18 min readThe Jameson Files 115: Scheduling – Are You Preparing for Feast or Famine?

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Welcome to the Jameson files. I’m Carrie Webber with Jameson and I am your host for this podcast. I’m so glad that you’re joining us again today for this episode. And today, what we’re going to be covering is something you may be feeling coming up for you in the fall. We are in September, 2020 now. And so looking forward to the fall, we’re going to be talking about your scheduling practices. Are you planning for feast or famine? I hope that if you haven’t already, that you would consider subscribing to this podcast. You can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. iTunes, Spotify, or Google play. You can also access videos of past podcasts on the Jameson blog at jmsn.com/blog. If you’d like to see the video aspect of this episode, you’ll be able to find it there in the future. So I hope that you will subscribe.

Carrie Webber (01:13):

And if you would like to participate in live streams for the remainder of 2020, we’re going to be live streaming our podcasts on Facebook, live on the Jameson Facebook page every other Wednesday at 11:30 AM central. So make sure to follow us on social media, either on the Jameson Facebook page or on our Instagram page, so that you can get those updates and notifications when we’re preparing for our next live stream. I’d love to see you live with me in one of our future podcast episodes. So again, for today’s episode, we’re talking about your schedule. Are you preparing for feast or famine? When we talk to our clients right now, as we’re several months into recovery from the shutdown of current, from coronavirus, we find many of our practices in one of two scenarios either. They really did a good job in honoring foundational scheduling approaches and there, but at the same time, they’re trying to recover and bring in patients that they had to reschedule because of the shutdown.

Carrie Webber (02:19):

So you may find yourself very full if you’re in feast mode. So you’re very full, you’re very busy. In fact, you may be struggling with where can I even put new patients or restorative work or something down the line. You may be booking so far out in advance that that’s becoming a concern for you, or you’re looking into your fall schedule and you’re seeing potential famine. You’re seeing a dip in your scheduled appointments, more than likely in the hygiene realm, because we brought in a lot of our patients really quickly at the very beginning of reopening. And perhaps now we’re seeing that six month dip because of the missed opportunities in the spring. So are you in that famine mode? So what we’re going to talk about today are both of those scenarios and some approaches that you can take either feast or famine, whatever the scenario is to help you stabilize, recover, and start back on a path for growth.

Carrie Webber (03:20):

We want to make sure that we’re not too busy, being busy or too busy, being overwhelmed to work on the systems of our practice to help you be healthier and happier in your practicing lives. When I was preparing for this episode, I thought about a trip that my husband and I took with our two sons. We have two young sons and a couple of years ago, we took a trip to the far corner of Oklahoma. We live in Oklahoma to a state park called black may says state park. And at black Mesa state park, there are dinosaur footprints embedded in sand stone in a ravine. I was there when I was a kid. And so I remember going and finding them and taking pictures with them. And we thought our sons would really enjoy that as well. So we go, it’s a little difficult to find. It’s really difficult to find the footprints. They’re not marked very well. There’s not much signage out there. And so we were aware, we felt like they would be, and we were looking and looking in this ravine and we couldn’t find them anywhere. And we knew that erosion had caused many of the footprints originally discovered in the eighties to have been washed away over time.

Carrie Webber (04:32):

But there were still some remaining, we were sure of it. Couldn’t find them. Couldn’t find them. My husband finally went up to a ledge that overlooked the ravine about 15 feet above us and looking down sure enough, there they were. We were standing right on top of them. And it makes me think about where you may be right now in your practice. We’re so in the weeds, we are so inundated in the work that we can’t even see the opportunities that are around us for growth and development. So I want to work on that for you, with your schedule, as you work, to recover back to a more streamlined, less chaotic, less stressful future schedules. Let’s take a step back if we’re standing to the point in the, in it to the point that we can’t see it anymore, let’s take a step back and look at what your trends have been for the last couple of months and what your forecasted to do in the future.

Carrie Webber (05:28):

So not only where you are now, but how you’ve been performing since reopening and what your schedule has looked at, look like and what your schedule is telling you in the, in the not so distant future. If you find that you’re in the feast, let’s talk about the feast first, if you’re overwhelmingly full, it can be very understandable if your schedule is bursting at the seams, perhaps not as, as it could be, but it’s certainly busy. But remember busy-ness does not equate to productivity. So we want to make sure that we’re honoring foundational scheduling, that we’re scheduling to a production goal even still today. Even though we’re trying to get all of our patients back in and back into a regular mode, we are intentionally scheduling to that production goal. So that we’re meeting or exceeding that, and that we’re honoring the blocks in our schedule.

Carrie Webber (06:28):

We have a beta practice that we work with at Jameson and checking in with our doctor about her false schedule. Things are looking good. She’s busy except for the blocks that they’re holding for larger restorative work. They are intentionally holding space for that kind of care because they know if they have, if they need to get it done, they need to have the room in the schedule to do that. And we want to make sure that those primary blocks are honored. You want to be blocking and honoring those blocks, both in hygiene and restorative so that you have consistency across the board. If we can’t see new patients for months and months and months, that’s not going to help the future of the practice. Is it a lot of our clients that are doing the scheduling foundations? Right now they are able to see new patients in their communities and are some of the only practices that can, and it’s only because they’re holding room and they’re scheduled.

