The first few months of any new year can be very profitable for dental practices. A fertile combination of New Year’s resolutions for better oral health, new or renewed insurance benefits and tax refunds leads to more new and returning patients coming in when they are more likely to accept treatment.

With a good marketing push to help along a natural inclination, you must be ready to accommodate this influx of patients, now and into the future. Keep reading for some proven strategies for getting patients into your practice and keeping them coming back.

Please note: To properly take advantage of tax season, your goal will be to get more treatment in the books, but remember, patients often don’t know when they need treatment. Instead, they come in for a teeth cleaning, and that is your opportunity to discover necessary treatment.

Schedule Into Prime Time

Focus on scheduling for your patients’ convenience, not yours. We’ve observed repeatedly over 40 years that these patients refuse to take time off for routine dental care—and that is amplified when people are afraid of losing their job, such as during a recession.

Remember, most of your patients who have a larger tax refund to spend on dental care are wealthier working patients whose work schedules are not very flexible. They are much more likely to make and keep appointments that do not interfere with their work schedule. That means appointments ending by 7:30am, beginning no earlier than 5pm and on weekends—what we call Prime Time.

Accept That Cancellations Will Happen

Plan for cancellations even when you’re adding appointments. This is important in a normal year, such as in 2019 when we tracked cancellation rates to be as high as 34%. It is even more important during the pandemic recession, during which we’ve projected cancellation rates as high as 42%. To make up for potential cancellations, we can help you set up systems to overbook, add columns to your schedule and utilize assisted hygiene during high-production times (prime time).

Add Capacity Permanently

While the goal during this time of year is to capture the treatment production of new and existing patients, the real value of those patients is having them come back every six months indefinitely. However, if you don’t add capacity permanently, you won’t have enough appointment slots for all your existing and new patients. When patients can’t get an appointment when they expect to, they quietly and without explanation leave your practice. Therefore, it’s important to regularly and permanently add capacity.

Adding capacity could mean expanding your hours, adding hygienists and/or associates, or even expanding your office to have more operatories. At chrisad, we have customized systems and solutions to help our clients grow year over year. We use our database of client data combined with your practice’s actual data to help you make informed decisions that will result in long-term practice growth.