Episode 601: Smooth Sailing Scheduling

scheduling Nov 10, 2022

Your schedule is the heart of the practice — if it’s not done well, everything crumbles from there. Kiera and Tiff share the most important factors to consider when it comes to perfecting your schedule. 

The top three questions to ask yourself at the end of the day to know if your scheduling is going well or not:

  • Did you get out on time?

  • Did you hit your production goal?

  • Is staff pulling their hair out?

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0:00:05.6 Kiera Dent: Hey, everyone, welcome to the Dental A Team podcast. I'm your host, Kiera Dent. And I had this crazy idea that maybe I could combine a doctor and a team member's perspective, because let's face it, dentistry can be a challenging profession with those two perspectives. I've been a dental assistant, treatment coordinator, scheduler, filler, office manager, regional manager, practice owner. And I have a team of traveling consultants, where we have traveled to over 165 different offices, coaching teams. Yep, we don't just understand you, we are you. Our mission is to positively impact the world of dental. And I believe that this podcast is the greatest way I can help elevate teams, grow VIP experiences, reduce stress and create A Teams. Welcome to the Dental A Team podcast.


0:00:51.0 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera and I've got Tiff with me, we are working on our patchwork quilt. If you missed it last week, go listen in for our inside joke on 5-star patient experience with our second business of system quilts made by the one and only Tiff and Kiera, customed for your practice. [laughter]

0:01:09.0 Tiff: That'd be great.


0:01:11.0 KD: But today, we're diving into our next system topic, and that is smooth sailing scheduling. Tiff, this was again, another one of your prime namings. How did you even come up with smooth sailing scheduling? It's such a good vivid image of what this system should be.

0:01:27.3 Tiff: I have no idea. I think I was thinking, if I'm honest with you, I was like I want them to all be S's.


0:01:34.7 Tiff: I wanted them all S's. [laughter]

0:01:36.6 KD: I wish you would have done an SOS with the sailing in there, like, you know, are you calm enough...

0:01:41.0 Tiff: See now, you're going to have to change it.

0:01:42.0 KD: No. It's smooth sailing scheduling 'cause it's so good. Because it just gives a really good image. This is what the system of your practice should look like. If your scheduling on doctor side and hygiene side is not smooth sailing, this episode is for you. This might be an area by end of year that you might want to consider, 'cause I truly feel the schedule is the heart of the practice. If that's not done well, good luck, everybody, you're on your own, I wish you the best. Your day is gonna be junk if that schedule is not done well. And so it's really, is it smooth sailing? Do we have our pieces in play? So we're gonna walk you guys through this system.

0:02:19.0 KD: Again, if you're new, you're just joining us, Tiff and I are going over the next 12 weeks giving you guys 12 systems, like themes, that we believe every practice should have implemented. We purposely are doing this 12 of them, so there's one per month of the year. We're also doing it right now for the next 12 weeks. We're kinda going to consolidate this in for you, that way you guys can by end of year, look back on all 12 of these system themes and see where are you the strongest in your practice and where are you the weakest in your practice, to help you set goals moving forward for next year. So Tiff, let's take it off on a smooth sailing scheduling. And I did just see your note. Why don't you just tell them your SOS? You already came up with a new one, guys. You're going to have to weigh in on our topic. Go ahead, Tiff, tell 'em.


0:03:05.0 Tiff: I was like, "I can't not. I have to now."


0:03:08.3 Tiff: It's system of scheduling.


0:03:11.6 Tiff: But I do feel to give some pieces to their weighing in, some pros and... Smooth sailing scheduling feels positive, and SOS feels reactive. [laughter] Scheduling, of course that's great, but SOS feels reactive. So...

0:03:28.3 KD: Well, I think it would be, who are you? Are you the SSS, the smooth sailing scheduling?

0:03:32.0 Tiff: Yeah.

0:03:33.0 KD: Or are you the SOS, come save us, help us because... Save our souls over here, we're about to go down under? I think it's fair.

0:03:40.0 Tiff: Absolutely.

0:03:41.0 KD: So, you get to decide.

0:03:43.0 Tiff: So if you are the SOS office, email us at [email protected], with a just quick SOS and we'll know what you mean.

0:03:50.8 KD: Exactly.

