Podcast 120: Connect the Dots – Fix Your Operations
This podcast ties together the topics of multiple past podcasts. Listen as Howie Horrocks and Mark Dilatush connect the dots between overcapacity, pre-appointing, and promoting dental practice on price.
Scenario: start with a price deal and pre-appoint everyone, filling the schedule
The illusion of security based on that full schedule
The issue of what type of patients takes up all the appointments
What happens to your growth when you reach overcapacity
Two big problems this situation creates
How to avoid this slippery slope
How to reverse the slide if you’ve already started
What about if you don’t promote on price but do pre-appoint hygiene?
Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by DentalWebContent.com 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 once again to our podcast. We’ve got our good buddy Mark out there on the on the East Coast. How’s it going, buddy?
Mark: Good, good. Good. No hurricanes today.
Howie: Yeah. Actually, we’re contacting a lot of our clients in that area to see how they’re doing. So,
Mark: Yeah, hopefully, hopefully, everybody in Florida is doing in the panhandle is doing fine. We do have a couple clients down there. So,
Howie: Yeah, we do, alright, today we’re going to do some dot connecting, and what kind of dots are going to connect are the subjects of this podcast over capacity pre appointing and promoting dental practice on price? That sound about right Mark?
Mark: Sound? Yep, sounds exactly right. And the reason why we’re doing this podcast is because I’m just this week. I think I think more people are listening to the podcasts, or, and or more people are in the dental marketing mastery Facebook group and reading it or something, because three people individual, dentist said, “Can you explain these things more?” So, today’s podcast is about connecting all those dots together, because we did podcasts on each one individually. And I think the problem that the public is having, or the dentist public is having is connecting the dots. So
Howie: Yeah, yeah,
Mark: Let me go through as scenario here, which is a very, very, very typical scenario. I’m going to promote my, let’s just say, I’m a dentist, okay, so I’m going to promote my practice. And I got, I think I have to use a deal to get the phone to ring because why would anybody choose me otherwise, um, and its less expensive way to promote because I don’t need a nice mail list. And I don’t need even a nice presentation, I can just put a deal on a postcard and wait for the phone to ring. So, I do that. And I have some other promotions, I have a dental clinic website, I have some assets for my marketing, and people start to call.
Awesome. So, I bring them in. And, and maybe you know maybe I’m I participate with two or three plans, right. And so, I can get on those insurance websites, I can get into directories and people will find me there and call from there. So, all of a sudden, people are calling so I I’m successful. I’m you know, people are pointing they’re going in my book, they go on my book. And I’m you know, they, of course, you know, it’s some dental law somewhere that says that once they’re in your office, you have to pre appoint them for hygiene every time.
Mark: May your dental license, okay. So, so I pre appoint everyone doesn’t matter, a monkey could walk from my front door, and that monkeys getting pre appointed six months from now for hygiene. So, I pre appoint everybody. And all of a sudden now, six months from now, if you do this every month, and you get a good solid number of new patients, especially this type of patient, and you pre-appoint them. It’s very similar to the old analogy where you just start a snowball down a hill, and by the time it gets down to the Hill, it’s an avalanche. Okay.
All you have to do is be a dentist and keep doing dentistry month after month after month to bring in these volumes of lower, let’s say, you know, the bottom half of the dental market consumers pre appoint them and pretty soon you have a gigantic schedule filled up with people who originally responded to you not based on dentistry, you do not based on any attribute you have other than whatever deal you put in the Starburst of your postcard.
Howie: Yeah, now, Mark, wouldn’t it be fair to say that, you know, the dentist in that situation has created the illusion of a secure future?
Mark: Oh, it’s Oh, no, the dentist is sitting there happy. They don’t have any money yet. Okay.
Mark: Okay. But their appointment book here. Okay. Looks really full.
Howie: Okay, let’s say they haven’t discovered that they’ve created illusion.
Mark: No, no, no, they haven’t discovered it yet at all.
