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  • Michelle Shimmin

Utilizing Your ‘Downtime’ to Build Your Team & Practice

With school starting, many offices notice an increase in “down time” between 9am-12pm. Here are some GREAT ways to remain productive during those slower chunks of the day.

1. Use scripting to fill the time slots. Our #1 choice for these hours will always be to fill them; patients on the schedule equals production for the office. Scripting is imperative in order to fill these time slots. It is important to make the patient and parents feel you value their time and want to maximize their quality of care and time in the office. We never want to make a patient or parent feel like ‘we are too busy for them.’. Adult patients often have more flexibility and are able to miss a meeting at work (or are working from home these days!) and they appreciate this quieter time in the clinic for their appointments.

2. In depth cross training with the ENTIRE staff. We want to empower our staff to have thorough knowledge in all areas of the office. If a patient asks a question, we want any staff member to feel confident in giving them an answer (or be able to jump in and help your fellow team member). The days will run smoother for both your patients and your team as a whole. Use this time to look at and update office playbooks and manuals for each position in your office.

3. In depth training in our own areas. We know that our business is ever changing and growing, take advantage of this time to meet, learn and train in our own areas. The steadiness of the clinic typically does not allow time for in depth training, which is even more important if you have newer clinicians. Cross train your front staff on how to check insurance, review scheduling protocols, answer treatment questions, and take records for exams.

4. Dive in to patient follow up. Run reports and follow up on Will Call Back Exams, Observation, Active patients, Phase I Retention, and Cancelled Exams. Personalize and invest extra time into this follow up communication! Don’t rely only on your automated text/emails to remind patients of their appointments. Make that phone call and send that personal email or text. This can be a team project and doesn’t have to fall on front office; clinical staff can jump in and help as well! Make sure to create scripting for each status so you have consistency. Using this opportunity to fill these slow hours can creating revenue for your office!

5. Schedule employee reviews. It is easy for employee reviews to fall to the wayside or not happen at all. Many times, doctors and team members are asked to do reviews either during their lunch hours, before or after come work, or even worse during patient hours just to get it done! Using this time for reviews will allow the review to not feel rushed, and give personal one on one-time team members deserve.

6. Schedule out long staff meetings. Order in lunch for your team and have your team build the agenda buy giving input on what they would like to discuss.

7. Team member appointments. Encourage and ask staff if they want to take off a morning to spend with their family, schedule doctors’ appointments, help with virtual schooling, or just sleep in! We want to make sure we ask and explain the reasoning for asking, but never make someone take this time. We value our employees and never want to make them feel like their work is not appreciated. If they take this time, they will be more encouraged not to ask for time off and will put in that extra work when they are working.

8. Schedule team photos. When was the last time you had staff photos done? There is value in making all of our employees feel valued and are patients current on your team by keeping your social media and website updated. Fall mornings are a beautiful time to get outside and take staff photos and headshots. Reaching out on social media helps to build great relationships in the community (which hopefully will bring in more patients!) Often times photographers will offer discounted (if not free!) sessions if you promote their photography business on your social media!

9. Put together a marketing team! Come together as a team and brainstorm and put together marketing baskets for referring dentists, referring patients, new dentists, and even local businesses. Dedicate teams of 2-3 people to certain locations and send them out to promote or market your practice. This is great for team bonding!

10. Set up lunches. This is a great time to set up doctor lunches with new dentists and referring dentists in the area.

The bottom line, slow hours in the office are going to happen. However, you can make these times productive a positive for your offices. We would love to hear from YOU on our social media (Shimmin Consulting’s Facebook or Instagram) how your office has had success in taking advantage of this down time!

~Lisa (Shimmin Consulting, Clinical Consultant)

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