November 21, 2014Practice Management
Your Best Year in Dentistry
Here is a personal update from myself as well as a guide on setting your goals for 2015.
You may be asking why I’m sending out a guide for 2015 when it’s only November. And that’s a fair question.
Simply put, November is the best time of year to set goals. Why? Because if you set your goals in January, it’ll be at the earliest late February before you can get started on those goals.
If you set your goals in December, January will stink with you trying to get systems in place.
If you set your goals in November, you can use the holiday time to help get these goals rolling.
My Personal Update
2014 has been a whirlwind year for me.
I left one business and started another. I started this website. My daughter turned 1. My German Shepard, (and best friend for the past 9 years) Chip passed away.
I met with lots of dentists and helped more dentists this year than I ever thought possible. I’ve built up a list of hundreds of dentists that listen to my ramblings about the World Cup and how to track your dental practice’s performance.
Throughout all of this I learned so much about the business of dentistry, as well as about myself.
I’m constantly learning and I’ll never know everything about everything. I don’t want to. Ok, that’s a lie. I’m an information addict. But I limit myself because I feel like that is a disservice to myself and my clients.
If I spent all my time learning about, say, dental coding, I wouldn’t be as effective in other areas of my coaching.
I specialize in tracking performance, setting goals, spotting weaknesses in practices, and an emphasis on the financial side of things.
If it’s a specific area that I do know a lot about, I’ll help fix the problem myself if I spot weaknesses.
For example, I’m currently working on a guide on how to set your fee schedules. (be on the look out for that one, it’s a doozy)
But it doesn’t cover negotiating fees or dental coding because I don’t know enough about those areas to teach it effectively. But you can bet there will be referrals to experts that can help you if that is what you are needing.
I try to give back as much actionable information as possible on the site. That’s the number one reason I don’t post three times a week. I want to be sure what I send out will have at least some actionable content within it. (And that takes time to both write and develop)
I hate blogs that only talk about hypotheticals or how to make yourself feel better about your day. You can’t take action from those. If you do get a good feeling from reading the information, it’ll only last for a few hours, maybe a couple days at most.
Now, don’t get me wrong, personal development is very important. I even have a business coach that helps me stay focused on what is important to me and my business. But personal development is useless without accountability.
On to the actionable content:
How to Set Your Dental Practice’s Goals for 2015
So how are you going to make yourself accountable for 2015 and make it your best year in business, ever?
WARNING: As always, I’m very open in these guides. I regularly get emails from people that disagree with me, and that’s ok. These steps can be personal and revealing and a lot of people don’t like doing this kind of stuff, but it’s important to cover. It’d be a disservice to my readers if I didn’t cover it.
Here’s the outline:
- Define your success
- Identify how you spend your time
- Complete your year in review.
Defining your Success:
Is it more time with your family? Is it a higher net profit? Is it to lower your overhead? More deer hunting? All of these could be your definition of success.
Is there a secret way to reach this success? Yes.
Successful people know where to focus their time and energy.
If you are an owner of a dental practice, you are the boss. You set the deadlines. You set the to-do items. You set your course.
Identifying How You Spend Your Time:
So how do you know what to focus on?
Work on the most profitable areas in your practice.
To do this, you’ll need to write down everything that you are doing. I’m borrowing this from one of my business coaches, but the format is the “You” Pyramid.
(You’ve probably heard me say it before, but physically write these things down, it really helps)
To prove how much I believe in writing this stuff down, I’m going to add a link to share my pyramid.
The base level of the pyramid: Logistics
Logistics are anything in your practice that you are spending your time and energy on that have nothing to do with your profit.
Examples may be things like fixing bugs on your computer, scheduling lunches, invoicing, doing your bookkeeping, designing your business cards, etc.
All of these items suck up your time like a vampire. They are important, but they don’t make you any money. No revenue is attached to scheduling a lunch.
If you spent 90% of your time on the base level work and you aren’t happy with where you are in your business, this is a pretty telling step.
The second level of the pyramid: Clients/Patient Management
Patient management may be anything like damage control, phone calls from patients, emails, dealing with vendors, etc.
