The Cold Start: Scheduling 101 - E7
In this week's Cold Start, I am going to give you some tips for scheduling when you are growing your practice. To be honest, I had to learn these the hard way and look back wondering what the heck I was thinking!
First, you need to have evening appointments. Prime time is after school until 6 or 7pm. If you can get an 8pm in there, more power to you, just know this will affect the type of staff that will want to work at your office. Some people may suggest that early morning appointments are a must, but I have found those get patients in for exams, but not to buy glasses. They always have to rush off to work or school, so these appointments have a place, but I think evenings have more benefit initially.
Next, this may sound counter-intuitive, but less availability is better at first. This will help you maximize a smaller staff, group patients together so you are efficient with your time, and it will allow you to work somewhere else initially to help your cash flow. Make sure to be available on Mondays (all day) and consider Saturdays. Coming out of the weekend, people have time to think and prioritize what they want to do. Even in my earliest days the phones would ring the most coming out of the weekend. In regards to Saturdays, they set you apart and allow for people to not miss work/school and get an exam. I would just make sure to not stay open too late on a Saturday, as people lose track of time/find something better to do.
Lastly, when you first open, you may see 1-3 people on a given day, the phone may ring once or not at all, so your staff will do very little in regards to workups, adjusting, or optical. They will, however; answer a ton of questions. This may be in person conversations inside or outside the office or on the phone. Make sure you train them on FAQs and phone etiquette. You only get one chance as the new doc on the street, so make sure you put your best foot forward and train them to answer the way you want.
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