Is business slow at your dental office? Don’t despair. Instead, take advantage of the downtime to improve your practice. Here are 9 things dental office managers can do in their downtime that will pay off in new patients, a more efficient office and a better image.

1. Reach out to new patients. Patients who have visited your office once are prime candidates for becoming loyal patients. Nearly one-fourth of dental patients don’t have a dentist they see regularly. After you first see a new patient, follow up with them to keep them coming back.

2. Reach out to existing patients. Don’t ignore your loyal patients, either. Be sure to send automated reminders of upcoming appointments. If you’ve suggested treatment that patients haven’t yet agreed to, contact them to discuss it further and educate them about the importance of taking care of the problem. One study of habits of the top 10% of dental practices found practices that make a concerted effort to bring patients in every 6 months have greater patient retention.

3. Be proactive about payments. When business is slow, it’s more important than ever to collect on outstanding payments. Use this time to follow up with patients who haven’t paid their bills and contact insurance companies to move payments forward. This will help you avoid any negative effects on your cash flow from the slowdown.

4. Update your marketing. Does your website need a redesign? Is the information on your site or your local search listings, such as Google or Yelp, outdated? Take the time to update the information. (Read about easy website tweaks you can make to get more patients.) If you haven’t gotten any new online reviews in a while, reach out to your regular patients to encourage them to review your business. Lighthouse 360 has a feature that makes it easy to get more reviews; our customers report a 48% increase in patient reviews on average from using the software. Designate one employee to handle your marketing: dental practices which have a dedicated marketing coordinator have been shown to have higher revenues than those that don’t.

5. Start an email newsletter. If you don’t already have one, start an email newsletter for your patience. Determine how often you’ll send out your newsletter and what type of information to include. (Here are 10 newsletter content ideas to get you started.) Share a mix of news about your practice, educational information for patients, and special offers such as discounts on teeth whitening or other. Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to send your newsletter to targeted patient lists.

6. Streamline your productivity. Measure your production time to help you better schedule appointments so you can maximize production and income. You may be scheduling appointments that are too short, leaving patients stuck in the waiting room. If you’re leaving too much time for appointments, on the other hand, you’re missing out on productive time that could be spent with other patients.

7. Improve your operations. Brainstorm with your team about ways to do things better. For example, you can enhance productivity by switching to a paperless office. Lighthouse 360’s Patient FastTrack feature lets your patients fill out new patient registration forms right on their phones, saving everyone time and effort. Learn more about the benefits of paperless patient registration.

8. Inventory your equipment. Do you need to replace or upgrade dental tools or office equipment? Take inventory of what you have and what you could add or replace to help your team work more efficiently. Inventory and place orders for consumables such as mouthwash, masks and cotton.

9. Review your contracts. Slow times are good times to review your contracts with vendors to make sure you are getting the best value. For example, Lighthouse 360 offers customers free annual reviews to make sure they’re getting the most from the software. You may also want to bring potential vendors into the office to do demos of products you’re considering.

Lighthouse 360 offers free demos so you can see how our patient communication software can help your practice grow. Why not take a no-obligation demo today?