Tired of getting same-day patient cancellations and last-minute requests to reschedule dental appointments?
In this video from Xaña Winans, who runs one of the most experienced dental marketing agencies in the country, Xaña will share some tips and tricks to prevent last minute dental appointment cancellations.
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Tell me if this has ever happened to you. It’s five minutes before your next patient appointment and the phone rings.
Yes, you got it, that patient is calling you at the last minute to cancel because “something” came up.
Hi, I’m Xaña Winans, owner and CEO of Golden Proportions Marketing, the most experienced dental marketing company in the country.
In today’s video, I actually have a few “R’s” you can use to cut down on the number of last minute cancellations and no-shows.
First, take “I forgot” completely off their list of excuses. Use text messages and email to send them reminders. You can still use phone calls and even postcards if you want, but they can burn up time and money. Use the tried and true 3-3-1 schedule, which is a reminder 3 weeks before the appointment, another one 3 days before, and 1 the day before they come in.
If they still forget about you after that, then maybe you need to forget about them.
When you send your reminders, use the opportunity to reinforce that they have made a promise to show up. If they can’t make it, they owe it to you to cancel well in advance. And make sure they are fully aware of any no-show penalties you have. You always have the option of waiving the fee for good patients, but let that be the exception, not the rule, so people take it seriously.
Also use your reminder messages to stress the importance of their dental health care and that needlessly postponing or avoiding treatment can have negative effects.
Customer service is one thing, but you don’t have to bend over backwards to accommodate cancellations. If someone calls last-minute to cancel, it is perfectly acceptable to ask why they aren’t going to show up. If it’s because of an illness, emergency, or other understandable reason, then thank them for calling and help them to reschedule as early as possible. On the other hand, if they’re skipping because a hair appointment or round of golf sounds like a better way for them to spend their afternoon, then feel free to lay on the guilt trip. Let them know that the time was reserved especially for them and that their appointment slot could have been given to someone else who truly needed it.
Patient: Hi, I need to reschedule my appointment that I have today.
Front Office: OH NO!!! Is everything okay???
Patient: Um, yeah. I just forgot that I had other plans today.
Front Office: We have two hours scheduled for you today. Is there any way you can keep it?
Patient: Um, no, sorry, I just can’t.
Front Office: OK. I’ll let Dr. Jones know that you had to cancel.
If the patient is a repeat offender, then it may be time to reevaluate whether or not they are really the type of patient you want for your practice. Even if you don’t dismiss them, you can drop them to your short call list to prevent them from creating unexpected gaps in your schedule in the future.
The good news is that weeding out the bad patients makes plenty of room for you to bring in more new patients through your website’s landing pages. If you need some fresh ideas for giveaway promotions to attract new patients, download our FREE Dental Promotional Offer Idea Guide and get those new leads lined up!
Thanks for watching!