Episode 213 – Requested Replay: Getting Creative with Your Office Hours
“If I had an office in Maui and I wanted to surf every morning, I would have my office open from noon – 7pm. If surfing is your thing, then do that, make that a reality.” ~Dr. Chad Johnson
What if we told you, you could work whatever hours you want?
“Wait,” you say. “Don’t I have to be open 9-5 like everyone else?” Not necessarily!
Not only is it possible for you to have a thriving dental practice that is open during hours that work best for you, it might just be the best business move you’ve ever made.
So join us today as we explore creative office hour ideas that could make your life – and your patients’ lives – better, including:
- What works best for you as a provider and business owner
- What your patients want (and a quick tip about percentages)
- The 3 things you need to do to make your ideal schedule a reality
Welcome to the everyday practices Podcast. I’m Regan Robertson, and my co-host Dr. Chad Johnson and I are on a mission to share the stories of everyday dentists who generate extraordinary results using practical proven methods you can take right into your own dental practice. If you’re ready to elevate patient care and produce results that are anything but ordinary. Buckle up and listen in.
Welcome to another episode of the Everyday Practices dental podcast. I am your host Regan Robertson here with my esteemed co-host Dr. Chad Johnson. Chad, how are you doing today?
Dr. Chad Johnson
I’m doing well. How are you doing?
I’m doing well. You know, I wonder though, for all of our business owners out there and all of our dentists out there. Yes, how creative? I know how creative you are but how creative listeners are you with the hours that you keep your office open? That’s question number one and question number two before we dive into this do you choose your hours because they are convenient for your patience?
In this episode of the Everyday Practices dental podcast, Dr. Chad and I are going to offer a creative hack. Thanks to Chad. I’m this is all on you today, buddy. For your hours of operation that may help you shift into a more satisfying schedule for everyone involved.
Dr. Chad Johnson
Yeah, so whatever kind of I imagine 90 plus percent of you are using electronic records and so you would simply be like, you know, kind of cut to the chase you use your practice management communication software, Lighthouse revenue, well, you know, just stuff like that and you email out to everyone a survey, monkey Survey Monkey as a website, app, whatever, survey monkey.com and if this gets too old, you know someone’s listening to this 10 or 20 years from now there might be a newer better way to do this but overall, you just want to go to surveymonkey.com and send out a survey to all your patients saying we are typically open. This is just going to be an example we are typically open from eight to five Monday through Thursday.
We’ve been considering expanding our hours for patient convenience. from eight to five to now seven to five. Would you be interested in having that be a reality, then one of the answers is, you know, like, it could be a five-star rating, or it could be a one, you know, one through five kinds of thing. Five, absolutely, I would. So take you up on the offer of three beings, you know, like, yeah, this kind of interesting one being No. Or I’d even leave if you guys were open at that time or something like, you know, something like that. So then we sent this out to all of our patients and the way I was looking at it, let me come up to the mic a little better.
So, okay, so the way that I was looking at it was that I needed it when we were opening, from seven to four, and we switched it to six to four. What I was going to do was I was going to work six hours from six till noon and so that was just going to be my clinical day six to noon, six unencumbered, straight hours of clinical dentistry, you could fit all your big blocks in and that’s the advantage to that you don’t have lunch, breaking it up and then my associates would work, you know, something like, you know, mid-morning, like nine or 10 until four or five in the afternoon.
I want to pause you here was six to noon, like your ideal schedule. So from the provider from the doctor’s perspective, that was your ideal schedule.
Dr. Chad Johnson
For me, yes. Because number one, I’m a morning person and number two, I was just like, Yeah, let’s just get the day done with then I can have the afternoon to do whatever. So I would get a workout in the afternoon, I would go pick up the kids from school, you know, just stuff like that. So those were a few advantages that I found to be important but then also my one facility was now getting to shifts. So we weren’t having the office sitting fallow for a long period of time, you know, because normally, you know, yeah, so Farming. Farming term there.
Let me googling quickly. All right.
