One of the most important things you can measure in your dental practice is production. Production is what keeps the lights on, pays your staff, and your kids’ tuition, among other things. It’s what keeps your practice practicing, what ultimately keeps your patients healthy.
For all its importance, you would think it would be easier to track. But just because it’s hard to track doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And honestly, once you know the trick, it doesn't have to take you hours and hours to track your practice’s production. The trick? Break production down into manageable pieces that you can easily track. Here’s how we do it at Dental Intelligence:
We discussed the first half of production (Visits) in an earlier post. If you haven’t already seen that, you can read it by clicking here.
But what about the second half of the production equation? What about those practices that are already bursting at the seams, who have their Visits knob cranked to 11 already? Their hygiene slots are booked for two months or more and last-minute cancellations are less of a problem and more of an opportunity to squeeze someone in from their long waiting list. You would think those practices are good to go, not a problem in sight. Right?
Not necessarily. Having your schedule full is good, but you’re not focused on optimizing Production Per Visit as well, you’re probably just working more without seeing much of a difference on your bottom line. So let’s take a look at the different options you have for increasing Production Per Visit and setting your practice up for success.
Increase Your Fees
There’s a reason this is first on the list. What we’re really talking about is supply and demand, and it’s one of the first levers you should consider pulling to increase your production per visit. Now, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of solution. If you’re not already busy, chances are that increasing your services won’t help you land more patients. However, if you are so busy that:
- Your soonest hygiene appointment is measured in months and not weeks, it’s time to raise your fees.
- You’re considering extending your hours to accommodate everyone, it’s time to raise your fees.
- You regularly lose business because you don’t have an opening soon enough, it’s time to raise your fees.
The basic principle is this: the lower you price your services, the more demand there will be for them. Conversely, as you raise your fees, demand will naturally begin to slow. In this case, that’s a good thing, because while the pressure on your schedule eases due to higher fees, your production per visit will be increasing.
Choose Your Best Patients
When you consistently have a full schedule, you have the luxury of being picky with who you choose to schedule and who you choose to let walk out the door without an appointment scheduled. That means that there’s no need to continue to reschedule patients who cause you and your staff headaches.
You can go about this however you want, but most of your stress-causing patients will simply fade away if you stop chasing them. So when a chronic canceler inevitably cancels, just don’t offer to reschedule. The same goes for the patient who always shows up 30 minutes late and throws your whole schedule off. Requiring that everyone pay at time of service will help you winnow out patients who never pay their bill on time. Maybe none of those problems bother your practice, but something else does. Whatever your situation, if you stop accommodating the patient behaviors that disrupt your practice, you’ll find that your practice runs smoother and more efficiently—and you’ll see your production per visit increase.
Expand Treatment Offerings
This can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. Expanding treatment offerings isn’t just about adding new procedures and services. Sure, adding sleep apnea and aligners to your services can help increase your production per visit, but that may not be the simplest solution.
Instead, consider starting by consistently offering the optional services you already have available. It’s not uncommon for practices to see a significant increase in production per visit just by focusing on simple add-ons like fluoride, sealings, and teeth whitening.
Diagnose More Treatment
This may seem like an odd suggestion. After all, you should just diagnose the treatment your patients need to get healthy, right?
Yes. But what counts as a healthy mouth at your practice? Does everyone agree on what that means? Unless you’ve instituted common standards in your practice, it’s likely that some practitioners are under-diagnosing their patients. This is another easy way to increase your production per visit. All it takes is getting everyone on the same page so that your whole practice is diagnosing the correct amount of treatment.
Increase Case Acceptance
Increasing case acceptance isn’t just for increasing visits. It’s also a valuable tool for increasing production per visit. The key here is helping the patient understand the importance of accepting 100% of your diagnosed treatment rather than just some of it. A few things you can try to increase acceptance include:
- Make sure that your patients understand the importance and urgency of each procedure you diagnose.
- Use clear and easily understandable language instead of technical jargon.
- Offer a small discount or free perk (i.e. teeth whitening) to incentivize same-day treatment and 100% acceptance of sufficiently complicated procedures.
- Focus on helping the patient get healthy, not on the cost.
If you can get your case acceptance up, your production per visit will inevitably follow.
Now that you’re on your way to optimizing production per visit, it’s time to take a look at the other metrics you need to be tracking. Check out 3 Dental Metrics You Need to be Measuring.