dental team strategic planning for the future

What is your future? That’s up to you and your dental team.

With all that has occurred over the past few months, many of us are left wondering what the future holds.  One way to add a degree of certainty during uncertain times is to engage your brain, and your team members in a strategic planning process.  There may be more questions now than previously, but by definition the future is uncertain, and yet we must create plans if we want to accomplish our goals.

Not long ago I oversaw a strategic planning meeting for a large dental practice. Levin Group conducted this all-day meeting, which resulted in the identification of 11 key strategies that the practice would like to achieve within the next three years. It took an entire day to work through identifying the practice’s core values, mission, vision, and ultra-specific strategies to support all their efforts.

Strategic planning days are some of my most enjoyable workdays.

Watching a group of dentists and office managers identify what they want to accomplish for their future is exciting and invigorating. Strategic planning isn’t a group of people sitting in a conference room picking ideas out of the air. These meetings create the opportunity for people, often for the first time, to look ahead, make plans, and believe that they are achievable.

  1. Strategic planning is a thorough process that starts by identifying a practice’s core values.  These are the underlying principles of the practice that will never be violated and allow the practice to make great decisions.
  2. We then perform a SWOT analysis where every pertinent practice issue is identified by the team, written down, categorized by strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and then put into priority order. The top three from each category (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) become the driving force behind the ultimate strategies that are selected.
  3. Lastly, we create a series of statements on where the practice will be in 5 years.

Select realistic strategies

With all of that “pre-work” complete, we have an excellent picture of where we stand and where we want to go, and it’s time to start selecting specific strategies to get there. The good news is that the strategies become amazingly obvious based on the work the group is already done.
One quick word of caution:  At this stage in the exercise practices often become excited and there is a tendency to try to cram strategy deadline into the next 12 months, but this will not work. It’s unrealistic and simply can’t get done. Instead, we recommend that you stage the strategies out over the next five years, establish deadlines, and then assign responsible parties.

Keep the momentum going

We conclude these strategic planning sessions by reinforcing that the practice must have a strategic plan update meeting each month to maintain accountability and keep the momentum going. The worst thing to do is to go through this whole process, stick the strategic plan on a shelf, and never look at it again. You want it to be living plan and therefore will need to update it every month to determine if you’re on track and decide if changes must be made.

About the blogger

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.

To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com

3 Steps to Increase Your Production—Now!

Increasing production is much easier than most dentists think. The reason it doesn’t happen continually is that most dentist don’t stay focused on it. When you’re happy with your income, lifestyle, and savings you may not put a whole lot of time into improving practice production performance. People who are comfortable in this way tend to, as they say, “take their foot off the gas.” But you shouldn’t.

Increasing production is the mainstay of any business and it requires constant attention. If production doesn’t go up, profit won’t go up either. Dentistry has more competitive factors than ever before, so every practice must be focused on growing its production by either small amounts or to hit larger goals. Growth is always a best defense against a decline.

Here are three powerful steps you should consider if you want to increase production quickly:

  1. Diagnose periodontal disease.  Practices that are not diagnosing periodontal disease lose tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in initial therapy services. Adding the diagnosis and treatment of basic periodontal services for patients is like adding a brand or service to the practice.
  • Schedule all patients. Many practices have only 80 – 85% of their patients scheduled. Think about how much production is lost through the 15-20% of unscheduled patients every year. That’s why you should set the goal of scheduling 98% of patients at all times. In fact, 93% of them should be scheduled before they walk out of the office. The other 7% can be scheduled using a nine-week follow up system powered by effective scripting. Keeping patients scheduled in this way is the smartest way to keep patients bonded and loyal to the practice.
  • Give hygienists more control. Hygienist should be trained to identify all potential treatment, educate patients about treatment, and motivate the patient to have treatment.   They should also be encouraged to go over fees and close the case.  Don’t panic—the doctor should still be the final decision-maker to review all findings. However, because the hygienist has much more time to talk to patients and explain findings and recommendations, they have more opportunities to close cases than the dentist, who is rushed and typically spends less than five minutes on hygiene checks. Keep in mind that that hygienist should make the effort to follow up on all unaccepted treatment. Many practices have a “one-and-done” type of mentality. If the patient doesn’t accept treatment that’s it—nothing can be done, and nobody ever mentions it again. However, when you do check in with patients again, they’re often still interested.

By implementing the tactics above almost any practice can grow production—by a lot. It’s only a matter of having the desire, the strategies, and putting them in place.

About the blogger

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.

To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com.