5 Tips for Dealing with No-Shows!


No-shows are a real pain in the incisor for dental professionals. When you add them all up in a year, they equal huge financial losses!

Short of dragging people out of bed or writing their appointment times in the sky, what can you do?

Here are 5 tips you can try.

Tip 1: Employ the Human Touch

We all love technology, but it’s a lot easier to ignore a text or email than an actual phone call from an actual human! (And, in analyzing our own purses and wallets, it’s easy to see why appointment reminder cards get lost!)

Did you know? A recent study from the American Journal of Medicine concluded that patients are much more likely to keep their appointments if they receive a phone call!

So in addition to any automated reminder systems you have, try having a real live staff member call patients the night before to remind them of their appointments.

Tip 2: Follow Up

If you have a no-show, instead of letting it slide and hoping things will be different next time, give them a call within 20 minutes of the missed appointment. It will help them have more personal responsibility for showing up next time (and a wee bit of guilt never hurt anyone). This could be a little awkward, but it’s all in the approach.

Instead of: You didn’t show up. We could have booked someone in your place. What’s the deal?

Try: Hi Margie, we noticed you didn’t show up for your 1:00 appointment today and got worried. Is everything all right?


Tip 3: Get Some Incentives Going

Show that being on time is an important part of your culture. One idea is to have a monthly prize drawing for all patients who show up on time. Promote it around the office and social media. You could even give a slight discount for on-time patients.

Tip 4: Be Kind

Whether it’s an unexpected traffic jam, kiddos caught up at school, or a latte in the lap, life happens. And oftentimes, a fear of being even 10 minutes late makes people throw their hands in the air (like they just don’t care) and head home.

While it’s good to have a no-show policy in place, make sure all staff approach late arrivals with kindness. When people don’t feel like they’re going to be in hot water for showing up late, they’ll be more apt to show if they’re a few minutes late.

Tip 5: Have a Back Up Plan

In a perfect world you’d never have another no-show again. But it will happen, so it’s important to be prepared. Do you have a computerized scheduling system? Create a list of patients who can come in on the fly when you have big chunks of time open from missed appointments.

Share your own tips here! Leave a reply below!

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