Zone your diary to smash your glass ceiling


You know the feeling; you arrive in good time at your practice, join the morning huddle like a well behaved dentist, look at today’s patient list and your heart sinks. The patients are nice enough, mostly, but what they’ve been booked in for makes for another low grossing day. You’re staring at a day of check-ups, small fillings, denture eases, crown re-cements, kids’ dentistry, reviews and emergencies. You know you’ll be lucky to gross £600, and you also know that with all the hellos and goodbyes and “how is your son getting on at University” pleasantries you will be exhausted and bored to death by 5pm.

This is what happens when your receptionists simply throw appointments at your diary and book patients in randomly. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get a couple of days a week like this – there goes another opportunity to make some reasonable money.

The good news is that it’s really not very hard to do things differently. How would you feel to look at your day list and instead of being in the thick of thin things you see: three hours of above-hourly rate treatment (high value, multiple unit, or extrinsic restoration-based dentistry), together with two hours of check-ups, one hour of hourly rate (single unit) dentistry, a new patient, half an hour of faffing about and half an hour for emergencies. This kind of day is worth £1,200-£1,600 gross or more. And the pay off is not just the level of gross fees but also how you feel at 5pm, because you’ll feel tired, satisfied, well rewarded and definitely not bored.

Now, I know what your gremlins are saying. If I zone my diary for all these different types of appointments, the patients will kick off and refuse to come in when we want them to and the receptionists will kick off and say it’s too difficult to enforce. Well, yes, possibly, but the reward is worth fighting for. Plenty of organisations run this kind of system, including airlines and concert venues …and my hairdresser. I get very little choice of when I can visit my hairdresser (she’s got a business coach too!).

So yes, one way to implement this is to allocate a zoned time for each type of appointment and these zones would be: high value treatment, hourly rate treatment, check-ups, new patients, faffing and emergencies.

However, there are other (simpler) ways to achieve the same result: you can create a desired ratio of appointments, eg at least three hours of high value treatment, no more than nine check-ups a day and put the rest of the patients where you like. An even simpler way of implementing is to book high value treatments in the morning and low value treatments in the afternoons.

Of course, there is one very obvious problem with all this. If you’re the sort of dentist who can’t find high value treatment or doesn’t know how to do high value treatment, or fails to offer high value treatment or fails to get a yes to high value treatment, then these tried and tested systems will mean you are going to spend a lot of time drinking coffee. Don’t worry though, if you need turning into a high grossing dentist, we can help with that too – get me at and 07990 568909.

Best wishes





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One Response to Zone your diary to smash your glass ceiling

  1. michael bolsin says:

    Hi Ernie,
    The article in the Breathe Business email was good and it would be interesting to know what would be needed to have you attend the practice for a day and help improve the practice administration systems.
    How much advance warning would you need and what would be the cost of each day.

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