Dr. Chad Johnson
So if you’re working four days a week, really your office? I mean, if you’re doing for eight hour days, out a year, what is it 176 hours in a week, you’re working 32 It’s just like your office is really mostly closed with a few hours that you’re exceptionally working. Otherwise, it’s sitting fallow. So it’s just barren. Yes. Yeah. destitute? Yeah. It’s, yeah. So. So then the idea was, if I could, you know, split the split it into two shifts, and I could have my operatories and get everything done.
The associate could have the operatories, you know, for getting all the work done, rather than sharing, and then having it sit the rest of the day, or the rest of the week closed. So, when I sent it out, I was like, you know, we’re, we’re open 568 hours. So every hour is 12%. If you know, one eight, there’s 12.5%, then if we switched to 1/9 not being open nine hours, then that’d be 11%. So I really needed to get about 11% of my patients to say, Yeah, I’d take you up on the 6 am appointments. Because I
don’t always how you worked it?
Dr. Chad Johnson
Well, because I don’t need 100% of people to say yes, I don’t want 100% Because if all of a sudden 100% of people want your 6 am Well, I suppose at that point, you’d consider Should I open at six and close at 8 am? You know, like if 100% of your people want 6 am That’s ridiculous. So you want people throughout the day, I mean, you know that 11 am in the 1 pm is kind of tight.
So we’re, you know like you’re sitting around sometimes because no one wants to come at 11 and one and stuff like that, they kind of just go okay, I guess I’ll take 11 and one and stuff and that would change again, from area to area but you know, if people are off to work now, a big, big parenthetical thought COVID changed a lot of this COVID changed, you know, are people working from home? Are people working at all?
Are people interested in going to the dentist at all? So a lot of these questions that we took for granted are now you know, changed. I hope that in a lot of areas that’s changing back but it was quite a disruption and maybe for the better maybe for the worse, you know it filled your Lebanon’s and we are 1 pm because people were just like, shoot, I’m working from home but we found that our six AM’s were not as popular as before COVID When people had to get to work by seven, I even think about our teachers and I’ve brought this up on the podcast before our teachers would come in at 7 am they have to be at work at 7:45 am or else they have to take the morning off at least in our district.
So that would change from district to district and state to state but you know it was mandated then at that point that so even if they went from seven to 8 am they were having to miss the whole morning further dental appointment twice a year that’s rough. So 6 am man they’re done at seven they can still kind of piddle and get to work and get some coffee and stuff like that and still make it by 745 and be Ready for the school bell to start? So I sent this survey monkey out and we got back our report from the survey monkey that said about I think it was 10% of the patients said, Yes, I, you know, five stars, I would love to come in at 6 am Well, then it’s done.
I don’t need 100%, you know, yes, I actually was working off of the margin, I only needed 10 ish percent of the people to say yes, and indeed, that’s what we got and it wasn’t quite 11%, or, you know, just 12.5 and stuff but I was like, That’s close enough that I can fill it and we can call them our executive appointments, or our sunrise appointments or something like that, you know, we came up with some ideas for that.
It’s so how So how has the schedule gone? Since you implemented this really early schedule, I mean, I would be one of the 10%, I would absolutely jump at a 6 am appointment. Because I’ve, I’ve always had this assumption that people don’t want to work really early, and they don’t want to work really late but as you know, part of my health care team is a 40-minute drive from where I live and so going in the middle of the day takes out a significant chunk of my day and because of, of my role in the company, I’m able to adjust my own schedule, but not everybody is. So I would jump at that. So what were the results of the 6 am? Did you get it filled out? Or did it? Did it
Dr. Chad Johnson
follow suit hit? Yeah, follow. They were an absolute hit and then the other problem was like, you know, patients were like, I hate these 6 am appointments but they’re, it’s better than coming at seven or eight or nine. So in other words, patients still hate coming to the dentist’s either way, it’s not like all of a sudden, you know, it was a delight but the people would say stuff like, Man, this 6 am is early do you get up like is are you guys open this early all the time and I just say I’m a morning person, I just get it done, you know, I’m done by noon, and boom, and, and so they’d go well, Thanks for doing this.
