Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey!)

As we all know by now, I’m a huge fan of reducing and eliminating no show appointments. I take missed appointments very seriously. I’ve studied them for years. There ARE things you can do to prevent them from being a problem in your office.

I’m not afraid to put my money where my mouth is. Here’s a very short video of our ACTUAL practice management software showing you our EXACT number of attended and missed appointments for the month of November 2012.

As we move through December and get closer to the holidays, many offices are PLAGUED with last minute cancellations and no shows. Shopping, baking, and decorating make their way to the very top of ‘To Do Lists’ and going to the dentist gets pushed down to the bottom.

How do you keep that dental appointment a high priority in the mind of a patient?

Here are a few tips:
1. SPEAK to the ACTUAL patient when confirming. Don’t just leave a voice mail. Try calling the patient at multiple phones numbers (work, home, cell) and keep trying until you reach the patient.

2. Do NOT allow last minute cancellations to take place. RECOGNIZE THE WARNING SIGNS of a patient who is about to cancel their appointment for later that day. When a patient calls you in the morning and says, “I HAD an appointment for this afternoon…” gently interrupt them and say, “Yes, Mrs. Smith-the doctor HAS an hour reserved JUST for you today….how can we help you?” It should JUMP out to your receptionist when a patient is trying to cancel by using the word, ‘HAD’. They still HAVE the appointment! Often times, by being proactive and reminding the patient that the doctor has reserved time just for her, that patient will pause and rethink cancelling.

3. Utilize the New Patient Reservation System. All of your new patients will show up once they’ve gone through the system and will continue to respect your time for future appointments with your office.

4. Collect payment (or at the very least a deposit) BEFORE the day of treatment. If a patient has some money invested in your office, he/she WILL return for treatment.

5. Get that phone answered! Taking some time off around the holidays? It’s nice to take some time off, but it stinks when you come back to the office only to listen to messages and find out your schedule for the day has completely fallen apart. Contact Mary Beth at Dental Support Specialties. They will answer your phones when you aren’t there and they will schedule patients for you. Isn’t that great?!

6. Express value. Express value. Express value. Absolutely EVERYTHING your staff says and does should make the patient feel like they’ve chosen an AMAZING office who can truly help them through the dental process.

Got more ideas you’d like to add? Share your ideas with the world in the comment section below!

About Missy


  1. Two things:
    1. Make your REMINDER calls the day before in the morning between 7.30 and 8.00. They are NOT confirmation calls, because those should have been already done two weeks ago.
    2. If you have not been able to reach one of your patients for their reminder call the day before, CALL THEM TOO at that time today between 7.30 and 8.00. Just because you left a message, doesn’t mean squat! Get them while they are getting ready to leave for work.

    If a patient works nights, and are in bed between 7.30 and 8.00, flag their account and respect their request not to receive calls at that time. Everyone else is fair game! And, you can preframe your patients to expect a call at that time when they are coming in for their new patient appointment, giving them the opportunity to say if that doesn’t work for them, and clarifying what DOES.