Again, we aren’t saying this isn’t important, but a bulk of this level can still be delegated and handled by a properly trained staff. (keyword, properly)
The third level of the pyramid: Your Service
This is you actually performing your services for your patients. The distinction in this area is what can you offer versus your staff.
The fourth level of the pyramid: Systems
Any systems setup in your practice. Systems for answering the phone, billing, hiring, firing, purchasing supplies, employee evaluations, marketing, patient experience, etc.
It sounds boring but this is one of the two most important areas in your practice.
The top level of the pyramid: Patient Acquisition and Retention
This is the crux of any practice. I polled hundreds of practice owners and readers here, and as of right now 56% of you replied that this is the biggest area where you are lost in your practice. (With the majority feeling that they were missing out on over $50,000 a year in revenue)
If you are one of the many that have this issue, look at your pyramid. How much time are you spending in each level? What if you could shake that pyramid up and move more time, energy, and effort to the top of that pyramid? (Or at least shift from the bottom of the pyramid to the top)
Look, I understand that a lot of dentists didn’t get into business to be marketers.
But there is an old saying in business. Once you are a business owner, you are no longer a “doer” of what you “do”. You are a “seller” of what you “do”.
That is the reason it is at the top of the pyramid.
So, I alluded to it earlier, but you now need to look at the pyramid and make an estimate of the amount of time you are spending in each level.
Now that you’ve gotten deep and personal. It’s time to setup a game plan.
We have what your success is. We also know where you are spending your time.
Now it’s time to determine what actions you need to take to get to your success. These steps change for everyone, but here is a general overview. You may have to be a bit creative for yourself.
Completing Your Year in Review
Step #1 (Separate from the pyramid) – Complete 2014
So try and list out everything you did in 2014. It’s easier to do this chronologically. It could be about business, personal life, etc.
Step #2 – What parts of 2014 did you not like?
Write out what all you did that you didn’t like.
Maybe you didn’t get to spend as much time with your family. Maybe you had a failed marketing promotion. Ask yourself, what else? Is there anything else you didn’t like?
Step #3 – How would you rate your 2014?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your 2014? You aren’t allowed to use a 7. Be decisive!
Step #4 – Review everything
Take a look over everything you’ve written down.
Now, if you wrote it down on a piece of paper. Rip it up (not the pyramid). If you cheated and used a computer. Delete it. Leave a blank page.
You need to symbolically create a clean slate.
No matter if it was a good year or a bad year, your next year is a new beginning. You are not constrained by your past.
- Define next year’s success.
- Organize your pyramid and how you need to focus in 2015.
- Complete your “year in review”
This should put your year into perspective and allow you to see what your obtainable goals are for 2015. Use these exercises to set your future path for your best year in dentistry.
If you have financial goals, really look at what is obtainable in your practice. Set your financial goal for the end of next year and back your way into it.
For example, let’s say you are netting $250,000 off of $1,000,000 a year in revenue. You are wanting to net $350,000 next year.
How are you going to obtain that goal? What led you to that number?
It could be a higher gross revenue number. It could be a more lean or efficient practice.
Look at your priorities and time commitments to determine how you are going to tackle that goal. (Obligatory plug here: this is what I specifically help my practice owners do so if you need help with this, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation)
Look at your practice’s performance and where you can improve. Then set a course of action.
You have to create a focused list of how you can accomplish your goals. Let your team understand what your game plan is so that they can buy in to it and know that it is a real priority for your practice.
Lastly, this is where accountability comes in. Having someone around to crack the whip helps you stay on your focused path.
If you have a spouse, office manager, business coach, garbage man, whomever. Let them know your plan, let them know if you are following through. Be vulnerable.
Some people don’t need the help with accountability, others do. Don’t feel bad if you need help being held accountable.
I just told hundreds of people what I’m doing.
You can tell a few other people. It’s important.
It’s going to help you get to next November. (Where you can hopefully rate the year a perfect 10/10!)
If you are feeling gutsy, leave your goal in the comments below or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear it.