A How-To Guide to Filling Your Schedule with More Appointments
Whether you’re looking for new patients, or you’d like to see some familiar faces in your office, we have a few ways to help fill your schedule with more appointments today!
The first step in any patient-practice interaction is a call – a call to ask about services offered, a call to make an appointment, a call to confirm. So how your staff answers the phone and interacts with patients is crucial. It’s important to view the front desk position as your First Encounter Welcome Desk! It’s an opportunity – maybe even the most important opportunity – to convert potential patients into current ones.
Make sure your entire staff is well-versed on all your services, your specialties, accepted insurances, your opinions on best practices, and what you’re willing to do to accommodate patients. Having strict guidelines to follow will ensure everyone is on the same page and knows how to speak to any patient in any situation.
Book Appointments before They Leave
Now that every member of your team is an expert on the phone, you’re booking appointments left and right! All of these new patients have the potential to become life-long patients of your practice. So whether they only need regular check-ups, or they have more serious issues, remind and encourage them to come back to your office by setting up their next appointment before they leave.
This starts at the end of any procedure. As the doctor, direct the patient to see the front desk and check out. This gives your team an opportunity to schedule them for their next appointment, discuss their treatment plan and payments options, and ensure that the patient has had a good experience. And an appointment card is a handy reminder to put on the fridge or tacked to the family calendar – somewhere they’re sure to see it.
Reward Patients for Their Business
Small rewards at the end of an appointment can brighten anyone’s day. That little extra gift shows your patients that you care about their experience. It also encourages them to come back and see you again.
Kids love getting a goodie bag filled with stickers, toys and prizes. Adults will appreciate useful items, like toothbrushes and dental kits. Give custom lip balm so your patients can help you advertise wherever they go.
Current patients are your best source for new patients. If they leave happy, they’ll take the time to recommend you to family and friends, and their influence can do a lot of good for your practice. Show them that loyalty pays off by setting up a referral program! You’ll need to do a little research about what your state allows for your practice, but these programs can vary from the simple to the largely robust.
Take some time to think about what you’d like to offer, what you can afford, and generally how the program will work. What are the limitations? How will you market it? Who’s eligible? Once you have these basic questions answered, you should be in a good position to move forward with your plan.
If you can’t afford a full-blown referral program, or your state has restrictions, you can always just ask patients to refer you. Frame it up as a favor, or as one of the biggest compliments you can receive as a doctor. If they’ve had a good experience, they’ll happily oblige.
If you still have a few open slots in your schedule, online advertising can be a low-cost, high return investment. The easiest digital advertising to navigate and procure is on social media platforms. They’re filled with algorithms that can put your content directly in front of your ideal patients.
Some options are free, like setting up a Facebook or Yelp! review page, or an Instagram or Twitter account. Facebook Targeted Ads cost money, but they allow you to choose your audience by location, age range, gender, interests and behaviors. It’s great if you’re familiar with your audience or have one in mind. Instagram also has promoted posts that can help you advertise specific promotions, and expand your reach and number of followers.
If you feel hesitant about investing money in something you don’t know how to operate, you can always outsource it to a skilled professional. Hire anyone from a single independent contractor to an entire agency, and watch your patient list grow!
Need more ways to keep patients coming back?
SmileMakers has products for everyone, so go ahead and give them something to remember you by! Visit SmileMakers SmileSource for more ideas, tips and tricks to keep your patients happy, healthy and smiling.