3 Keys to Slaying Ortho’s “Summer Slammage”

Setting Up Your Office for Success in July!


Ahh, summer. It’s Tuesday. There’s a kiddo crying in the playroom, the phones are ringing, two preteens dash by on the way to the Nintendo Switch, while the resident Wii player mashes all the buttons, frustrated it’s not working. The receptionist is laser-focused on her computer, trying to avoid the impatient stares of the Dad who can’t stomach running even a minute late. But for whatever reason, today we just can’t seem to catch back up. 

One assistant called in sick, and you accidentally approved another’s vacation day, so you’re short-handed by two. Over the beeping of the light cure and the clanking of the hemostats, you hear your Office Manager on the phone, desperately trying to find an ortho temp (not a dental one, because you’re not doing fillings!). All the while, your TC is staring holes in the back of your head, willing you stop talking to a parent and get your butt into her exam. Sounds like a case of the “Summer Slammage,” right?

If you’ve been practicing for even a year, you know that June through August is our “Go Time!” Accountants have Tax Season, pro athletes have the playoffs, and orthodontists have summer. For the majority of our clients, it’s “Summer Vacation” but for us, it’s the Summer Slammage.

This is what we train for all throughout the school year. All our marketing, relationship-building, hard work, and determination comes down to this. Hope you saved your energy! But just in case you didn’t, and you feel like your office may be slipping from controlled-chaos to full on lawlessness, let’s regroup, reframe, get our shit together (sorry mom!) by following these 3 keys: 

1. SYSTEMS – It’s time to button up your systems!

First and foremost, you’ve got to tighten up all of your systems and processes. This is NOT the time to be lenient or lackadaisical in any area. Take an hour, tonight, or first thing in the morning, and do a system audit.

All of your systems should be designed around the majority of situations, not the exceptions. Start with scheduling: Confirm that your summer template is heavily packed with starts and exams. Reduce those debond appointments as much as possible, cut back on OBS checks, and keep those retainer adjustments to a minimum. Note: I didn’t say remove them all, just reduce! And this is definitely not the season to meet with vendors and suppliers, unless it’s absolutely necessarily.

While you’re at it, make sure your Employee Manual has a clear policy on time off requests. Then enforce the policy! Only approve requests with sufficient coverage. You’ll also want to stock up on supplies, and relax on any dentist deliveries until there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

2. SALES – Keep your team sales-focused!

You won’t see a higher quantity of patients in any other quarter of the year, and it’s important that your entire team (not just your TC) keeps that in mind. This is where your office’s focus on Same-Day Starts comes becomes even more crucial. Your team should be ready and able to start every patient who comes in for an exam that’s ready for treatment. Every touch point your patient has with the office should be planting the seeds for that Same-Day Start.

The word of the day is “YES.” Yes, anyone who wants braces or Invisalign can have them. For sure, we’ll make room in the clinic for any new patient today. Of course, we’re able to make payment arrangements that fit your family’s preferences. Absolutely, we’ll get your Invisalign rushed so you can start before you leave for college. Yes! What’s the question? 

3. SERVICE – Our number one priority is customer service!

It’s a crazy, whirlwind atmosphere in the office this summer. But amidst all the craziness of this busy season, the MOST important key is to keep customer service at the forefront of everyone’s minds. 

Say it every morning during your team huddle, write it on the back of the door to the staff lounge, tattoo it on the inside or your team’s eyeballs. Whatever it takes. Service is why we’re in orthodontics. Your team’s service is what will make you stand out from the guy down the street that your new patient had a consult with last week. It’s not that you can construct a better-fitting bite or a more aesthetic smile, it’s that every interaction with your office was easy and special for them. That’s service that is memorable!

July’s here, things are crazy, but keep those 3 keys in mind: Systems, Sales, and Service. I guarantee you’ll see a positive impact in your summer production, no matter your practice size. I realize they aren’t necessarily easy, but they’re absolutely necessary for your office to survive and grow in today’s market. 

And don’t be discouraged if the third key, Service, seems like the toughest to maintain. I’ve seen the struggle to maintain team motivation all over the country, so I’ll share a little trick. Break up the stress and seriousness of needing to constantly be on your A-game with a random team surprise! Block off an hour in the morning for a staff meeting. Then surprise your team by taking them to “family breakfast”. Who doesn’t like a surprise that includes pancakes? It’s inexpensive and makes a big impact on team morale when they can all share a meal together as they start the day. Little things go a long way! 

You got this. The “Summer Slammage” is no match for you!

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