Slow appointment book? What a great opportunity!


There are a number of dental practices who are still enjoying full appointment books. These practices are often those who have been established for many years. Their patient base is one whose loyalty has been cultivated over time through the caring and trusting relationships that have been developed. These relationships are such that patients are not enticed away by the attempts of their health funds to seek ‘cheaper’ services.

It is natural for less-busy practices to become anxious about their future. Despite cutting down on expenses and instigating advertising campaigns, they are left with little growth and improvement. It is difficult to see the dental team simply ‘filling in time’ when they would normally be bustling with busyness. It is deflating and, over time, becomes difficult to remain optimistic. You cannot shrink your way to greatness.

I was lucky to have purchased a well-established practice when I entered into practice-ownership. However, we still experienced slower times over the years. I remember a gastrointestinal surgeon who shared the building once said to me, “Even my work ebbs and flows. It makes no sense that from month the month the demand for colonoscopy’s fluctuates. So if I have slow periods, dental is assured to.”

This advice, although stating a harsh reality, was of comfort to me. I then accepted that the appointment books were never going to be permanently full. I instead looked for the opportunity of how best to manage these less-busy times. The answer was obvious: team collaboration and training.

The best use of your team’s time when they are not managing patients is to develop their own capabilities and implement improvements in the service they deliver.  

It will energise your team and generate success above and beyond any other strategy.

When else do you get the opportunity to sit down as a team and brainstorm how to ‘wow’ your patients? How to achieve greater results? How to work more effectively as a team?

Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states as the 7th habit to ‘Sharpen the Saw’. To preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have-you. Apply this advice to your team. Enhance and sharpen your greatest asset – your team.