Curbing Last-Minute Cancellations

Few things are more irritating to a dentist and team than patients who cancel at the last-minute, leaving big gaps in the schedule. And it’s normal for dentists and teams to want to march the offending patients out to face a firing squad for their “grievous” offense.

Once cooler heads prevail, the question always comes back to how to prevent patients from cancelling without proper notice. Unfortunately, you cannot stop this rude occurrence, but you can greatly minimize it from happening by training your patients to respect your time.

If a patient called this morning to cancel his afternoon appointment, how easy would you make it for this person to reschedule? Too many practices allow the patient back into the schedule within a few days. Consider what this communicates to the patient. When a dental appointment is inconvenient, just call the practice and they will reschedule you for a more convenient time. Is that the message you want to send?shutterstock_268729973

One of the most effective ways to curb last-minute cancellations is to make your patients wait to get back in the schedule. When people learn it will be at least a month before they can reschedule, their priorities often change. Suddenly they can make the appointment, and they learn that cancelling is not a viable option.

There are definitely exceptions to this protocol such as when patients are sick, or when patients are suffering from a dental infection that cannot go untreated for a month.

It is also important to watch your phraseology when scheduling an appointment. Consider using the phrase “we are reserving this time just for you” when you make the appointment. This helps reinforce the fact that time is blocked off specifically for that patient.shutterstock_308951840

If you want to minimize last-minute cancellations in your schedule, train your patients to respect your time. Instead of enabling them to disrupt your day, guide them to keep their commitments.

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