It’s Never Too Early to Plan

It’s hard to believe that we are now in Q4 of 2021. Did you have a plan for this year or did you “wing it”? If you find that you are always the one who seems surprised that you made it through another year without a plan, then think of how great your year would have been if you had a detailed blueprint to follow. 

In many offices, you will see “hallway planning” take place. The definition of “hallway planning” is when a discussion about the future of the office happens in a hallway between the owner and the office manager or a team member. Generally, this is not a good idea as decisions are made without full consideration. The best planning scenario would be for any key members (owners, office manager, any “heads” of departments) to have an extended meeting in a location where they would be no interruptions for at least half a day or a full day to discuss a plan for 2022. Depending on size some offices may even want to have this meeting at a hotel/meeting centre to ensure everyone’s attention is devoted to the plan.

The plan would be to create a crystal-clear vision of what you would like next year to look like. You will want to take into account these pillars of your practice; Clinical, Financial, Human Resources and Patient Experience. You will want to identify the gaps between your current office and what you would like to see. You will choose clear goals in each area that can be measured with accountability. The steps to each goal will be detailed in the plan. Creating this blueprint will make it easier for the year to come, by knowing the direction you are travelling in. 

  1. For Clinical you will want to decide about any new procedures your office may want to offer. You will want to look at any areas of CE that any of your team may be lacking and plan for these courses. Is there any equipment or instruments in your office that may be ready to be updated, gather a list and plan a timeline for these changes. 
  1. On the financial side you will want to look at current production, if it has remained stable then you will want to put a plan in place for an increase, stable production isn’t good enough because expenses are always increasing. What are the areas you could improve production. Would it be; increased new patients, improved treatment acceptance or less open time for both the hygienists and the dentist? You will want to look at where your expenses are compared to industry norm and are there any adjustments that need to be made to bring them into line.
  1. It seems that everyone is dreading talking about Human Resources right now. You will want to plan to update all of your documentation for the year, look at each team member and make sure they are the best person in position for their skills, talk about your plan for financial reviews for the year along with performance reviews for the year. During this section you will also want to look at your office culture and see if it is matching the vision you have for the office. You will want to talk about your engaged team members, your unmotivated team members and how you can keep the engaged team members engaged as well changing some of your unmotivated team members to become motivated. Plan ahead for social engagement with the team as well for the year.
  1. What does the patient experience look like in your office from the patient’s point of view? Take time in advance of your meeting and have your Office Manager talk to several patients (not just the “good ones”) about their experience in the office. Ask specific questions as to their telephone experience, their electronic communication experience, their clinical experience and their overall experience. What fits with your vision of the office and what needs to be changed. 

Once your meeting has been completed don’t take these plans and put them away, keep them out and once a month have a dedicated one-hour meeting with your key players to discuss your progress on these plans. Having an objective opinion and accountability when setting a plan like this is paramount to its success. A coach like me can be invaluable when setting up a plan and following through on it even for the most experienced team.

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