Mark: So now we’re six months a year out 18 months, whatever, however long it takes for this insanity to creep up and become a real problem. And in different markets, it takes a different amount of time, obviously. But eventually they all practices get here that do this, right? They get to the point where the front desk goes, Doctor, I don’t have anywhere to put people because I just keep putting people everywhere. Okay, and they’re just filling up the schedule. hygiene is booked out for months. And you hear it all the time you call it almost a dental practice in America, hygiene’s booked out for months.
Well, that’s because you just stuck everybody out there. And you know, they’re not going to comply. Okay, now, first part of this discussion was about promoting dental practice based on price. Second part of this is pre appointing everybody. Now you’ve pre appointed 1000 shoppers, well, if they chose you based on a low price point the first time, what makes you think they’re going to comply to your recare. Purposeful stop. Just so you can think about this for a second, okay. So, you know, in your heart that these people make these choices based on less information than you would like, but you took your time and pre appointed them purposely six months into your future. Now your schedule is packed.
And what happens when your schedule gets packed by existing patients. You don’t have any more room for new patients, do you? Okay, so when you patients call your office unless it’s an emergency, and unless you have a third opportunity that’s just basically sitting there doing nothing and you can double book. Basically, people have to wait. And how long do new patients typically how long are they will willing to wait? The answer is eight work days.
So if you’ve purposely booked yourself out with hygiene patients and you bring new patients through hygiene, you can see that there’s almost I mean, it’s a mathematical it’s inevitable that you will run out of room in your schedule if this continues, and then you do. And then the front desk of Dr. I’m having a hard time putting finding a room for new patients. And you the dentist is sitting there going, I don’t care. Look at my book.
Mark: I must be the best dentist in my state. Every patient loves me. If I just look at the book, I can stroke my ego forever. Okay, the problem is, is we, we know 30%. Okay, now, now I’m going to introduce a whole other problem that the creates. There’s two more. The first problem is now that you’ve trained your hygienists to pre appoint.
They’ll want to rip your face off if you change that procedure, because you know why it’s easy. And they don’t want to have this conversation with the patient. They don’t look at it as a courtesy. They look at it as operational workflow. Okay. Oh, you mean we can’t prove a point anymore. Oh, I hate this idea. Now I have to actually talk. Okay, that’s gonna be a problem. Here’s the other problem the poor girl that you hire to manage your hygiene schedule. Let’s call her Heather.
Howie: Oh, boy.
Howie: Heather is going to be hunted and haunted.
Mark: That’s right. Right, Heather, you’ve just given a job, probably to the least qualified person in your office, and made that person responsible for trying to get people who chose you the first time based on a price incentive to come back into your practice. So, you hand her a list and a phone and say good luck, Heather. Now, meanwhile, every month that goes by another 30, 40, 50, 60 people are noncompliant to your reshare. But they had appointments.
So now Heather sitting there going, Oh, my God, look at all these people. They’re canceling. They’re not, they’re not answering your text or not saying yes. When I send them an email. What do I do? it’s blowing out the hygiene schedule. The doctor is going to be mad at me as three openings a day. I have these people don’t want to hear from meeting they didn’t really want to pre appoint to begin with. And poor Heather gets fired. She never had a chance.
Howie: No, she doesn’t. You know, Mark?
Howie: Let’s take a break right here. And we’ll come back in. See if we can rescue Heather.
Howie: Don’t go away.
Hey, Mark, I here we’ve got the hottest product since electronic claims submissions. Is that true? Holly, that is true. And let’s not keep it a secret. Okay. So, then what we’re talking about everyone is online dental appointment scheduling software. It’s real time online scheduling integration between your practices website, no matter who you got your website from, and your practice management software, and it will absolutely 100% add more new patients add additional existing patient appointments to everyone’s scheduling system that’s listening to this podcast, we have, I think we have it’s I think it’s 98.8% compliance, meaning 98.8% of the people ever installed are still using it and benefiting from it.
