conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.
Consistency. We’ve all heard about how consistency is key – consistency is crucial – but let me ask. What IS or IS NOT consistent if your office? What would you like to change?
We all KNOW it. We all WANT to be consistent with our systems and efforts. But usually after about 7 days, our attention wanders and we become lackadaisical in our consistency efforts.
Maybe it’s because we didn’t see fast enough results. Maybe it’s because it was just easier to fade back into our “old” consistencies – which if you think about it is what has led you to today.
LACK OF CONSISTENT SYSTEMS = LACK OF SUCCESS.
Maybe you hired a consultant, who TOLD you the things to do or systems to implement, but no one stuck around long enough to SHOW you how to implement the systems, or HOLD you and your team accountable in the consistency to ensure the new systems held tight.
What I will tell you is that consistent systems that become habit are directly related to the success of, well, anything!
Show me a dental office that has core systems defined and utilized consistently, without fail, with motivation and habit as driving factors, and I’ll show you not only a happy, well oiled machine of a team, but I’ll show you a full schedule of happy patients who are referring others – keeping their appointments and following through with treatment.
You know what I’m talking about – consistency within a dental practice will make you or break you. Consistency in recare systems, follow-up systems, new patient care systems etc.
It can’t be a hit or miss. It can’t be team members saying “well, I didn’t have time today to do that” or “I was having a bad day so I didn’t feel like it”. (can’t be YOU saying that either!)
It has to be every day, every patient, every time.
The more dedication a system requires, the longer it will take to become habit. Here is a great read on this very subject. This article says on average it takes at least 66 days for something to become a habit. http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php
If you think just “telling” someone once to change something is going to really effect a long-term consistent change, think again. You need to discuss WHY the change, HOW the change, WHEN the change, WHO is affected, design the change, implement the change and finally the accountability factor.
1) New patients. Do they show up for their first appointment only to never be heard from again? Do they schedule for their next appointment prior to leaving? Do they accept treatment recommendations? Have a solid, consistent plan in place to ensure your new patients are not only completely WOW’d by your care, but schedule their next appointments and refer their family and friends. Want to know how to do that? Check out our fully detailed blog for New Patient BOO or New Patient WOO-HOO!You should NEVER be looking around asking or wondering where new patient so&so went. You should KNOW!
2) Referrals OUT. Have you ever referred a patient out to ortho, a periodontist or oral surgeon, and found yourself a few month later wondering what happened to that patient? Have a solid referral system that is monitored consistently for incoming and outgoing referrals. Who follows up, by when, and ensure that the patient follows through with treatment and appointments. You should personally (quickly) review each follow-up communication received and initial. Your admin team should have noted the patient next appointment or patient communication to keep everyone in the know. Stop losing patients out the referral door! It’s not JUST the follow-up. It’s consistency!
3) LAB cases. Be honest. How many of you have had a patient on the scheduled with reserved time for a crown seat, only to have the patient show up and find out the crown isn’t back yet? YIKES. What a waste of your time, your payroll and the patients time. No appointment for a lab case gets confirmed without verification of the lab case being back. Someone should be reviewing the schedule, consistently, to watch for lab related appointments and verify the status.
4) Unscheduled treatment. How often do patients leave without scheduling the treatment you just recommended? You know, they need to check their schedule – or check with their spouse – or they will call back. Consistent follow-up is CRUCIAL in getting these patients scheduled. If you don’t follow-up in a timely manner, chances are you are not going to see them again until their next cleaning. Follow the 2-2-2 method. Follow up in 2 days, 2 weeks and 2 months. Keep a tickler system, excel spreadsheet – anything that will help you monitor this system, and work it consistently!
5) Broken/missed appointments. Yes, even these must be monitored. Your chances of getting these patients back on the schedule decrease as more time passes. Detailed NOTES are a must (and consistent!) with reason for cancel/no-show, who we spoke with and when we may follow-up. If a patient cancelled due to the flu, if that is noted, not only do we know we can usually follow-up within 2 weeks, but what a great “in” to be able to ask how they are feeling now?? Details. You can never have too many when it comes to follow-up. This list should be worked consistently, if not daily!
6) Recare. Your recare system must be solid and consistent. Haven’t worked the recare system lately? Why not? Oh, you didn’t have time? Well, you’re going to have the time real soon when your schedule drops off because you didn’t work that recare system consistently. Calls, postcards and consistent monitoring will keep your schedule full. You ever notice how your schedule is slammed and then BOOM your dead? This is why. Recare systems fall to the wayside during busy times and this is what creates the slow times. A solid recare system that is worked consistently.
7. Insurance and account aging.For the love of God, RUN your account and insurance aging reports at least biweekly. Do NOT wait until there is such a load in either that it negatively impacts your cash flow! Not only should these reports be ran consistently, any outstanding or overdue challenges should be worked consistently until resolution!
8. Confirmations.Confirm your appointments. By any and all means. Consistently. I have a heart attack if I remote into an office who has not confirmed their very next day. Why would you leave your schedule, payroll, production, income and overhead to chance? You CAN control the majority of your schedule – and by doing this consistently, you may not ever totally stop no-shows or late cancels, but you can control and keep your schedule full. (Here is a blog with great info on that – When Donkeys Fly)
9. Morning Huddles. Yes. I did say morning huddles. Every day. You should know what your day consists of and ensure your team is on the same page. Where to put any emergencies for the day (better than having team members run up to you all day asking where to put one, right?), when is the next treatment opening (so clinical team can offer up that appointment on the spot) and how much undone dentistry is already on the books and walking in your door today. Being prepared, consistently, will make a HUGE impact on your schedule, production and practice. Try it.
10. Answering your phones/Working your schedule. Consistently. 45 hours a week. EVERY week. (Even if you’re on vacation. Even if you have a snow day. Even if you are in CE class) You catch my drift. Show me a practice who answers their phones, consistently, at least 45 hours a week and works their schedule, and I will show you a massively productive schedule. (and it sure helps if the people answering the phone are experienced, warm, friendly, and engaging – What’s it sound like in your office?)
Here’s to a bangin’ 2014 filled with successful consistent systems. Work it baby, work it!
Wishing you a 2014 filled with great happiness, good health and continued success.
POW-POW! Make it the best year ever!
It’s time to replace your boring, non productive answering service with a result producing, proactive, productive, appointment scheduling AWESOME service!