0:03:50.9 Tiff: If you need any help...

0:03:52.5 KD: We'll jump right in, we will save you guys, don't worry, you do not need to sink your ship. So let's go through a couple of the things. When it comes to smooth sailing scheduling, I think number one, first and foremost, is do we get out on time and did we hit our production goal. Those are my top two things, with a third little asterisk of: And did everybody want to rip their hair out at the end of the day, or were we high-fiving? 'Cause that's a huge indicator. We could get out at 5:00 and be productive, but want to rip our freakin hair out. So it's... I think those are kind of my three caveats on it. But do you have any other pieces that you really look for, Tiff, on scheduling?

0:04:26.9 Tiff: Well, I think something to point out right now is... Again, Kiera already said it, if you didn't listen to last week's, go listen to last week's, and if you're not in it to win it on that, you're not gonna be in it to win it on smooth sailing scheduling. Last week was all about the 5-star patient experience. And I really do believe that if we've got all of those pieces in line, they're working the way that they should be. Our team's really jiving and flowing correctly, the scheduling... The flow of the schedule is a lot better. So if we've got those 5-star pieces, that's kind of why we did it in that order, so that you can get those 5-star pieces in place and then roll into the 5-star scheduling. There's another name for you.


0:05:05.6 Tiff: So I think when it comes to scheduling, it's how did the team feel? And how did the patient? Always have a heavy focus on patients. And we're always looking for what do the patients... What's gonna make the patient happiest? Sometimes it comes at a detriment to our team, which means it's ultimately a detriment to our patients. We've all seen the schedules, where it's like, "Well, Susie could only do 3:00 PM, a two-surface filling on one tooth. And I could be doing a crown prep. Doctors are just... " or, "Joanna can only do right after she drops the kids off at school at 8:00 AM." So we've got this hodgepodge trying to make the patients happy and trying to get their schedules accommodated, but we're not necessarily accommodating our own schedule or making our schedule flow the best for us as a practice.

0:05:57.0 Tiff: So we're not always hitting goals. We're pulling our hair out, that goes into Kiera's point there. All of those pieces are being missed. And so really, when we've got an angry and upset team, do we have smooth sailing scheduling? Are our patients getting that 5-star patient experience if our team is pulling out their hair and feeling like they're running ragged? I don't think so. But if all those pieces fall into place, your patients are getting the experience that they want. So I don't think you can fully focus on either side, it's gotta be a combination of both. It has to work for production and our team's sanity, and then it has to work for our patients as well. And if it works for us, that means they're getting the experience that they deserve.

0:06:38.8 KD: Yeah. And I love, Tiff, that you talk about like, the schedule, guys, you make the schedule, I'm just gonna call it how it is.

0:06:45.6 Tiff: Shocking. [chuckle]

0:06:46.8 KD: You make it, so if your life is psychotic, that's on you. Patients don't dictate the schedule, we've trained them that they think that they can dictate the schedule, but guys, I don't get to call up my IVF doctors or even my dental office and be like, "Excuse me, I will only see you at 2 o'clock today. Attention, everybody, Kiera Dent's coming in, 2:00 PM only."


0:07:06.8 KD: Hard pass, no. I don't think that way, I don't act that way. Do I travel? For sure. But I can still fit in their schedule. They gave me an 8 o'clock, I wanted a 7 o'clock, I was not, "Oh, I will never come back here without a 7 o'clock." It was like, "Cool, I can handle 8:00. If a 7:00 opens up, let me know, but I can do 8:00." Guys, I'm a pretty high maintenance client and patient as well, and yet I don't walk in with that hoity-toity attitude, nor do most of your patients. You've got a few of them, that's okay, they can be dismissed or they can play by the rules, it's their choice, but really looking at that... So, on the schedule, I think we've given you guys quite a few pieces of over-arching, but a couple of other pieces on there are, is your schedule booked out two weeks, do you have your new patients' referrals source being tracked, do you guys offer online scheduling, do you guys have new patient blocks in the schedule?

