Are your new patient numbers staying the same each month? What can you do to fix it without a big investment in time or money? What could be the issue? In this episode, Mark and Howie discuss how your schedule and capacity could be to blame and how to use block scheduling to get more dental patients.


Podcast Highlights:

  • What issues contribute to stagnation?
  • Taking away availability
  • Fixing capacity
  • “I’m stuck at X new patients/month!”
  • Taking away barriers to creating appointments
  • Apply this strategy that will work immediately
  • How to do block scheduling correctly
  • How long until you see results?

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Well, hello, everybody. Welcome to our podcasts. We’re glad. Glad you’re with us. And you don’t have to suffer my solo efforts anymore, because we have Mark back. How are you doing Mark?

Mark: I missed your solo effort. I must listen to it. Yeah, I do.

Howie: You should go listen to it. No, maybe you shouldn’t.

Mark: I’m sure that’s not what I’m sure it’s very worthy.

Howie: Okay.

Mark: I have not heard yet.

Howie: Okay. Anyway, I think what we settled on to talk about there’s been some conversations here about, you know, I’m stuck at 20 new patients or whatever, and how to how to go beyond where you are now, I think is vital. It might describe it, right?

Mark: Yeah. And we’re having these conversations. Now, I don’t listen to all the advisors conversations, but I’m going to say I’m going to easily say multiple times each week. So I thought it would make a good topic for everyone. We’re in the middle of a rebound, economically. Most of you are in areas now, where housing values have at least returned to 2007, you know, somewhere around sanity levels. And that’s largely fueling the rebound. And dentists are now busier because of it. So all those times during the recession, that you were less than busy, or less busy than you want it to be, you’re probably a little more busy now, then you’re prepared for,

Howie: You know, people have money to spend on dentistry, and they have credit now that

Mark: Yeah

Howie: They didn’t have before.

Mark: Exactly. Um, that’s from a man, you know, a macro economic standpoint.

Howie: Right.

Mark: All of that is true. Okay. So, you know, we know that trickles down to dentistry, you know, dentistry lost $18 billion a year for whatever, six, seven years. So eventually, that’s going to come back into the dental market, so that time is upon us. And of course, you know, we work with lots of practices. And concurrently, those practices are doing really well.

Okay, so, and then we, you know, we follow up with, with practices, and they say, say, you know, you know, you know, I don’t know, Mark, or lee or Jane or Sal or you know, you know, I don’t know, if I want to do any more than I’m doing, I can’t seem to get off of this number of new patients, and then number can change it, obviously, it changes. You know, if it’s a one dentist practice, it’s probably around 20. If it’s two doctor practice, probably around 35. If it’s a three doctor practice, it’s probably around, you know, 55, 60.

Whatever your situation is. The indication is a consistent a number of new patients that you just can’t seem to beat, right? Even if you have team meetings, even if you, you know, incentivize your team to get more dental patients, or even if you send them to a scheduling course. Right? You probably still are going to have a very difficult time getting beyond where you are, if you don’t recognize some of the contributing issues, and take corrective actions to get them fixed. Okay, so let’s start with the first most obvious one. And you’ve heard me rail against this for I don’t know, how many, how many podcasts are we on? Like 110? or something?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Somewhere around there. Right. So, in,

Howie: 113 actually.

Mark: 113. Okay, so,

Howie: Thank you Josh.

Mark: Yeah, and probably in 10 of the hundred and 13. You heard me get up on my soapbox and tell people that the evil ways of pre appointing hygiene. So,

Howie: Oh Yes.

Mark: Are we

Howie: We get a big speech at dental town when you’re about that. Remember that?

Mark: Yeah, the place was packed, and they were all writing notes. And we’re all like, wow, this, you know,

Howie: This is a new concept.

Mark: Exactly.

Howie: Everybody pre appoints everybody in the world knows that.

Mark: I’m not supposed to just give my time away for nothing. The world isn’t entitled to me. Okay, so I’m sorry. But so one of the big contributing the one of the one of the first problems that rears its ugly head is this seeming addiction to pre appointing every human being that walks out of your office for their next six months cleaning. So what? Now follow along with this. What happens is, if you do that not for every not for 100%, let’s say 90% of your patients on what happens is, is you’re actually you’re taking up time in the schedule six months from now. And only about 70% of those patients will adhere to that. And 30% you’ll be chasing around. So, but you’re still taking the availability away. Okay.

Howie: The capacity.

