Q: My production goes up and down drastically from week to week and month to month. I never know if it’ll be a “good month” or a “bad month.” How can I get my production to be more consistent?
A: Thank you for your question! This is an important topic because it’s difficult to plan ahead and manage your overhead properly when the numbers are unpredictable. It can also give you a “fool’s gold” scenario where you have a great month and think this is the new normal… only to have the rug pulled out from under you the next month.
To put it simply: consistent production is a result of consistent action.
Production doesn’t just magically happen because of fate or luck. Production is created internally through the actions taken by you and your team.
Specifically, the production is created by:
- Presenting cases, patients accepting and starting treatment
- Tight coordination between the team
- Lots of contact with your patient base
- Efficient scheduling
- Consistent follow up with your patients
- Reactivating overdue/inactive patients to get them back in the office
- Referral programs to get patients’ family and friends scheduled
There may be more items to add to the list, but these are the basic actions that create a productive schedule.
In most normal practices, the “alarm bells” only go off when production drops dramatically, or the upcoming schedule starts to look light. Faced with this impending disaster, the team jumps into action. This leads to a flurry of activity amongst the team to get more production and patients on the schedule ASAP. It’s “all hands on deck,” the phones light up and the team becomes extraordinarily active.
Things get busier, the disaster is averted (hopefully) and then… things go back to normal. Until the next time production slumps.
If you only “wake up” when there’s a disaster, then you’re never going to have consistent production.
To make production more consistent, it’s actually rather simple: You need to isolate the things you do to increase production during these “disaster” times and figure out how to get them done on a regular basis.
This doesn’t mean that you need to make all your staff operate in a “Code-Red Alert” level of activity all the time. But with some clever organization, you can figure out how to make some of these actions (calls, emails, etc.) part of the routine.
For example, at MGE we’ve developed a Reactivation Program (a specific series of phone calls, emails and letters to patients to get inactive patients back in for hygiene) that our clients use to keep the hygiene schedule full and reduce patient attrition. This isn’t something they only do when the hygiene schedule empties out—they work on this every single day. To start, you may have the Scheduling Coordinator work on this an hour a day. Or if you have a good number of patients not on the hygiene schedule, you could hire an employee solely dedicated to this. One of our more inventive clients hired several local high school and college-age students to come in part-time (after class hours) to make phone calls to inactive charts. They reactivated hundreds of patients per month this way.
So, look at what you do to fill up production during these slumps. It may be things like:
- Your staff spending time on the phone to get unscheduled patients in,
- Spending more time with patients during the case presentation and financial discussion,
- Moving patients up to fill holes in the schedule,
- Coordinating in the morning huddle so everyone knows where holes in the schedule need to be filled and which patients coming in have outstanding treatment, so someone can talk to them and get them started on it,
- Getting emergencies and new patients in same-day,
- Asking for referrals,
- Sending out marketing, etc.
Make it a policy to do those things on a routine basis and ensure the staff have time dedicated to doing them. If you need to hire more staff up front to keep up with this, it may be worthwhile to go ahead and do so.
And then you’ll have more consistent production.
Of course, there’s a lot more to learn about increasing production and creating consistent growth—how to design your schedule, organization, assignment of job duties, case acceptance, new patient marketing, etc. That’s why MGE is here. We teach you effective systems to create sustainable practice growth and profitability. Come to one of our upcoming seminars or schedule a free Practice Analysis here to do a by-the-numbers assessment of your dental practice and see how you can improve production and efficiency.
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