"Punctuality is the soul of business."
Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Canadian author
I've been meaning to write about this for some time, and was reminded of it by Chris Barrow's newsletter this week, in which he told us the tale of a disgruntled American patient who told the world, via Facebook, just how bad his dentist was at keeping time. So bad, in fact, that he walked out after well over an hour of waiting (much of that with a numb mouth).
This can become a real issue for practices with dentists who are habitually less-than-punctual when it comes to seeing their patients. We have seen instances where patient feedback for the practice as a whole has been fantastic - but because the dentist has been tardy on a regular basis, the patient has got fed up and found a practice that will see them on time.
We appreciate that diaries don't always run to schedule - treatments can take longer than expected, patients themselves can be late, or there may be an emergency case to be slotted in somewhere.
Patients can appreciate this too - but only if they are told about it. And there's the rub - if you don't communicate with them, they will be unhappy. If you do, they'll more than likely understand, and be happy to wait or rearrange their appointment.
So, if you are running late, whatever the reason, let your patients know. If they are already in the reception area, apologise, offer them a drink, and offer to re-arrange the appointment if necessary. If you are really behind, you may want to consider calling your next patients in advance to warn them - at least then they can make good use of the time rather than twiddling their thumbs.
But most of all, try not to be late. The odd occassion is forgiveable, but habitual tardiness is annoying and can ultimately cost you your patients.