This is not a fad, this is not a dream. This is not some something that new patients will avoid. They love it. They love the convenience of being able to do this. If you want to take a look at it, send us an email. Howie and I or you can actually log on to New Patients Inc. and get this you can actually schedule an appointment to see it right from our website. Imagine that so do not hesitate. Take a look at this and get it integrated into your office you will absolutely get more out of advertising every advertising dollar you spend. You’re just going to love it.
Howie: Alright, we are back. Let’s help Heather out if we can. Or,
Mark: Poor Heather probably the best employee you probably your future office manager and training and you’re destroying her. Okay? Because you just keep piling, I hate just forgive me but you just keep piling crap on top of crap. Okay, and pretty soon she’s gonna get buried. And she wants to do a great job but she it’s impossible. No human being can do that job and be successful at it if you promote based on price and if you pre appoint everybody and if you have a constricted capacity, so that I hope connects all the dots.
For everyone who called one person called in two people emailed me now actually one person gave me a message and in Facebook instant message. I hope this helps those people for sure. Understand how promoting dental practice on price, pre appointing everyone creates an overcapacity situation. And how that overcapacity situation will instantly bring your practice to a grinding halt. You will stop growing, your revenues will stagnate.
Howie: Well, yeah, not only that you make a lot of people mad. They cannot do what they want to come be a new patient. Sorry, no room.
Mark: You’re spending good old good marketing dollars to have that outcome. Okay. Everything at the end of this hill is bad.
Howie: It’s bad.
Mark: It’s all bad. All right. And most of you don’t realize you’re there. But you are. Alright, so. “So, Mark, how do we look”? Let’s do two more things. And then we’ll finish the podcast. How do I avoid doing these bad things are going down the bad Hill? And if I’ve already gone down the bad Hill, and I recognize it’s, it’s bad? How do I get out of it?”
Okay. If you are way down the road of pre appointing everyone, and if you are over capacity, which most of you listening to this are okay. From the immediate fix, or one of the immediate fixes, is to block your schedule. Now we had an individual podcast on blocking your schedule. So, let me connect that dot. Okay, this is blocking the schedule for new patients is part of the process of rolling the snowball backup Hill, okay. Even if your schedule is packed, you should be able to find even if you have to go out a month or two, early morning and the first appointments in the last appointments of your work day.
And the math you use is rather simple. What you do is you go back six months, and you have an average number of new patients seen in in each month for those six months. So, let’s say that that number is 20. So, the average number of new patients your practice all over the last six months, that number is 20. What you do is you multiply 20 times 120%, you end up with a number of 24. What you want to do looking out in your schedule, is you want to paint the first appointment and the last appointment of the week days.
A color I don’t whatever it’s not called blocking, you just paint it that it’s you can market it’s some practice management software, they all do things differently. But basically, what you’re doing is you’re giving a visual cue to everybody in the office that these appointment times and slots are for new patients only.
And then you have a team meeting and you say these appointment slots are for new patients only, then you say if you violate this rule, here’s a jar and every time you violate it, you got to put five dollars in this jar. Okay. And actually, you might as well put it right up next to your hygiene department because they’re the ones that are going to want to violate it the most. Okay, but after you get through this, you will actually have 24 openings for new patients at the most convenient appointment times available in your schedule, I want you to think about that.
Okay, you’re getting 20 new patients a month now anyway. So, in the future, you’ll be able to offer your newest patients the most convenient days and times and hours. Right. And you’ll have 24 of them, not just 20 of them. So, your practice can actually grow, you can actually get more new patients each month. Now if you get close to one of these openings, then it’s not full. Every dental office has a short call list and every one of your existing patients would love to take that first morning or last afternoon appointment because they’re 2pm appointment was inconvenient to them. Okay, so plenty of opportunity to fill that opening. That’s certainly one of the things you do to get out of this another one.
