people who will forever value what you do for them because you were able to see them and help them during a well-structured appointment.
When you “squeeze” someone in….
When you squeeze someone in to your appointment book because you have not allowed availability, you compromise that patient, their appointment, and their value, as well as the appointments and values of the people you squeeze them in between.
And so, that may upset and offend three, or five or all of your patients because you’ve messed up everybody’s day by doing the squeeze in.
And by the way….
If you really want to offend a patient just tell them when you are making their appointment, that you are “squeezing them in”.
Really, you should never say this.
And sadly, there are practices and office staff and dentists who really denigrate the emergency patient by letting them know HOW LUCKY THEY ARE that we decided to squeeze them in to “our precious day”.
Yes, this really does go on….
Here’s what I used to do.
In my practice the Same Day Emergency Appointments were set in stone at 11:30am and at 2:00pm.
The 11:30am appointment was always followed by a productive one-hour appointment at midday and then an hour for lunch at 1:00pm.
This way, if the 11:30am Same Day Emergency Appointment went longer than expected, we only ever inconvenienced one patient, and we caught up time during a shortened lunch break.
No big deal for everyone.
If we didn’t have someone call [on that morning] wanting that appointment, then what we would do is ask our 11:00am patient [who was purposefully selected] whether they would like to stay on and have more work done that day, because we had time become available.
[Or, we might call a patient who had a crown insert appointment scheduled for the next week, to let them know that their crown had arrived back earlier than expected, and would they like to come on in and have it seated sooner….]
With the 2:00pm Same Day Emergency Appointment, if we didn’t fill that appointment, which sometimes did happen on the odd occasion, then everyone in the practice was given permission to take a longer [and well-deserved] extension to their lunch break.
Now I know that…..
Now I know that there will still be dentists out there who won’t believe….
And who believe that booking emergency patients in for appointments weeks down the track [because nothing else is available] is a totally acceptable way of doing business.
But it isn’t.
It’s a FALSE ECONOMY that is choking your business.
Now, in implementing Same Day Emergency Appointments, there are other considerations that are needed to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients, and for dentists, and for practices, but when everything runs smoothly, it really does run SO MUCH MORE SMOOTHLY.
Like a well-oiled machine…
It did for me, and it has done for those dentists who have taken this philosophy on board.
And it will work for you too…
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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.
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