As dentists, you spend so much time working on the patient in the chair that working on your business can slip through the cracks. Even when you do focus on improving your practice it’s difficult to know where to begin or how to proceed. After all, most — if not all — of your training was focused on the clinical side of dentistry. Although it makes sense that dental schools spend most of their time preparing you to perform your craft, it is concerning how little time is spent teaching you how to plan and run a business. Regardless of the product or service you offer, proper planning is vital to the success and growth of your company. Join me as I show you ten ways comprehensive strategic planning can help you get control of your practice, as well as some learning resources designed to teach you how to plan for the success of your practice.
If you’ve ever thought about implementing a new process to improve your practice, you’ve already flirted with strategic planning. However, many people don’t get beyond the initial idea because they don’t understand how to properly assess their practice’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Likewise, they don’t know how to implement a strategic plan to address issues in those key areas. Strategic planning is a long and difficult process. So, why do you need it? Put simply, strategic planning is your greatest tool to address your practice’s weaknesses and opportunities.
No matter what season you find yourself in with your practice, chances are you suffer from a few pain points. Whether it’s difficulty with payers or increasing the number of referrals you get each month, strategic planning is your most direct path to improving your practice. With that in mind, I’d like to show you ten ways that comprehensive strategic planning can improve your practice.
Right now, it is probably an understatement to say that your team is stressed. Uncertainty can really hurt the morale of your team. But knowing there is a well-thought-out plan can be very comforting, especially if they help build that plan. When you include your team in the planning process, they feel valued. They fully understand the “Why”. Knowing that they have a voice in the discussion goes a long way towards creating buy-in which is an absolute necessity for your strategic plan to be successful. A team that has bought in is a team that understands the vision and works purposefully to achieve the objective.
One of the first steps of comprehensive strategic planning is to conduct a SWOT analysis. When done correctly and honestly, a SWOT will reveal the greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business. Indeed, you will use all aspects of the SWOT to identify the objectives of your strategic plan. However, in this case, we are focusing on mitigating outside threats to your practice. This could be anything from the coronavirus to malpractice to “big box” dental shops. Fully understanding the threats to your practice is the first step to protecting it.
Related Reading: How to do a SWOT Analysis on Your Small Business
This may seem a little redundant since I already stated that comprehensive strategic planning can improve team morale. However, it is possible for people to be generally happy or satisfied with their job and still not really feel as though they are a part of something bigger than themselves. When your entire team is working together toward a common goal, the team becomes unified. They begin to lift each other up and hold one another accountable. They should even be holding you accountable. When you’ve reached your goals, everyone can celebrate because they all played a vital part in attaining the objectives.
As a dentist, you earn your living by helping as many patients as possible. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day and you can’t compromise quality for quantity. Strategic planning can identify any bottle-necks in your workflow and enable you to address them in a way that streamlines your daily operations. Whether you’re scheduling the patient’s next visit or performing the ever-popular root canal, maximizing efficiency is vital to both patient satisfaction and your bottom line.
Depending on the objectives you’ve set for your strategic plan, you may be able to add new business to your clientele. This can be accomplished either by focusing on your marketing strategies or encouraging word of mouth by improving patient satisfaction through greater efficiencies. As business owners work to make their businesses more attractive to buyers, they often become more attractive to consumers as well. In the end, everybody wants the highest quality service at the greatest value. Even if your pricing isn’t the lowest in the area, you may provide a greater value of service.
Strategic planning can enable you to eliminate areas of inefficiency from your practice. As you do this, it should increase revenue or decrease costs. I always tell my clients to make one of their three objectives financial in nature when strategic planning. Doing so allows you to achieve quantifiable success. The revenue gained from maximizing efficiency can then be used to improve other areas of your practice. Proper strategic planning can improve your practice’s bottom line while simultaneously working to increase its value.
Running your practice takes a lot of work. Despite our best efforts, life happens and problems arise. Even so, we don’t have to simply accept these headaches as “part of the job.” Strategic planning allows you to improve the areas that cause you the most stress. There’s never going to be absolute perfection and life will happen but you can take control of your normal everyday pain points by creating a plan to eliminate them. As a result, you’ll have fewer daily stresses and your practice can be more enjoyable.
If you’ve ever dreamed of opening a second practice — or even just one day selling your current one — you need to be able to replicate your practice model. Strategic planning can prepare your practice for the expansion or even reduction of business volumes. The idea is to have all of your systems in place so that all you need to do is add a few more able bodies to handle the increased volume.
One of the things I always want to work on with my clients is growing the value of their business (for its eventual sale). Strategic planning might be the biggest weapon in a business owner’s arsenal when it comes to growing the value of their company. When strategic planning is done correctly, it provides you and your team with clear and focused objectives. Each of these objectives is designed to improve a specific area of your practice. As you complete your objectives and improve every weakness that was identified during your SWOT analysis, you grow the value of your company organically.
Nobody wants to work forever and when the time comes to take your leave, you’ll want the process to be as simple as possible. Proper exit planning is a years-long endeavor that involves several phases of strategic planning. Each time you complete a full cycle of strategic planning, you should be one step closer to making your exit and doing so with the money you want or need to sustain your lifestyle well into retirement. In the end, you want your systems in place,
I know from experience with leading many comprehensive strategic plannings with other dental offices the process can be a daunting task. It’s one that — when done correctly — takes a few years to successfully complete. If you’re just not sure how to begin, we offer an online course in comprehensive strategic planning. The course is easy to understand and can be completed at your own pace.
But If you’re the type of person that prefers to hire a professional and would like comprehensive assistance for your strategic planning, schedule a meeting with us! Our team works with many practices like yours to build plans to will be happy to guide you and your team through the entire process!