After you block your schedule is stop pre appointing everybody stop the snowball. Okay, you, you pre appointing is a courtesy. It’s not connected to your dental license and you won’t go to jail if you don’t do it. Okay. No patient that I know of in my 30 years in dentistry ever left the dental office because they could not pre appoint. Okay, what it is, is a habit. And the habit needs to be broken, your patients need to qualify for the courtesy of choosing the best day and time according to their schedule six months from now. And the people who qualify are the people who actually kept their current hygiene appointment. At the day and time they made six months ago, those are your eight patients, those people have proven to you that they are worthy of the courtesy.
Everyone else is a B or C patient, a B patient, you know somebody who might mess up an appointment every once in a while. But for the most part, they’re a good patient, you’re just going to send them a postcard or a text or an email just like you do everybody else. Okay, and they’re still going to call, they’re just not going to get their preferred day in time. If they ask for it, they’re gonna have to wait. They may have to wait for their next hygiene appointment.
And that may motivate them to be a better patient. You’re C patients or patients who are going to break your appointments anyway. You know, the patients you see every eight years every time something hurts. Okay, but you’re just not going to pre appoint them anymore. So that Heather doesn’t have to chase them. Okay. Got a big smile on her face. Heather got a whole new lease on life. Actually, you might not even need Heather.
Howie: Yeah, yeah.
Mark: Right. And there’ll be there’ll be much, much fewer openings, last minute cancellations in your hygiene, oh my god, those will go down to maybe a half an opening a week. Okay, they won’t go to, they’ll go from two or three a day to maybe a half or maybe one opening a week in a charging call. You watch what happens. Now, if you do that. And you couple that with blocking your schedule based on reality and your pre appoint based on reality, what ends up happening and you have to be you have to be prepared for this dentist is that emotional ego stroke that you get by looking at a full schedule, your schedule is not going to look or appear as full as it did before you started this transition. It’s just not.
Howie: But it’s going to be real.
Mark: Right. But what you were looking at before was a fantasy. Okay, you created the fantasy. So once it’s removed, just, I’m just preparing you, because you’re not gonna, it’s not gonna feel as good as it did when you were pre appointing everyone. Okay, but here’s what is going to feel good. You’re going to have, you’re going to have, you’re going to be paying people in your office much less money for their time to follow up on your recare. So much less, they’ll be able to focus their time on actual patient standing in front of them. Instead of sitting in some back room with a telephone or a headset all day dialing numbers and getting answering machines and, and answering, you know, and just leaving messages all day trying to recapture patients who were erroneously added to your schedule six months ago.
Okay, you’re going to have a you’re going to know really quick, probably within six months, who you’re A patient’s or who your B patients are. And I think everybody listening to this podcast already has in their head, you know, the 10 or 15 C patients that you know, really, you right now you’re feeling kind of silly that you actually pre appointed them before. So anyway, so that is connecting, promoting dental practice on price, pre appointing overcapacity, what to do, if you’re stuck there. And I’m going to add the on the front end, if you don’t promote your practice on price. And you pre appoint after their first appointment, you will not get the bad impact on the back end.
Howie: Because you have a better quality patient,
Mark: A much better quality patient, they’re not using price to choose their next for their next professional cleaning. whenever that happens to be okay, they actually stick to your recare system. So, if you if you shift your marketing that’s going to impact everything within that snowball.
Howie: Right. Well, great. I think we’ve, you’ve explained that just beautifully.
Mark: I think you destroyed it.
Howie: The poor Heather’s out there, you’re going to feel better now. All right, we, I’d like to remind you all listeners, if you’re not a member of our dental mastery marketing group on Facebook, please apply.
Mark: Yeah, one more thing to this is we just we just released the update on unlimited new patients volume three, it’s on our website under education on you just it’s a free download. Just go get it. Okay, so that’s actually a really big update on a basically takes unlimited new patients from seven years ago and brings everything up to date.
Howie: Yeah, and actually, the original, if you don’t have the original haven’t read it. That’s also a free download.
Howie: So, you can get the original book and then you can get the update as well. Alright, well, thanks for listening. We’ll see you again next time. Bye now.