A general dentist friend told me the other day that she had a 100 percent no show rate for all the patients we sent them (we send out dozens of patients to GPs every patient day we have). I found this terribly interesting seeing how these same patients come to our office and pay for braces then, by and large, return for their adjustment appointments. So how is it possible that these same folks literally never show up for their GP appointments? Let’s consider the possible reasons. 

  1. Our patients and their families do not value dental care at all and therefore they make appointments for the dental treatment and/or dental cleanings I recommend with no intention of showing up.
  2. My friend does a bad job of tracking patients and some do show up.
  3. My friend’s staff has decided that patients from my office are “low quality patients” and treat them as such with predictable results – people who are treated badly on the new patient phone call don’t show up. 
  4. Patients will pay for what they want but not what they need. 

Here’s the rub though… I won’t start treatment until a patient has had their restorative done and/or a cleaning/checkup in cases where I determine that they need either (I’m a dentist and have no problem making this call) AND I have a ton of patients that I send to see a dentist who come back with clean, restored teeth. How is this possible? They are getting their cleanings and restorations done somewhere. 

So what does this tell us in the broader sense? A great deal if we are willing to listen…

When we and/or our staff decide that “those people” (people from a certain part of town, from a certain referral source, with a certain kind of insurance or whatever) are “low quality leads”, “less motivated patients”, “less likely to start”, “don’t show up”, we treat them as such and, as one can reasonably expect, they act in the way we expect them to act (and they don’t show up). Who the hell is going to tolerate being treated like crap, talked down and then do business with you? OF COURSE THEY DON’T SHOW UP!!!!!!!

This unwillingness to look at what we do as the primary cause of the results we get is a chronic disease in orthodontics and dentistry at large. Until we address our shortcomings and failings we should not expect different results. And just in case you think you can fake it and act like you care about “those people” or think they will come to your office when you don’t, know now that it won’t work. People can smell our BS and they know when someone genuinely cares vs when we are acting like we do. 

What’s that you say? Your staff is awesome and friendly and courteous to patients? You know this how? Because your friends who come to you say so? (Here’s a hint – your staff knows they are your friends and treat them accordingly so they keep their jobs.)

Long story short – if you are unhappy with your sucky results then you might want to consider the possibility that your staff (and even you doctor) kinda suck and need to change your ways. Most of you won’t listen and know better and will be offended by this post. And you’ll keep sucking it up and getting terrible to mediocre results and continue to be baffled as to what could be causing your lack of success. But a few of you will take this to heart and do some hard self examination and you’ll see awesome, positive change. I hope you can guess which group I care about. 

5 thoughts on “100% No Show Rate!!

  1. For some millennials and certain lower middle and lower class demographics #4 is the main reason.

    1. Says you. How do you know? How do you explain why I have tons of patients who get the dental work and or cleaning that I recommend then come back and pay for treatment? This kind of attitude and presumption is not only off base but harmful to your practice. If you believe it is true then you and your staff will treat these folks differently and you’ll make your predictions come true. I hope you can stop pre judging people and treat everyone the same – if you do you’ll see better results.

  2. The Alchemist: ‘When you want (expect) something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’

    Totally agree… You kinda get what you expect. And most people know how you feel about them no matter what you say.

  3. Making money and making excuses are mutually exclusive skill sets.

    “Your referrals don’t show up,” is a cleverly-disguised excuse, more accurately explained as, “My office didn’t convince your referrals to show up.”

    Yet, healthcare is not the only industry that erroneously classifies buyers and non-buyers based on their own internal biases.

    In car sales, there’s an old and inaccurate “truism” amongst salespeople that “there ain’t no be-backs.” In other words, when a customer kicks the tires or completes a test drive and says “I’ll be back later next week,” the salespeople don’t believe them. They assume the customer will never come back.

    These salespeople manifest their own reality and this is why most of them get poor results. They’ve either been taught or have come to their own conclusions that most customers never come back. And yet, they do nothing to create and stimulate a referral list. They take no proactive measures during slow months. They fail to call past clients who are due for an upgrade. They have zero systems in place to nurture the leads that aren’t yet ready to buy, etc.

    Based on our data from over 20,000 new patients scheduled for our clients this year, over 42% of orthodontic and dental practices do not answer the phone live within 6 rings. If the phone call isn’t connected, over 78% of these leads never call back.

    The average dental and orthodontic practice cannot get new patients into the office within 7-10 days for their most-popular new patient appointment times. Over 62% of new patients are unable to get their preferred, or first-requested, appointment time.

    The majority of new clients who hire Burleson Seminars to fix their practices have zero availability within 6 weeks for the most-popular new patient appointment slots. When we track no-show rates for these appointments, it hovers near 90% because the average consumer lives paycheck to paycheck.

    According to the Federal Reserve Board, nearly half of all Americans can’t cover an emergency expense over $400. If mom has the money today and you can’t help her for six weeks, you’ve lost that new patient forever.

    Sure, there are affluent consumers in your market who will crawl through broken glass to get to your front door because their dentist referred them to you or their best friend insisted that they come see you, but there are fewer and fewer of those consumers, especially as competition increases.

    Ben, you are absolutely right. Anyone who says 100% of your referrals won’t show up needs to look in the mirror and ask why they’ve created a business that fails to provide enough compelling reasons for new patients to show up.

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    If this dentist somehow finally gets his or her act together with welcoming your referrals, they will then immediately screw up the new patient process, the treatment plan presentation and they will try to sell the new patient something they either don’t want, can’t afford or will give them zero reasons why they should desire both.

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