Carrie Webber (07:24):

They’re not letting those go. Even though it’s tempting, we are holding on to those blocks. So honor the blocks in your schedule and hold room. This is going to help you if you’re overwhelmed in hygiene and even those efforts are help, are, are falling flat for you. You may need to look at adding hygiene hours. You may need to do a super hygiene day to catch up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and hygiene looks far out and what your books are for, make sure we’re keeping an eye on, not just today, not just next week, but the next several months, because the six month gap is upon us from when we shut down. So we want to make sure that we get that stabilized as quickly as possible, because what you’ve been feeling will continue to occur every six months because of how we schedule.

Carrie Webber (08:15):

So we want to make sure that we’re honoring those blocks and scheduling to a goal. If you’re not already pre scheduling your hygiene appointments, start now. If you’ve never done it before now is a good time as ever to begin. Kathy Jameson always says the best time to schedule an appointment with the patient is face to face. When your patients are in the practice, we want to be scheduling them for their next appointment as effectively as possible with them face to face. So working as a team on how we can do that better or how we can implement that, if you’re not doing that consistently and have a process for that in place as we speak. So making sure that you’re pre appointing, this is not only going to stabilize your schedule for the future, but it’s going to give you a clearer grasp on how your practice is performing and how your schedule is doing so we can adjust accordingly. And it is the best way, most effective way to build value for those appointments and get those patients on the schedule consistent today,

Carrie Webber (09:17):

More than ever before. In my opinion, every appointment is a golden appointment. We talked to a lot of practices that you may have some special hours one day a week, or you may see patients on a Saturday, or you may come in at 7:00 AM for an extra hour in the mornings for, to be able to accommodate the time needs of your patients. What a generous thing to do and an added value in terms of customer service that you’re providing. But they’re also those golden appointments, right? When your patients don’t show up for those or cancel last minute, that really hurts because you have a lot of patients that want those those time slots, right? So right now, as you’re in recovery, especially if you’re in feast or famine mode, every appointment is a golden appointment. So we want to make sure that we’re lifting up our efforts in confirmations, doing a little bit more to build the value for those appointments and ensure that we are indeed confirmed with that patient to show up for those appointments.

Carrie Webber (10:20):

We were speaking to that as you were reopening as an important next step and next level effort to reconnect with our patients, to rebuild the value in the relationship we had with them. And the same is true for now because our schedule is so precarious in this, in this time, we want to make sure that we’re taking the efforts necessary to strengthen the accountability factor of those patients showing up. So elevating your verbal skills to doing a little bit extra with your patient communication softwares or with a phone call to make sure you’re building the value for those appointments. And that those appointments are indeed confirmed is going to make a difference in your schedule moving forward. So if you’re in the feast, make sure you’re honoring those pre blocks, especially for large restorative work for those important hygiene appointments for new patients, make sure that you have your being the architect of your schedule and keeping it under control.

Carrie Webber (11:19):

We don’t want it to start controlling us that we’re scheduling for that production goal, and that we are addressing this as a team on how we can refine it, how we can do it better, and that we’re pre appointing patients when we can. And that we are taking those confirmations to the next level, to ensure consistency in our patients and reduce those broken appointments and no shows. Now on the flip side, if you’re in famine and you’re foreseeing a glimmer future in your schedule, either in restorative or in hygiene, or you’re starting to feel a dip in restorative now, whatever the case may be, we hear a lot of scenarios. Remember you got to work the lists and work the processes. So if you’re not currently running past, do lists for hygiene appointments, do it now and start reaching out to those patients that are past due for their next holiday gene appointment.

Carrie Webber (12:15):

This is where I went. I spoke in the last Jameson files episode. You may recall, we talked about in the battle against practice fatigue and team fatigue right now, we want to make sure we have champions on our team helping to move things forward from your scheduling coordinator, to your hygiene retention coordinator, having someone who is ultimately responsible to help champion that cause will make a difference for you. So thinking through who could be a great hygiene retention coordinator on your team to help make those calls run those reports, making sure that we’re starting to prioritize outreach based upon how far past due they are, start with the most recent past due and go from there. This is that proactive, intentional approach to fill your schedule and get those patients back in the practice. It will make a difference instead of sitting in waiting and hoping that they call or schedule or do what was usual and customary before we’re going to have to take it to the next level.

Carrie Webber (13:17):

And that little extra amount of energy on the front end is going to ensure a more successful schedule moving forward. It will be worth it in the end. So making sure that you’re working your past do hygiene list every single day, we’re working on that, especially now, if you see gaps in your schedule coming up, we want to be really working on that intentionally. And if you haven’t started considering a hygiene retention coordinator in your practice now might be a great time to look into who you might have on a team that could really help champion that forward for you and with you using again, your patient communication software, to be more authentic in your outreach. Most of the larger patient communication softwares in the past year have really upped their game in terms of the tools that they have available for you and the way that you can interact with the patients.

