Practice Management |5 min read

Cruising Through the Work Week: The Trip That Changed Our Business Model Forever

Post thumbnail with a photo of Daniel Schriftman

I have been the business manager of The Philadelphia DentistThis link opens a new tab to The Philadelphia Dentist website since 2004. The practice is 100% fee-for-service. We treat new patients and emergencies. We take the full fee for a patient’s treatment plan at the time of plan acceptance by method of cash, credit, or payment plan and open at 7 am, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.

However, it was not always this way. The schedule has changed over the course of the last 20 years. We ultimately reached the conclusion that our best option was to have a doctor in the office 365 days a year to provide routine and emergency care in the Philadelphia area.

Here’s what guided us in evolving our schedule:

Our dental office was focused on recall patients. We attracted 10-20 new patients per month through yellow pages advertising and word of mouth. Our staff included one doctor, one hygienist, and seven assistants. Often, we would have days with hours of unfilled appointments. On Friday and Saturday, we would rarely fill appointment times or take phone calls past 12 PM. We were open Monday through Thursday 9 AM – 8 PM, Friday and Saturday 9 AM – 5PM and closed on Sundays and holidays.

The economy began experiencing a significant downturn. Fewer people were coming in for recall appointments than ever before. We began receiving more phone calls from emergency patients who wanted to take care of their immediate needs. Our staff was down to one doctor and three assistants. We started doing online advertising and expanded our patient financing options. Now, the practice was seeing 30-40 new patients per month. We were open Monday through Thursday 8 AM – 8 PM, Friday and Saturday 8 AM – 1 PM, and closed on Sundays and holidays.

Our staff was now one doctor and four assistants. Everyone working for the practice (including myself) has always received dentist front desk training and dental assistant training. The doctor and I would always arrive at the office before 7 AM and would often see emergency patients prior to the rest of the staff starting their workday at 7.

Working six days a week for many years was certainly exhausting and I took some much-needed time off and to go on a cruise with my wife. We took the two-hour drive from our Philadelphia home to the Baltimore cruise port and boarded the ship for a seven-day vacation.

What I have not yet mentioned is The Philadelphia DentistThis link opens a new tab to The Philadelphia Dentist website is a family run dental practice. I serve as the dental office manager and my father is the dentist. So, as dads do, he drove me to and from the cruise port to see us off and to pick us up. Well, as he was sitting at the Port of Baltimore, waiting for us to go through customs, he checked the messages at the office. It was a Sunday around 8 AM and an existing patient called with terrible pain. My dad told the patient to come in at noon because he knew that after a week off, I would not turn him down if he asked me to go into the office for a couple of hours. He was certainly right, and it turned out to be the single biggest moment in our business’ history. To say it was
transformative is an understatement.

While in the office that fateful Sunday, we saw that patient and another. Our goal had been to help a patient in pain and the result was starting four root canals and crowns between those two patients. The idea caught both of us together instantly. If we were to be open on Sundays and holidays, we would be the only game in town.

My father wondered who would work Sundays and holidays and saw our biggest obstacle. Coming from a retail and restaurant background, I told him that plenty of people would be willing to work those days and if our current staff was not willing, then we would hire staff members who would be. None of our staff balked at their new schedules. We were off and running.

The Philadelphia Dentist expanded our advertising budget, and we were off to the races. The office was seeing 50+ new patients per month. We continue to grow each year. We were open Monday through Thursday 7 AM – 7 PM, Friday and Saturday 7 AM – 1 PM, Sunday 7 AM – 1 PM, and open holidays.

Because of the growth we experienced from the expansion of our schedule, it became necessary to hire additional help. In 2019, we hired an additional doctor and added two additional assistants. Currently, we see approximately 100 new patients each month, attracting them mostly through different forms of online advertising. On a normal Sunday or holiday, we will generally see 6-10 new patients. Our motto is “Philadelphia’s most convenient dentist. Open at 7 AM, 7 days a week.” Now we’re open Monday through Thursday 7 AM – 7 PM, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 7 AM – 2 PM, and open all holidays.

We are planning to expand soon. It has been 20 years in the making but we continue to see the benefits as we CRUISE to more growth and success. Sometimes you just need to keep your eyes open and let the open seas guide you to the next destination.

Subscribe to AADOM today!

About the Author

Headshot of Daniel Schriftman

Daniel Schriftman, MAADOM, is a business manager and coach. He has an MBA with a focus on Human Resources. Daniel coaches dental practices to run their fee-for-service business models more efficiently. He is the innovator of The Philadelphia Dentist, P.C., an emergency dental practice serving the Philadelphia community 365 days a year. He is also a founder of Unicorn Professional Coaching, LLC, a burgeoning organization seeking to improve all aspects of the dental employer, employee, and patient experience.

Image of a woman holding a paper with AADOM logo

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *