letter from a grumpy dentist

Dear Patient that Didn’t Show Up for their 7am Hour and a Half Appointment,

I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to take a moment to fill you in on how you affected my life today.

To you I’m probably just a service provider. Like the drive through at the bank or the guy who cuts your hair. Someone you see on occasion to take care of a small part of your life. And I’m fine with that.

On top of being a service provider I’m also a business owner. Which is to say that it costs me money to keep my doors open. As soon as I have employees on the clock, my overhead is growing. I pay employees, my rent, utilities and the rest from the proceeds that I’m paid to be that service provider. I understand that dental care is more expensive than a trip to the barber. I understand that paying for the services I provide can put a person out. I take my appointments with you seriously. I set aside appointment times for you and only you. My team and I are ready and waiting at the appointed time to take care of your needs. In this particular case, that meant getting up really early in the morning. So when you didn’t show up, my overhead didn’t get paid by the procedures we had planned and my business loses money.

More importantly than my role as service provider and business owner, I’m also a human and a dad. I don’t mind getting up early and I do it quite often. But given a choice, I might sleep another hour. I might delay the time that my office opens knowing that I’m not going to be seeing patients until later. I definitely would have preferred to see my children when they woke up and put my oldest on the bus than to drink coffee in my office.

So, what’s the solution? I could be a jerk and charge you a no-show fee. But that’s guaranteed to make me look like a bad guy. Furthermore, any reasonable fee couldn’t make up for the overhead that’s been burned. I could ask you to pre-pay for your appointments, but that’s never been part of the culture of our office. That would just make you feel singled out and resentful. Kind of how I’m feeling right now. I could just always double book appointments so that in case if one patient doesn’t show up I’ve always got another one in the next room. But that makes it so I’m not giving each patient my undivided attention and that’s something I pride myself on.

The solution is to make you another appointment. Because I want you to be my patient and I want to take care of your dental health. We’ll probably give you extra reminders to make sure that you remember.

And to write this letter. Because it does make me feel better. Slightly.



A Grumpy Dentist