Carrie Webber (14:09):

I know that Weave, RevenueWell, and I believe SolutionReach all now do two way texting where it’s a little less of that automated, robotic outreach that your confirmation texts that are just set on on autopilot are, this is where you can really start reaching out to people the way that they like to communicate. We know that most people these days like to communicate by text. So using the two way texting function can make a big difference using personalized emails. And if it comes down to it, a handwritten note, do it doing whatever is necessary to help you move forward. Don’t be overwhelmed by this, just think and brainstorm as a team about what’s the next first step. That would be a help to move us forward. So using your software is that most practices are not maximizing to their greatest ability to support you.

Carrie Webber (15:03):

I’m a big fan of looking at the tools you already have in your practice and finding ways to utilize them even more for the benefit of you, your team and your patients. And this is one of those areas in your next team meeting. I want you to brainstorm, especially if you’re feeling some dips in production in your restorative side, where are those patients, those beloved patients that you all know as a team have dentistry diagnosed and unscheduled incomplete. There’s probably a lot of it in your practice. And if we work as a team on identifying and talking about who we need to be reaching out to, to try and get in the schedule and get that necessary dentistry done there’s power in the group. I am a big fan of the team. There’s power in our teams when we work together to make a difference.

Carrie Webber (15:56):

So include them in these conversations and have brainstorms about how we can more effectively reach out to these unscheduled opportunities in our patient family and do the work to bring them back into the practice. So use that time in your team meetings to identify that your daily huddles, if you’re doing a really effective agenda and you’re following Jameson’s recommended agenda in daily huddles, this is a time where you’re identifying opportunities in the schedule patients for today that may have additional needs, needs that we would want to address. When they’re in the practice, remember the best way to help a patient see the value of necessary treatment to schedule appointments. Everything is more effective face to face. So doing the work in your daily huddles to identify those needs as well, help you all get focused on working towards the practice goals. So if you’re in famine, remember to work your past, do a hygiene list every single day, don’t let those patients fail away and become inactive, right?

Carrie Webber (17:03):

Do the work. And that will help you fill your schedule for the future. Having a really great move forward list is going to help you and using your patient communication softwares in a different way, in a more effective and personalized way is going to help you as well. If you don’t have a hygiene retention coordinator, start looking into that today. So you have someone who is on point first person up to bat to help you fill that hygiene schedule and using your team meetings to brainstorm how to help patients see the value and working on your verbal skills together as a team and role playing together, those scenarios that you are more effective in those important conversations with your patients, which leads me to my final recommendation, which is for both feast or famine, make sure you don’t let your team meetings and daily huddles fall away.

Carrie Webber (17:58):

Are you having effective and consistent team meetings and daily huddles, they’re more important now than ever as my father, Dr. John Jameson would say that is the most valuable investment he made in his practice was the time he invested with the team working on the practice, not just in the practice. So I encourage you right now, if you are having inconsistent daily huddles, if you’re not, if you haven’t had a team meeting in months since you’ve reopened, because you’re, you’re just overwhelmed. I understand you’re busy, but this is a blocked time in your schedule that is equally as valuable as that primary block for tomorrow morning. Make sure you’re honoring it as the time that it is valuable time working on the business. That is your dental practice as a team. If you want to engage your team at a deeper, deeper level, if you want help, stabilizing and growing and getting through this season, this is going to be an important factor for you, your team and your practice, and it ultimately will be a positive impact for your patients.

Carrie Webber (19:11):

So do the work. The power’s in the group. Utilize your team and tap into their talents, their potential, and their understanding of your patients and how the practice is performing brainstorm together and put a plan in place. No matter what you’re looking ahead toward in the fall, there is an opportunity for improvement. If you start right now, now is as good a time as ever. And it’s imperative that we do the work and focus, and don’t be timid. Don’t sit and wait and hope. Put a strategy together, make a plan and work together to pursue it and make progress. So work forward to growth recovery and a healthy, happy practice. And if you need help in any of these areas, feel welcomed to reach out to us at Jameson. We’re ready to help you. If you want to have a discovery call with me to talk about your practice specifically and how Jameson can be a support to you, reach out to us on our website at jmsn.com.

Carrie Webber (20:11):

I also want to encourage you once again to subscribe to this podcast. So you don’t miss an episode. We love having you listen in and joining us and spread the word. If you feel like this could be valuable for any of your dental peers and follow us on social media, we’re on Facebook and Instagram, and we’ll be giving you notifications when we go live on Facebook again, and we’d love to have you with this live when and where you’re able. So thanks again for joining me for this episode of the Jameson files. Take good care and I’ll see you next time. Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Jameson files, visit us online at jmsn.com. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Google play music or Spotify. Do you have questions or topics you’d like for us to answer or cover on the next podcast? Email us at [email protected].

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