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Filling Late Cancellations


Dear Sharyn

Even though our hygiene schedule is booked until March, we have a number of openings every day due to late notice cancellations. My front desk team have trouble filling these openings because they either can’t get ahold of patients or patients don’t want to come in. What can we say or do so we can get patients to fill these times?

A.J. Ohio

Dear A.J.

This is an issue I’m hearing about more and more. We’ll put aside the issue about re-training patients to keep to their appointed times and focus instead on filling the openings. I am going to strongly discourage your team from moving patients who are already scheduled to fill a last-minute opening. Cannibalizing patients from the future week to fill an immediate opening, only moves the problem downhill and worse, shows patients that it’s okay to change appointment times. Instead, run a report on unscheduled patients and call them. When your front desk team calls these patients, the emphasis needs to be on connection versus pushing them to schedule. Here is a suggested script:

  1. How are you? We’ve missed you. How have you been coping with everything?
  2. Tell me, have there been any changes in your overall health since we last saw you?
  3. How about your oral health? How has that been for you over the last 18 months?
  4. (Option 1: patient has concerns) That sounds like something we should check out as soon as possible. In fact, we could see you tomorrow at …
  5. (Option 2: If no concerns) I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling well. Let’s make sure that everything checks out so we can keep you feeling healthy.  Let’s bring you back as soon as possible. In fact, we could see you…
  6. If patient refuses to appoint: “Of course we want to make sure you’re comfortable coming back. How about this? Could I get your permission to call you again in 3 weeks just to check in on you? (If patient says yes) What time of day should I call?”

This script enables your team to focus first on re-establishing a relationship with the patient and gently move the patient towards a path of agreement. And if the patient is still hesitant, the last question creates a way forward to making an appointment in the near future.

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

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