0:07:58.0 KD: Do you use block scheduling, do we have our next month's schedule to 50% of goal by the second week of the month, do we have a strong morning huddle to ensure that our day goes smoothly? Do we have less than 2% missed-call rate, because I feel like phones go into the scheduling system. Do we have a phone tree in place so we're not missing those new patient calls, do we have a cancellation policy in play, do we have... Are we tracking our attrition of our patients? Do we have an active reactivation campaign going? Do we give walkouts to all of our patients, make sure that every one of them is scheduled for re-care, do we utilize our ASAP List? And not just like check, check, check, I'm like are these freaking in your blood? Do you think about this all the time, are they on a cadence, do we have protocols written for them? Does this happen to where you guys can literally hit production, be out on time, not want to yank your hair out and have patients go where you guys want them to go? That's how I would rate myself.

0:08:51.8 KD: Hello, Dental A Team listeners, this is Kiera, and you guys, how was your 2022? I want you to look back and tell me was it the year of years or was it a really hard year? Did you crush it or did it crush you? This is the time, guys, for end of year Dental A Team Platinum is welcoming you, where we will physically fly to your practice, we will come and we will elevate your dreams and make them into a reality. And guys, space is limited and prices are going up. This is not a sales pitch, this is not something where I'm trying to scare you into it, I'm just facing the reality of inflation is here, flights are expensive, and I want to see as many people as we possibly can and serve as many as can. So if you want to be part of our elite group of people, there are limited spaces, 'cause our consultants can only see as many.

0:09:43.3 KD: We are taking on 10 new Platinum offices by the end of the year and that's it, that's all we have space for. So if you want to be one of the elite 10, come join us, be a part of our top notch elite doctor community, be a part of our office manager and hygiene and front office communities, get your operations manual done and live the life that you've only been dreaming of today. Email me [email protected] and make 2023 truly a year that's unforgettable. We are a complete tax write-off, and like I said, we are only taking 10 offices, so don't get left behind, be one of those 10, and I cannot wait to give you the biggest, warmest welcome to completely and utterly changing your life for good. Welcome to the Dental A Team, I can't wait for you to join us, [email protected]. Cheers to 2023 and making you your best self yet.

0:10:39.5 KD: And so for Tiff and I, let's get vulnerable, 'cause we'll make it actionable on our side. Let's think, Tiff, our schedules, consultant schedules, the consultants get to make their own mayhem, let's rate.


0:10:50.8 KD: Tiff and Britt, who... Or Britt and Dana, who knows if they're gonna listen, but Tiff, we're gonna vulnerably... We're gonna rate their schedules, so I don't quite know how we're going to rate it. I'd say do they get out on time, do they get all their client deliverables done every month and are they able to deliver to their clients? For us, guys, it's kinda like a pro-female, it's like every 30 minutes, watch out. So I will give my schedule, I will rate myself. I actually give myself, if I'm doing a five-star rating on my schedule, I actually would give myself a 4.5. I think I've got super tight scheduling, I make sure I've got all my client deliverables done every single month, and I feel like I also have time to do other projects in the company because I've maximized and operated my life.

0:11:35.2 KD: Tiff, you might think my schedule's a 1, because I do calls one day out of the week, and I start at 6:00 AM and go until 3:00 PM, I am rocking solid, never even take... I literally had to hit mute and go to the bathroom, guys, it was that bad. I'm like I have got to go and there is no stop. You guys understand that you're running in between patients, but I think if I'm looking at giving clients deliverables at my availability to be a team player for the company, to be able to serve all of my clients and give them the best service and not want to rip my hair out, I think I'd give myself a 4.5. Tiff, rate your schedule. Let's have you rate your schedule.

0:12:12.0 Tiff: I think... Yeah, I think of mine, my gut is a 3.5 on my schedule. I think I do really decently at getting my calls done between drop-off and pick-up time for my kids, getting projects done when I can and thereafter, but I think... And I think I've done better at Monday and Friday project time, meeting time, project time, etcetera. But I do think that I still do have a lot of times where it's like it's more for the clients' schedule, and I'm kind of trying to manipulate things on my side to make it work instead of being able to get it to work for both of us easily, if that makes sense. Travel-wise, I'm solid there, that's usually pretty easy.