Mark: Right. you’re right. You’re saying I’m booked up clinics, kind of like calling a motel. And the motel said, Yeah, now we’re booked up, because these 35 people were here six months ago, and I just stuck them in and that day that you want, I’m booked. Okay. So as you get closer and closer and closer things, you tend to see things or feel things in your dental practice, you start hearing things like Doc, we’re going to do something with the hygiene schedule, I got no place to put existing patients. Okay. And if you are hearing that from the people at your front desk, you know, there’s a couple of things going on here.

Number one, you’re probably pre appointing everybody. Number two, the front desk is probably getting some pressure from existing patients, because the only appointments that are available six months out, or you know, 11:30 in the morning on a Tuesday and one 1:40 in the afternoon, on a Thursday, you know, the least desirable appointment times during the week because everybody’s at work, right? So the existing patients start to complain about the lack of availability. And pretty soon the book gets further and further and further and further booked out. And then your front desk comes to you and says, Hey, Doc, we got to address this issue. So again, let’s remember, your reserving time and your schedule six months from now. And about 30% of that is just 100% pure fantasy.

Howie: Okay

Mark: Okay, it’s just fantasy, right? So okay. So that’s the big that, that that’s what kind of starts this whole snowball. Okay, so we got to pay attention to that. But then the second thing you pay attention to remember, in our scenario, we have a practice, they’ve been kind of stuck. Let’s just make an example practice. Let’s say it’s a single doctor practice five Ops, two hygienists four days a week. And they’ve stuck on 20 new patients a month, but the doctor wants to grow.

But the doctor can’t get past that. 20 new patients, you know, a month. So we look at the calls and we look at you know, the things and we say, well, you shouldn’t be getting more than 20 new patients a month and a doc says no stuck on 20 new patients a month. Okay, that’s the situation. You say yourself, Well, what the heck is going on?

Well, one of the problems is nobody can find a place to make an appointment. So you look at your hygiene, you look at your pre appointment, you say, Okay, I’m gonna go fix that. And we’ve already gone through the ways to fix that you have your A patients, your B patients and your C patients and you only allow A patient’s to pre appoint and you’re B and C patients don’t get a chance to prove a point that they don’t deserve it.

They’re going to get recall cards, and they’re going to have an opportunity to call and take that 1:40 appointment on Thursday, because that’s the only one available, but you’re not just going to give them a prime time appointments, you know, because they don’t deserve it because they missed or broke their last appointment. Why would you give them another appointment doesn’t make any sense. Okay, so you’re going to fix that.

Then the next thing you’re going to do, and this is the part that’s additional to what we’ve already mentioned in previous podcast is you’re going to do block scheduling, you know, do block scheduling correctly. Now this will work tomorrow, you can start this is something that you can take from this podcast right now. And you can apply it tomorrow. If you’re going to work tomorrow. You know what, Howie? Let’s take a break.

Howie: Yeah, good idea. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.

Hello, everybody. This is Howie Horrocks and along with me is Mark Dilatush, the president of new patients Incorporated. How you doing Mark? Hey Howie, how are you? This is the part of the podcast where we get to brag about our company. Yay. So sometimes it gets lost. And all these podcasts what new patients incorporated actually does. We have? I don’t know how many podcasts 75-80, one a week for well over a year. And all of you listen to these a half hour at a time and you might lose sight of what we do. So here’s the short answer. We do everything we’re talking about in these podcasts on behalf of our clients. Okay, without the podcasts are there for our clients, of course, just so they understand what the heck we’re doing.

But also for the doctors who are do it yourself. If you’re not a do it yourselfer, and you want someone to do this for you, There’s an icon in the dead center at the top of our homepage where you can get a complimentary marketing plan, a series of questions will need to be completed. And once you complete that, we will analyze your market area, develop a marketing plan and get on the phone with you discuss all the sections of the marketing plan just to make sure you understand a couple of things, what you’re up against, what your expectations should be, and what market Howie would do if we owned your dental practice.

Howie: Alright, we are back. We are talking about now. Well, you know what we were talking about? Right?

Mark: Yeah, it’s like the weather the weather girl. And you know, and there’s weather coming Thursday and Friday. But you have to watch our news at six o’clock to find out what it is right?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. Anyway. So the other thing you can do when you can do this, starting tomorrow, is it’s really just math, let’s take our scenario, offices, averaging 20 new patients a month single doctor practice, which is about the number of patients a single doctor needs to grow revenues basically, exponentially forever if they’re good, solid, new patients, but the doctor wants to expand, right? The doctor wants to bring in an associate. So you need to get more dental patients to bring in the associate. But he’s got this bottleneck of you know, your schedule. So we’re definitely going to fix the recall system. And we’re also going to start block scheduling correctly

Here’s how you do it. You take the number of new patients that you’ve been averaging for the last six months, how do you do that, you just go give me a new patient list for the last six months in your practice management software, divide the total number by six. There you go, there is your number. So let’s say it’s 20. You multiply that number times 120%. 120% of 20 is 24. And you block your schedule with 24 blocks, the blocks are the amount of time it takes for you to see a new adult patient, and you blocking in the rooms where you bring in your new patients. Some people bring in new patients to hygiene. Some people bring in new patients to the doctor schedule.