Because this is nice as, as much as this is no fun being here at 6 am, it at least gets me on with my day and stuff like that and then even some of the third shift people that would wait until, let’s say, 8 am, they get off of work at 5 am and they’ve been working the third shift overnight, and then they have to wait until 8 am or something for their cleaning appointment. I didn’t even think about that. Right. So it’s kind of cool, because the 6 am, they could come from work straight to the dental appointment, and then go to bed.
So there were a lot of advantages to this and the key point is using survey monkey to find out do your patients want to end but also remember, you don’t need 100% satisfaction at 6 am you only need one eight or 1/9 of your appointments to come at that time and then the rest, you know, the people that are happy with seven still can come at seven, the people who are happy at 4 pm or 3 pm can still come at that time.
You know, but you’re looking for those, the people to fill in and it really helped with my surgeries. I felt like if I had block appointments or wisdom teeth or stuff like that, people kind of wanted to be NPO and just get it done with sedation and they could get it done at 6 am and have the rest of the day to recoup and stuff like that. So that’s how it helps me.
Oh, what about your team? Did you survey your team? I mean, you’re an early bird but was your front office an early bird or your hygenist? early birds? How did that work?
Dr. Chad Johnson
Yes and no, just because they’re not? Well, let’s remember these early birds and morning people. You know, love the morning and stuff like that but then we morning people also have to be civilized humans in the afternoon and in the evening. Yeah, people that aren’t early birds also need to be civilized in the morning and get up and get moving. So like to me, it’s kind of a cop-out if I never hear like, I never hear people say hey, do you want to get together at 6 pm? Oh, I’m a morning person.
It’s not going to work for me. Do you know? Like, that just doesn’t work but it’s funny, though. Non-morning, people can get away with that basically the whole morning to some degree by saying, oh, yeah, I’m not a morning person. So basically, like, I’m just going to check out you know, and it’s just like, it doesn’t quite work that way.
So, yes, I asked my employees, you know, would you be interested in working at that time because I didn’t need all of them to come in at 6 am. I just at least first the start or the first six months I needed one to come in at 6 am and one assistant and maybe one front desk person and so it wasn’t cool, but at the same time, what I offered was you get the afternoon off so you’re done early, and then also increase your pay to this and that and so we kind of did a play around with that but that did actually change after COVID after COVID in Des Moines in Iowa and stuff like that.
We have quite an insurance-driven crowd and not from a dental insurance perspective like our industry is a lot of insurances, home insurance, you know, life insurance, all that stuff like that. So people go in and, and they’re, I think we just come from an industrious culture. So the insurance companies figured out, hey, these people are getting into work at 7 am or 8 am and, you know, they worked a full day and they, you know, they they’re a clock in clock out kind of, you know, person and stuff like that.
So, they have these, this work ethic to come in and work at seven. So they, you know, we’re an insurance capital, and a lot of people then wanted those 6 am appointments and were willing to switch until they were working from home from COVID. That’s when people started switching away from the 6 am.
So we have not done that when we started finding when we opened up from COVID, that no one wanted the six AMs if they didn’t have to. So that’s being sensitive to your team sensitive to your area, and stuff like that. I like starting at 6 am but it also now we start at 7 am. Again, and there might come the point in the next five or 10 years that I want to open back up at six and how that would work is I would send out a survey monkey that’s, that’s the key is you’ve got you mentioned that at the beginning, you alluded to the patient. Yeah, who is the owner?
What do you want? And what is your team want? Because just because you want it? Is no one on your team willing to work it even for a pay incentive? Your host, you can’t pull it off? You know, like you can’t pull it off if you don’t have your team there. So you do have to make sure hey if I send this out, would you guys be willing to work it? Oh, you wouldn’t? What about $1? More an hour?
Would that do it?
