The Production Plan

  • by Roger P. Levin, DDS
  • Oct 24, 2022
10-24-22_ProductionOne of the most important factors in dental practice success, if not the most important from a business standpoint, is production. Production is not just a number, but a compilation of many actions, systems and services. And, just like any other business statistic, there are proven methods to increase it. 

A New Approach to Thinking About Production 
Every practice understands that production is important; however, if asked, most dentists couldn’t state the numerous ways that production growth is achieved. This is because few practices approach their production growth opportunities in a proactive or planned manner — a concept my company refers to as “The Production Plan.” Simply stated, The Production Plan identifies the top ways that production is currently created in a practice and adds new or innovative methods to increase it. Then, as the name implies, a plan and timeline are created to achieve the desired production growth. The following examples will help any dental practice understand how to create The Production Plan. Each practice will have a unique plan, but the general idea can be grasped using frequently observed examples. 

When designing The Production Plan, begin by identifying the categories that apply to your production goals. Categories could include new services, new technologies, upgraded business systems or operational efficiencies that increase the speed of the doctor or team. By starting with categories, the doctor and staff can evaluate which areas have the greatest opportunity for increasing production. 

The following are examples of opportunities that every dental practice should consider when creating The Production Plan. 

Reactivate All Inactive Patients 
(Categories: Upgraded Business Systems and New Technology) 

The definition of an inactive patient was different before the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, our definition of an inactive patient was any patient who had not been into the practice for an appointment within 18 months. Today, as the focus on production becomes even more important, we define inactive patients as those who have not scheduled next appointments. This means that even a no-show who has not yet been reappointed is now considered an inactive patient. 

Inactive patients often make up 15%–20% of a practice patient base. By scheduling these patients, production will increase as the patients flow through the practice, different diagnoses are made, and treatments are completed. By working the reactivation system every day as a standard protocol and efficiently utilizing patient communication technology, the practice can reduce the number of inactive patients significantly within 90 days and keep its inactive patient percentage low. 

Complete Incomplete Treatment 
(Category: Upgraded Business Systems) 

If audited, almost every practice would identify a significant number of treatment options (production) that have been presented to patients but either not accepted or not completed. Many patients don’t get around to scheduling the recommended treatment or completing it once they start. These patients offer a significant opportunity to increase practice production. In some cases, they have remaining insurance benefits that can be mentioned in scripted phone calls to motivate the patient to complete treatment before the benefits expire. In other cases, a patient will not continue treatment until their benefits renew, which creates an opportunity for another phone call to motivate and educate the patient to complete treatment under their renewed benefits. 

Add and Properly Promote a New Service 
(Category: New Services) 

Many practices are highly motivated to improve clinical skills and add new services. That’s wonderful and represents a significant opportunity for improved patient satisfaction and higher practice production. To take full advantage of the production potential of adding a new service, a marketing communications plan must be developed and implemented. As an example, a dentist who adds implant services has a unique opportunity to increase practice production. But those production increases will only be realized if the practice creates a plan to evaluate patients for the new service and communicates its availability and benefits. The launch of a new dental service is an opportunity to add to practice production. Promoting a new product is a standard process in the business world. 

Reduce No-Shows 
(Category: Upgraded Business Systems) 

Every dental practice is aware that noshows have a negative effect on the practice and that reducing no-shows will increase production. However, few practices measure the no-show rate, the amount of chair time that has been lost and whether some percentage of no-show patients return to the practice at all. No-shows have an extremely negative effect on practice production. Every minute of unfilled chair time is a minute that will never be recovered, representing a loss in production. Many practices have a 4%–6% no-show rate. That number should be less than 1%. A practice needs to implement a no-show response system using scripting to help patients understand that it is important to keep appointments. 

Certainly, there are many other ways to increase production that can be added to the above examples. However, remember that it is important to focus on the biggest gains first and then work your way through the different categories. A practice with strong production is almost always healthy and has numerous opportunities. Keep in mind that dental practices should set a goal of increasing practice production every year, which will offset increases in inflation and overhead while increasing practice profitability and doctor income. 

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group, a dental management consulting firm. To comment on this article, email