0:12:57.3 KD: Yeah, and to Tiff's point, I think we are in a service job. Our job is to be accommodating to clients. I get calls at 6:00 in the morning, at 6:00 PM, and do I take those? The answer is absolutely yes, because that's when clients need it. So to Tiff's point, I agree. I think that our consultants, I won't rate Dana and Britt, 'cause they're not here and they can't even defend themselves, but I think something Tiff and I have done well that I think other new consultants don't do as well is I let my clients know, "This is the day I do my coaching calls," 'cause honestly... And don't worry, Karen and Christina, I'm looking at you and I'm calling you out on the podcast, they will tell you, if you are not on my coaching call day, I will legitimately forget about you, 'cause it's not in my routine of calls, and I'm like, "Oh, dang it, I missed you guys again." And so I think for that, that's why I tell my clients, "This is why I do my calls on this day," and also in the beginning of the week, I like to do my calls with my clients, that way they've got the week to work on it.

0:13:56.3 KD: If I'm catching them on Thursday and Friday, they hit that weekend, they're not able to implement as well. We don't get as much traction. So that's honestly my reasoning for doing it, where I do it, and my clients understand and they can make that. I'm like, "Guys, I'm literally asking for an hour-and-a-half a month. Not a huge commitment. Can you give that to me at these times? That way I'm the best for you, and you're the best for me." And it works. So I think for you guys, are you doing that with your schedule and do you have these items? As consultants, we freaking block schedule our schedules. [chuckle] We are learning that we have got to do that for our clients and for our teams as well. We've gotta make sure that we are calling out our clients who used to work with us, just like you guys do for re-care. The exact systems you do in your practice, Dental A Team also does on our side.

0:14:43.3 KD: So, I would have you guys go through, rate your schedule. Again, the top three things are, do you get out on time, did you hit production, and did we want to high five or did we want to yank our hair out? If you can answer the three things of the positives, rock on. I'd give yourself at least probably like a 5 out of 5 on this section. If you're not... And I'm talking like, we're hitting those goals 90%, 95% of the time. It's not like, "Oh, yeah, once we got it, so we get five star." No, it's the general consensus of that, are you doing that, and if so, rock on, and if not, let's tally this, let's add this to our 12 systems that we're going through, and let's see if maybe at the end of the year, smooth sailing scheduling is where you need to go because you're the needing help with the SOS, the system of scheduling. Like, you need to get that down before you can get your smooth sailing scheduling. Rate it up, and let's see where you're at. Tiff, any last thoughts on your side?

0:15:34.0 Tiff: No, I love it. I love it all. I think it's all... I'm right in line with that. Scheduling is huge, and I think our block scheduling has helped a ton. And I know I work with so many practices on block scheduling, and I get push back so often, but it really, really just makes such a huge difference. You guys, the block scheduling, we just went through it with Dana on her schedule, and I was like, "Holy cow, I thought I had my schedule down," and I think I need to go through it again for my own personal schedule too. So if you're not doing block scheduling, listen to it, this month is gonna be huge, and get it done. That's just as easy as it is. If you just take these pieces and you just implement them, everything falls into place.

0:16:17.6 KD: It does. And I think that's the hard part, is execution. So if you're like, "SOS, I need help right now. I can't wait till end of year," email us, guys, [email protected]. I made a comment of this earlier that, yes, our Platinum, we only have so many spaces for Platinum, our travel offices, and those fees are going up due to inflation and airfare costs, truthfully. So if you want to snag it, it's also a great tax write-off for practices. We do account for that, so you can write us off 100%. A lot of offices pay for us in full 'cause they're looking for some of those purchases to do end of year, so if that's you, you guys are there, email us, [email protected].

0:16:54.2 KD: Let's get you guys that smooth sailing scheduling instead of the SOS, or any of these other systems. We work on all of these systems within our practice, making sure that they truly are over-arching, five-star practice for the patient and for the team, and they really do feel like these systems are in place, that they're checking them off. So reach out, I'd love to help you and, Tiff, thanks for this labor of love. We will be catching you guys next week on maximized case acceptance. You'll for sure want to tune in for that. And if this is helping you guys, these 12 systems, be sure to share it with a friend. Leave those five star reviews. We super appreciate it. And as always, thanks for listening. We'll catch you next time on the Dental A Team podcast.


0:17:34.7 KD: And that wraps it up for another episode of the Dental A Team podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.




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