Dr. Chad Johnson
Would that do it? Okay, well, yeah and so you can play around with that and figure out, you know, is it more efficient for you to just get it done? By having a 6 am appointment? Now, 6 am in your area might be ridiculous. You know, you might be in an area where work doesn’t really start until nine or 10. In the morning,
I was just gonna say but think about the employers in the area like you just said certain people that have graveyard shifts, we have a gigantic refinery in our town. So I don’t even know what all Yeah, I don’t know what their work shifts are. So I think survey monkey is really a bright idea, do you? How often do you do survey monkey to check the hours? Is it like something where you notice, okay, I’m warning appointments are starting to fall off? I wonder if they’re not as popular. Like what tease you up to do the survey monkey again, and kind of reevaluate.
Dr. Chad Johnson
There are two. Number one, the obvious answer is when you want to switch and number two is if what you have isn’t working, then naturally, you know, so yeah, if you’re sensitive to the fact that man, no one’s coming in at 4 pm and we’re open until five, but no one’s coming in at four. Okay, well, no one wants to come in for your 4 pm appointments. So time to close up the shop.
Keep in mind a little key secret of mine. As far as the work schedule, if you’re open until four, I never liked having paid my own clinical patients, my operative, you know, restorative appointments until the same hour that the hygienist got done, I move it back half an hour that we’re trying to get done.
Because as I’m, as I’m wrapping up with a composite, let’s say at 330, then the exams start being requested and so from 340 to four o’clock, I’m going to need to do three exams, how it used to go is, man, I’m just about ready to start filling I got behind and now I need to do these three exams. So I’m going to do these three exams up until four o’clock now at four o’clock, I’m going to be finishing, my composite appointment.
So at four o’clock, I would be finishing up with my composite until 415 or something and so that was annoying to have it go all the way until, you know, four o’clock plus maybe for 15, maybe for 30 of things. So I just try and wrap up at fourth at 330. If you’re getting done at four, the hygienist can work that last half hour but then what naturally happens is I’m actually getting done at four when I said I wanted to get done at four because you’re not done at four just because you say you’re done at four, you’re not done at 330.
Just because you say you’re done at 330 You have to get done at 330. So that way you can, you know, get done at four o’clock. So just an extra tidbit there. Well, that’s it for practice hours and discussing that kind of stuff. Really, it’s centered around three issues that you know, what do you want? Do you want to get done, you know, by noon, or do you want to get started at six in the morning, then figure out if your team is crazy enough to switch the hours with you?
The first time this was ever presented to me as we were working eight to five and we switched to seven to four because one of the hygienists said, man, I wish we could get you to know like finish up an hour early because the five o’clock traffic you know is a lot rougher than she’ll say you know when we got done at four o’clock, and I got to leave at four o’clock because the patient did So before, it’s amazing how my drive home was a breeze and so but five o’clock is just like where I’m getting the friction of everyone else and so you know what I said, Well, we still need to be open this many hours. So let’s move it from eight to five to seven floors.
That was such a hit. That’s what prompted me to go, shoot, I wonder if you know, 6 am might work for us. I mean, we’d be the only practice in the area. That’s another distinguishing factor is if, if you can find a way to distinguish yourself by, like, let’s say everyone else is we’re open from nine to three, and you can be open at seven people will be like, Man, I love going there. They’re open at seven and it doesn’t have to be 6 am.
I’ll tell you, I found two things. That one was yes, open till seven o’clock at night. That made me incredibly happy to hear because I can start scheduling now that I know this, I can start scheduling out after when my meetings are going to wrap up when I know my day is gonna come to completion.
So that’s really helpful and then I think the wild card is I just found out that my main health care provider is open on Saturdays. Okay, yeah and I was like, Oh, you guys are, are brave and bold and they said, Actually, just one of the doctors really likes that schedule, and it works for them and I’m like, it works for me. I mean, that made me thrilled to hear so It’s a wild card but again, getting back to what is right for the patients and what is right for you as a provider and your team.
