September and October can be a slow time in the dental office schedule. After a summer filled with child check-ups, everyone returns to school and the schedule lightens. The combination of hectic back to school schedules and the expense of school supplies, clothes and fall sports leave many families without time or financial resources to visit the dentist. Summer is an expensive time with increased child care costs and vacation expenses for many families. The credit card bills from that vacation in July are now due which squeezes the budget even more for many families.
My practice experiences this slowdown every year so we take steps ahead of time to combat this tendency. It can be difficult in the busy months of summer to find time for additional marketing, but a few simple steps have helped us to avoid too much of a decline in the early fall months. In August, we check through our overdue recall and outstanding treatment plan reports. Patients with an overdue recall are sent a postcard which is followed up by a phone call a couple weeks later. Patients with an outstanding treatment plan are offered a discount if they schedule during the month of September or October.
These months also afford an opportunity to highlight a special promotion such as free whitening. Online advertising and social media are great outlets for getting the word out about a new promotion or special. Google Places allows status updates which can run for 30 days to highlight a new product or promotion. Twitter and Facebook provide easy updates to current patients and potential new patients, but you must remember to use location specific keywords in these updates. Blogs provide easy content updates to highlight special events as well.
I have found these fall months to be a great time to take a vacation. Popular vacation spots are less crowded and more affordable, as families have headed back to school. Closing the office for a week or two provides the added benefit of creating a more efficient schedule in the weeks surrounding the vacation. This is also an effective means by which to control payroll overhead if your staff is paid on an hourly basis.
What steps does your office take to avoid slow production times?