Sprint, Recover, Repeat! Running Your Ortho Office

Sprint & Recover: A sprinter takes off, and gets a massage after.
The track star has kept a steady, strong pace, and now, as she comes out of the last turn she unleashes the power she’s been storing for this final lap and takes off—pumping hard toward the tape. That’s where we are in the ortho office. It’s the final sprint of summer and our primary clientele are heading back to school in a matter of 2-3 weeks. This is GO TIME!


At this point, with summer almost over, your schedule should be packed with new patients. (If it’s not, I’m sorry; we can revisit marketing strategies you could’ve implemented at the beginning of summer another time.) With new patient exams filled for the next 3 weeks, averaging 10 new patient calls a day, and facing the inevitable back to school halt, what do you do to keep everyone happy AND maximize your potential production?

Just like the track star, you unleash that inner power you’ve been saving and kick things up a notch. Here’s how:

1. Limited Exams.  It takes 15 minutes or less for an assistant to take photos, a pan, a ceph, and/or a scan. While it won’t be your A-team’s approach, and therefore may lack some of the “fluff” your new patients normally get from your TC, there’s no reason your cheery clinical assistant can’t WOW them with a positive experience from “the trenches.” After that, your admin staff can present the fees and schedule their start appointments.

2. Same-Day Starts.  If you aren’t already doing this, you better be doing it now. Everyone, and I mean everyone, that comes in for an exam, can “start” today. Do not make the mistake of letting the sale cool off by scheduling their bonding a week or two later.

It takes 30 minutes to slap some upper brackets on. Glue something, take a scan, heck just take a ceph if you haven’t already! Anything to affirm for the patient that they are signing up for treatment today, handing you a credit card, and signing contracts/consents. IMPORTANT NOTE: I do not count them as a “Start” in the practice’s conversion (STARTS/EXAMS) until I can bill insurance, which is when we actually start the treatment.

3. Extras.  Think more bodies and more slots. That means you should add to your typical line-up by hiring extra staff for the clinic, open extra days in the schedule just for new patients and starts, or slightly scale back your typical clinical appointments in order to keep a chair open for the same-day starts to slip into!


After a productive Ortho “Summer Slammage“, your team will be wiped out and in need of re-enagement by their leader. When we sprint, our bodies kick into overdrive and every system is strained. It’s incredibly taxing, and it’s not sustainable. And just like the human body needs recovery time after a sprint, the ortho team does too.

Therefore, during the first week of school, I would highly recommend that you shut down the office for a couple of days! Encourage your team to take a day or more off to recuperate. Reward your team with a field trip to the salon for a little pampering, or take them out for a “family” meal. This is a great opportunity to thank them for their hard work, highlight the positive behaviors you want to encourage, and solidify a tight bond between them.

This works even better if they know the recovery is coming. Let them know, as it gets closer, that their efforts have  not gone unnoticed, and you can’t wait to show them your appreciation once we get through this sprint!


Now that we’ve forged through our busiest season, and our team has relaxed a bit, it’s time to get our game faces on again, and get back on the track. How will you generate the kind of production you just had? Marketing. Lot’s of marketing. Here are some pointers from our Straight Wire Playbook:

1. Print advertising. Send out a batch of NICE direct mailings: postcards delivered to specific neighborhoods. Execution is the key here guys. Make sure the design isn’t out-dated, cheap, or generic. The last thing you want is any resemblance to a ValPak mailer. You need something that reflects your unique practice culture AND your fees!

2. School Nurses. Every year, we send teams to deliver emergency kits to the school nurses at all nearby Elementary and Middle Schools. These kits contain nail clippers, tweezers, O-rings, instruction sheets, and LOTS of wax. We brand it up and make sure to include business cards. School nurses are totally underestimated as a referral source and this will pay off ten-fold. See, the real objective is to get your practice name all over the schools. Schools are a huge pipeline to becoming a pillar in your community.

3. PTA. An even bigger, more direct way into the schools is through the PTA or similar organization. My marketing coordinator’s #1 job in August is to find out who this year’s PTA President is and build a relationship with her. Find out what we can sponsor and help out with this year!

The dream goal is to get your logo plastered on things kids will be using regularly, like homework assignment planners; but many schools will allow you to get your name on banners, water bottles, T-shirts, and more. Do this for every school you want to target this year. PRO-TIP: Don’t waste your money on donations that don’t include a branding opportunity. Remember, name-recognition is the name of the game!

4. Facebook. Assign multiple team members that live nearby to get into the Facebook Mom groups. This is such a valuable tool. Ask them to casually mention a mom-specific or back-to-school promotion you guys are doing. At the same time, invest in Facebook Ads. The ROI on this has been wonderful for so many of our offices. Is it perfect? No, but the target ads put your practice right in front of your neighbors and your ideal demographic, cultivating some powerful brand awareness.


FINAL THOUGHT: Our businesses, just like our bodies, thrive when we run in cycles. Summer is about over, and with it the sprint. That means it’s time to give your team the time they need to recover, let them know how much of a difference they made in the success of the office, and then get ready for the next run!
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