Dr. Chad Johnson
Well, right. Like if I was open in Maui, and I wanted to serve every morning, you know, I would go surfing, you know, yeah,
let’s Yes, let’s get into that visual. I
Dr. Chad Johnson
like that a lot. Yes. So you would, you would open it,
I’m gonna go to Malley
Dr. Chad Johnson 21:35
at noon, and you’d work from noon to seven or noon to six or noon to five for whatever, you know, like, but if, if surfing was your thing, and you wanted to hit the morning surf, then do that make that you know, make that a reality but that one trouble that I have I when I first opened I set Tuesdays, I worked until like 630 or something. It was an hour and a half later. The one problem that I found that goaded me was,
people would wait
Dr. Chad Johnson
until so this is November just you know, for reference for the recording. If someone came in, I said, hey, you’ve got five cavities, we need to fill them. Oh, yeah, I’ll take that Tuesday late appointment, so I don’t miss work. Okay, well, the next one that we have available is next July. Okay and I’ll be like, you’re gonna let your cavities sit until next July. Yeah, long time.
I know but that’s, but that’s what I’ll do. So that was frustrating because people would purposefully wait that long, in spite of the fact that I’d say I recommend that you get this done. As soon as you can.
Well, that’s as soon as I can do it. So when we stopped having, how do I say when we started implementing uniformity to our schedule, then that got rid of people that now if you’re always open until 630, then great, there’s no problem but if you’re only open once a week, or once a month, on Fridays? Well, everyone’s gonna be like, I’ll just wait once a month, you know, for that Friday. Well, the next one is next July. That’s fine. What aren’t you in pain? Yeah, I’ll just deal with it. Well, you know, that’s gonna translate to Sunday, some Sunday, they’re gonna give you a call and be like, I can’t wait any longer. Can you meet me at the office? So they’re gonna make poor dental emergency decisions get into the
psychology of it, too, because you’re absolutely correct. So how I placed my own health as soon as you can get me in as the soonest I want to be in, right? So I will juggle everything else around my schedule in order to make that a reality. I would never use
Dr. Chad Johnson
patients but not everyone’s that way.
Right. So we’re,
my husband and I were just talking about that, because I had two appointments in one day, they were different, different types of appointments and so I had one in the morning, and then I had one towards the end of the day, because they just weren’t able to, you know, button it up to get to write together like that and I did not care at all I would drive I was fine with it and he was like, you’re driving over twice.
Like they couldn’t accommodate that and I’ll tell you it did not even enter my head but that’s because I can be adjustable with my unscheduled and not everybody can correct Oh, yeah.
So thinking about where I’ll take that Friday and live with it for several months, there may be multiple factors going on psychologically speaking at work, it could be work-related like I physically can’t do it, there’s no possibility it can’t get the time off or, or just a mental thing.
Dr. Chad Johnson
Yep. So it could be yourself. It could be your family, you know if you for some reason have special needs children that have morning appointments at a doctor and you’re like, Well, I can’t do more than make that work and that should be obvious.
Then you know, pull your team figured out, can you provide an incentive to make it happen, and if so, then pull your patients through Survey Monkey send it out and find out if you can get that X percent of patients interested in coming in.
So that way you can make it work even if it was 5% that wanted to do the one hour earlier but you had one hygienist, not all four of them that was interested in coming in at that time. Well, then 5% For that one hygienist might be all that it takes to fill her up at that hour earlier. Just a few thoughts and our keyword for the day is fallow, fallow field is fallow, this doesn’t
We don’t want your schedule to be fallow. Well, thank you, listeners, I hope your 2023 really gives you the schedule of your dreams and I love this sort of creative mindset on your hours and what works for you what works for the patient, and what works for your team. So, Survey Monkey, it’s free. It’s easy. You’re pulling up that poll, think about the mathematician angle of it, what statistics need to come in what percentages and you’ll be successful.
That’s right. Thanks, everybody, for hanging in there on this special episode of Everyday Practices Podcast, and we hope you have a great weekend.