Cancelling Dentist Appointments Last Minute Turn Around
Cancelling dentist appointments last minute is more than a drag in any dental office. You can even feel the climate change when a patient calls in to cancel or reschedule their dental appointment that is set for that day! Unless you can take control and turn it around! And yes you can. You have the power. I’m going to show you how!
Short notice cancellations happen in every dental office. There is nothing worse for the dental front office than to have poured their heart and soul into creating a masterpiece of a schedule for their dentist and team, only to have a patient call in sick saying they just can’t make it to their 2 hour appointment this afternoon.
The patient calls into the office with a very sick sounding voice and they apologize profusely. They tell you how much they were looking forward to this appointment, and they had hoped to be feeling better, but it’s just getting worse for them! What can the dental front office do to support their team and their patients in the best possible way?
You sure didn’t see that coming! And maybe you can’t predict these situations. But certainly there are some things we can do as a team to help prevent it. And then we can take a look at the things we can do when those short notice cancellations do happen. The thing to remember here is that we truly do have the power and the ability to turn it around. So if you are struggling with open times due to short-notice cancellations, this is for you!
Cancelling Dentist Appointments Last Minute: Spend Time With Patients
Make a connection right away. When a new patient enters your practice, take the time to get to know them a little. And then at each appointment, make it important. This is something the entire team can do. It doesn’t fall just on the dental front office team. Be sure to also take the the opportunity to create value for restorative appointments.
How do you create value for your restorative appointments?
- Review the amount of time scheduled for your patient with your patient.
- Confirm the financial aspect of the appointment needed.
- Discuss any outside lab involvement in their case.
- Use the word “case” when discussing their dentistry. “Your case” or “Your dental treatment”
- Discuss treatment privately with patient.
- Have patients sign a financial agreement which also outlines the number of appointments needed for their case, and the length of the appointments.
- Remind your patient of the reschedule policy. Let them know you do need notice (whatever your policy is) to reschedule. And get their commitment to your reschedule policy.
Strong Confirmations Help Deter Patients Cancelling Dentist Appointments Last Minute
I absolute love text & email confirmations in the dental office. They are automated and require very little attention on my part. However, I think that automated confirmations are not always enough for the dental restorative schedule.
So, I want to encourage you to take those automated confirmations one step further. Make a phone call to the patients who are scheduled for restorative care and confirm that they understand what is being done. Also, how much time they will be in your office. And then what the cost will be.
The conversation might go something like this, “Hello Joe. I see that you have confirmed your appointment with Dr. Brown by text. Thank you for doing that. I’m calling to make sure you don’t have any questions about your appointment? (pause) We have you scheduled for 3 hours. You will be with Dr. Brown from 8 a.m. until about 11 a.m. He is redoing those upper front veneers for you. We will ask you to pay $3000.00 at your appointment on Wednesday. We’ll see you then.”
Cancelling Dentist Appointments Last Minute: Your Quick Call List
Your short-notice call list is your biggest asset. It is critical to the daily dental office schedule to first create a list of patients who would like an appointment sooner. The best way to do this, is to ask every patient if they are available for short notice schedule changes, and to take the time to get to know your patients.
It is also critical to become the master of short notice reschedules. Learning how to manage those patients who call to cancel will make or break your daily restorative schedule. Learning just what to say and what to do in this situation matter. I have some scripts to help you! And I also have a 3-strike policy to empower you!
Charging patients for short notice cancellations will not turn around what is happening in your dental office. To really get a handle on this, you will want to implement the three strike policy with my reschedule scripts.
Move Like Appointments Forward
You will also want to remember, to always move like appointments forward. If a crown appointment cancels, move a crown appointment forward in the schedule. If it comes up that you cannot move a like appointment forward, there is no crown appointment that will move forward, etc., move a new patient forward in your schedule! Or you can always make an upgrade. But try not to downgrade.
I also have a FREE download available that will help you inside my Dental Front Office Library
This download is “How To Handle Short Notice Reschedules”. The Dental Front Office Library is a password protected page. It contains many valuable downloads and even my Weekly Management Systems. All are available for FREE to my email subscribers. You can sign up here and get your FREE downloads now!
Subscribe for your password to my Dental Front Office Library
Move Same Day Appointments
Another idea, is to move same day appointments forward in the schedule. For example, let’s say the 11:00 implant patient rescheduled at 9:00 this morning. He had an unexpected emergency at the office. And he was unable to leave. It happens. And maybe you’ve looked at your short-notice call list. Nothing jumps out at you that will work.
Try to move another appointment for that day forward. It never hurts to ask. I’ve done this successfully more than once. And it’s usually with a patient that I never thought would move their appointment forward. But when I call them, they tell me they were thinking about what to do. They didn’t want to reschedule short notice. But their afternoon just got crazy. And yes, 11:00 today would be better for them too!
Offer Same Day Treatment
You may also have a patient in the office that needs treatment. Be sure to alert the team with any open appointment times in the dentist’s schedule. Unless you have someone in mind that will take that open time. You may need to develop a code or a system that works for your team. Maybe even a certain color post it would work. You could write “11:00 – 6 units” and stick one in an identified spot for each provider.
Develop a system that works for your team. But you also need to remember to have a communication system in reverse. What I mean is, someone needs to let you know when that time has been filled. If he dentist does an exam with a hygiene patient and moves them to his 11:00 time for a restorative need, you need to know that.
Patients cancel dentist appointments last minute. Try not to stress about this. Instead, accept that it is just going to be part of your life in the dental office now and then. And trust that your team can handle it well. Just follow the steps I’ve outlined for you.
Hygiene patients seem to reschedule their appointments more than restorative. Let me give you a phrase and a technique that will help you. You will find this and other hygiene scripts within the training video above. But it goes something like this. Let’s say you are scheduling an appointment for your patient. And this works for everyone who schedules hygiene!
You make the appointment and make eye contact with your patient. “Okay, Mrs. Jones. You have an appointment for your next hygiene visit with us on December 2nd at 3:00 p.m. Dr. Brown does ask that you give us at least 2 business days’ notice should you need to reschedule.” Pause. Continue to make eye contact and be gentle. (This isn’t a staring contest.) “Could you please do that for us?” Pause again. And wait for their response of “Yes”.
Cancelling Dentist Appointments Last Minute Help!
I’m here for you! If you struggle with managing your schedule and patients, I’m literally just an email away! Perhaps you would like some help beyond the materials available for you here. We can schedule some Zoom time and get you to a happier place. Let’s schedule a time to chat!