It’s up to you to what we’re saying is for next month, and every month thereafter, you need 24 blocks. And those blocks need to be the first early morning appointments every weekday, and the latest appointments in the afternoon, or early evening, on your weekdays. Those are the most those are the most, yeah, those in the most sought after attractive appointment times you don’t you don’t try to make a new patient take that 1:40 on a Thursday appointment, you invite them to take the five o’clock appointment on a Thursday. So they can come after work. Maybe you have to get out of work a half hour early, right. But they can come in for their first appointment in your practice and then just go home.

Howie: It’s more convenient.

Mark: Much more convenient. Okay, so you block those. Now. Anyone who’s ever blocked the schedule, knows that it doesn’t end there. So now you got to bring your team together. And you have to say, look, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why we’re doing it, we’re stuck on 20 new patients a month, we need to have we need to create enough openings in our schedule to allow new patients to make appointments either online through the local med portal, or when they call our telephone number, we have to have enough room to bring in more than 20 new patients a month.

So we’re going to make the room and hygienists now, you know, please take this the right way. You know, go get a jar. And for every existing patient, you put in one of those blocks, you put five bucks in this jar. That’s your penalty and the front desk, they’re gonna have to do the same thing. This is our oops, jar. Okay, you’re not allowed to take these appointments for existing patients, I don’t care how much they cry. Okay.

Now, obviously, as you get closer to that new patient block still being open, let’s say you’re within 36 hours, well, then you can just have, you can just let your front desk folks know, hey, look, if you’re within 36 hours of one of these new patient blocks, and no new patient has taken it will go ahead and fill it in. What’s the easiest appointment time in your book to fill? Early morning, early evening. Okay, there’s 5000 existing patients who would go You’re kidding me, I’ll take it, right. So it’s not going to be a hard, it’s not going to be a big deal to fill the most convenient appointments that you you have in your entire book, okay, going to be really easy to fill those.

What will happen over time is, all of a sudden, with the same amount of advertising, marketing, spend, whatever you’re spending right now, magically, this practice, we’ll go from 20 to 21, to 22, to 23, and to 24 new patients a month. It’ll be amazing. Okay, all of a sudden, people will actually have openings they want to choose, and they will choose them and they will increase your new patient numbers. Now. Every two months, you do your math again, here’s why.

Because in two months, you might be at 24. And you don’t want to you don’t want to put a bottle cap over your practice at 24 either. So you multiply 24 times 120%, you will end up with 29. Okay, now we need 29 blocks for the month. And you just keep blocking out for new patients based on the number of new patients you’re currently averaging over the last six months times 120%. You do that. And in six to eight months, for the same advertising, spend the same staff spend the same number of phone call the same everything, you’re going to end up with another 25 or 30% more new patients for the same everything. You’re going to be growing smartly.

Okay. So two steps, one, fix your ecosystem stop pre appointing the world. Okay, number two, block, block appropriately. Yes, it’s going to take a while because you can’t go out and block next month. Because there’s patients already booked in those in those spots. But you can block six months from now. And then because six months is going to go by really quick. So, um, you know, five or six months from now, you’re going to start seeing automatically, more new patients with zero additional expense, zero additional effort on the part of your staff. Okay. Um, and you’re going to be enjoying more of the fruit of what your marketing has been, has been producing for you all along, you just unknowingly put a cap on it.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Makes sense.

Howie: Well, it does now that you had explained it. Thank you, Mark. You’re here. You’re welcome. I’m going to have two more of these conversations this week. I guarantee

Mark: there’s a lot of busy dentists out there. Right and there.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: They don’t they don’t actually get into the point where they don’t know what to do. You know, they’re enjoying it. Right?

Howie: Yeah, it’s a different kind of problem. But it’s still a problem.

Mark: Right? Exactly. It’s not Oh, I’m slow. It’s Wow, I’m really busy. And I don’t really know what to do with it. And that’s a great way to make everything slow, steady and predictable growth.

Howie: Yeah. Well, great. That’ll do it for today. Thank you all for tuning in. And we hope you tune this again and again next week. Until then, have a great one.

Mark: Bye bye.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can find more podcasts on our YouTube channel, on Stitcher and iTunes. Also on our websites, and