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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Your Dental Practice: Failing To Plan or Planning to Fail?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

November 28, 2012

I am sure that you are busy with the normal year end tasks; preparing for Christmas, maybe busy completing treatment on patients who have insurance benefits that run out and planning for a successful year in 2013. If you are like most, that last item “planning for next year” probably needs more attention than you have given in years past.

One of the reasons most of our clients will have a successful year is because we are there to hold them accountable. We create a plan and work beside them to keep everyone on their team on track for success and the planned out goals.

Can you remember the days before you held a gps in your hand while trying to drive your car at the same time? I learned to drive by the Thomas Guide a large book I kept next to me in my car. Many times recently while my husband was driving and our gps was providing the directions we still got lost!

Your annual business plan really is a map. You may take a few detours during the year based on various factors BUT without this map, it’s guaranteed that opportunities will slip by and you’ll be more easily distracted by random things that don’t fit into the services you do best or want you need to do more of.

I am still very surprised at how many practices are “driving around with blinders on” and without mapping out their annual plan for profits each year ahead. When you fail to plan then you have surely planned to fail. This is no different than getting in your car and attempting to drive to a foreign location “hoping you will get there within the shortest time and miles driven.”

If you read Maslow’s needs pyramid, (He’s that psychologist) in his studies he discerned the fact that “people are inherently lazy” and the quest of all management (yes, whether of OURSELF or others) is to develop habits and tricks that counter that natural human tendency. This includes your annual business plan.

Here is a practical approach to counter the inherent tendency in yourself to not do something that’s important. Block at least a half day (I honestly suggest blocking one day) to plan for how you will produce and collect more in 2013. Even a small, simple plan is better than no plan at all.

 

Suggestions for your meeting action plan:

 

  1. Review your current financial performance against last year & current year targets.
  2. Analyze your successes and failures during the previous year.
  3. Make a quick S.W.O.T. analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
  4. Get 7 pieces of paper and begin brainstorming (one page for each of the following 7 areas.)  What new ideas do I have (or can I come up with, or can my team & I come up with) in the following areas?
    1. Marketing
    2. Patient Services
    3. Patient Reactivation & Retention Strategies
    4. Leadership & Organizational Management (Consulting, Courses)
    5. Cash Flow/Financial Management (Income, supply expenses. Lab fees, etc.)
    6. Front office/ Back office
    7. Hygiene Department

Once you complete these four steps you are then ready to start crafting your Annual Business Plan. The most important thing at this point is to keep it simple. Build your plan around 3 sections (1 page for each section):

  1. Marketing Calendar – Decide what you want to do each month for the next year and create a Marketing Calendar.
  2. Cash Flow Projection/Budget – Make a forecast of your income and expenses for the coming year and put it into a monthly budget.
  3. Operational Improvement – Look at each of the 7 areas that you brainstormed (above) and set 1-3 S.M.A.R.T. goals for each area. Pace yourself through the year. We typically over estimate what we can accomplish in one month and under estimate what we can accomplish in one year. If possible, assign a “Champion Leader” for each goal. If that’s not possible, find a consultant or an accountability partner who you will meet with regularly to report on your progress. Accountability & encouragement is essential for success!

So, I ask…Are you ready for 2013?