Beat your competition – why not open 7 days a week?

David Cameron’s pledge to increase GP opening hours to include evenings and weekends demonstrates the important concept of “keeping the patient (i.e. the customer) happy”. After all, you as dentists and medical consultants are also service providers so why should your business be different to say that of retail? Have you considered opening your dental or medical practice at weekends or for longer, more flexible hours each day as part of a business growth strategy?

It’s not for everyone

First of all, this idea isn’t for everyone. You may be thinking now that cancelling your regular Saturday afternoon squash match or dragging yourself away from the Sunday paper to spend a few hours treating patients is that very last thing you had in mind for your business. Before you write the idea off completely though, consider the substantial benefits and understand that there are many practice owners who are reaping the rewards from changing their practice operations to fit customer needs.

It’s for the entrepreneurial

Those practice owners however who are focused on business growth will see complete sense in extending their usual 9-5 opening hours to cater for their patients. Other service providers are doing just the same; hairdressers, electricians and retail are just a few examples where there is also now a focus on the service being available when the customer wants it rather than when the provider wants to provide it. Here are 3 key benefits to opening a 7-day week practice:

Increased productivity potential

Whilst obvious, it is a clear fact that you will have up to 30% more slots available for patient appointments by opening 2 extra days. Some practice owners who have opted for 7-day week opening hours don’t just go straight to opening from 8am-8pm Monday to Sunday. Some decide that on Wednesday the practice opens from 11am-8pm and on Saturday and Sunday it closes at 4pm. Some start with a 6-day week to test their patient’s response. The main point it about giving the customer options which therefore gives your business opportunity to expand.

Differentiation from your competitors

Opening a 7 day week combined with later opening times can give you a significant market advantage over your competitors. It isn’t something that many dental and medical practices are doing as yet so this gives you a real edge to get ahead of the game. Ensure you make a big deal out of it too by telling your patients, placing leaflets and posters or signs in and around the practice to communicate your new “customer focused” opening hours.

Fewer cancellations

These days people in general have much less time in their own working day to fit in things like a visit to the dentist or GP (hence, why the government are aiming to provide for this change). Patients find these tasks low priority and sometimes slip off the radar all together, despite their importance. Those patients who do make appointments within their own tight schedule are more likely to cancel at the last minute when something else comes up so by widening available appointment slots extends the likelihood that the patient will a) turn up at all, and b) turn up on time. Other benefits of a 7-day working practice, include:
  • Increased patient loyalty
  • More patient referrals
  • Increased practice value
If you are a forward thinking doctor or dentist who is keen to see growth in your business before your competitors do, then this whole concept is something to consider. As mentioned, it is about options. Give your patients options and they will love you for it. They wil remain a patient for longer, talk about you to friends and family and ultimately grow your business for you. To discuss business growth with a specialist firm of accountants, please contact Figurit. Call us on: 020 7376 9333 

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