In the last two months of evaluating practices, I have confirmed there is a recurring perception many dentists have…
“We need more new patients.”

Although this may be true, time after time it’s more about the retention of existing patients that makes the doctor feel there are Patient Retention for Dental Officesvoids in the schedule and they can’t make goal’s.

Here are three things you need to know before investing heavily on a new patient marketing campaign.

1. How many active patients do you really have? I define active as a patient with two or more visits in the past 18 months, and one of those visits is at least a prophy.

2. How many total (different) patients do I have? These are patients that have been seen at least twice in the past two years?

3. How full is my Hygiene Department? Determine this by asking:

• When can a new patient get in for a cleaning?

• Without any cancellations or no-shows, are we booked 2, 3 or 4 weeks out with less than 2 hygiene openings?

Let’s focus on your Hygiene Department. You should be able to accommodate a new patient within 8 working days with a first or last appointment of the day. These are the most desired times by what I call, the Working Patient. The working patient have day jobs that restrict them to specific schedules. They typically have money to spend, insurance, and are highly motivated to get in. If you can’t get them on the schedule quickly, you run the risk of losing them for good.

These aren’t the only times you see new patients, but they’re the most requested ones. I recommend blocking some of these times on your schedule just for this purpose. You can always release these blocks if they’re not filled within 2 to 3 days.

Do you have enough Hygiene appointments available to maximize your potential? A Hygienist working 8 hours a day, 16 days per month, has 768 one-hour appointments open. As a rule, you should have 1 full time Hygienist for every 1,000 patients. This gives you a 20% overage to fill in cancellation and no-shows. (2000 patient = 2 full time hygienists)

Something what is easily overlooked is the impact of the patients that only come in annually for their cleanings. 500 patients missing 1 cleaning per year, at $150.00 per visit is a $75,000 yearly loss to your Hygiene Department, not to mention the additional work that may have been found during exams.

So, how do you head off any retention problems?

By building a strong recall program and holding your staff accountable. First, assign a Recall Manager responsible for the results. Implement the blocks in your Hygiene schedule to accommodate your desired new patient flow: 30 blocks = 30 new patients.SCG Patient Retention Establish a set combination of calls, cards, emails and messages as touch points with patients. Set goals and measure the efforts of the team.

A Doctor working 16 days per month with 2000 patients should have 2 full time Hygienists working 16 days each. This will support 1536 appointments, and allow for new patients and overflow to keep your Hygiene Department productive.

If your numbers aren’t adding up to maximize your Hygiene Department, you may need to launch a marketing campaign to attract new patients. If you have 500 or more over due patients, you may look to hire an associate.

If you’re not sure if you are maximizing the hygiene potential in your practice, or what steps to take next, we can help. Give us a call or send us an email.