When I was in practice, there were eight things I did towards the end of one year or early in the next that always put me in a position to succeed.
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The Holiday “Sag”
It’s typical around the end of the year for patients and staff to become distracted with holiday activities. When faced with action or decisions, you might also find people are starting to get into a “let’s wait until next year” mode.
And while I’m all for holidays and a welcome “breather” from the daily work routine, as an owner and manager of a business you can’t afford to go into agreement with slowing things down or, “waiting until next year.” It can be costly for your production and, even worse, can kick the New Year off to a slow start while everyone is getting “back into the groove.”
For that matter, when I was in practice, I never took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. This was my own personal preference. From a business standpoint, it was an enormously productive week. My staff would complain (briefly), but the bonus check at the end of the month more or less made them forget about any inconveniences that working during this period may have presented.
Don’t go into agreement with slowing down during the holidays.
I would sometimes create special holiday bonus games – after all, everyone could use a little extra spending money during this time of year. Keep it a game to hit new highs or work fewer days to make above average production targets; but no matter what, don’t agree to slow down as the year draws to a close.
During the month of December, my Office Manager and I would begin evaluating practice performance for the year we’d just worked. If you’d like to do this, I suggest getting some graph paper or using a spreadsheet program to graph monthly Production, Collections and New Patients (onto three separate graphs) for 2014.
Look at the overall direction the graphs are trending. Are they rising, flat, declining? This will give you a general idea of what is happening to your practice statistically.
With management, it’s very dangerous to go off of “gut feeling” as to how things are going. This is why statistic management is a key component of the MGE Power Program. You have to look at the numbers on a graph to see what is actually happening over a period of time. I did this monthly and it would help me determine the long-term health of the practice along with providing the information I needed to begin formulating goals and a strategy for the following year.
Sometime in early January, I would have a four-hour staff meeting. This was not done on a day off. We would schedule it during work hours at a location away from the office. Prior to the meeting, my Office Manager and I would prepare our expansion plans and post the office’s statistical graphs on the wall of where we held the meeting.
During the meeting itself, we would lay out the programs we wanted to implement in the first quarter on a large dry-erase board. We would also formulate a game that would motivate everyone if our annual quota was met, i.e. a trip to Vegas, extra bonus, shopping spree to the mall etc.
If you want to make 2015 your best year ever, the earlier you start planning, the better chance you have to succeed. I’ve put what I did every year into an easy-to-follow checklist below. Adjust it to match your own goals and personality as needed.
DENTIST / PRACTICE OWNER NEW YEAR’S CHECKLIST
- Evaluate the trends of key statistics for the prior year. Make Production, Collections and New Patient graphs.
- Look over the graphs and take a look at the overall trend. Is it up, down or flat for each graph? If you need a second opinion I would be happy to look over these with you. Simply call 800-640-1140 or email me at email@example.com and we’ll schedule a time to do that.
- If the trend is up in an area, isolate what you’re doing that is working and keep doing it. If the trend is down, then something needs to change. The key is to not make drastic changes in an area that is growing. If the area is flat or contracting, something needs to be done to get it expanding. Again, if you need help, I would be happy to give my opinion.
- Schedule several hours early in the year to have an extensive staff meeting away from the office during production time.
- Prepare your presentation to the staff for this meeting for the New Year. Be sure it is clear to you what your overall objective is for the year and how each area of the practice will contribute to this overall game.
- Have the meeting and prepare for your practice to kick off in high gear for 2015!
- If you haven’t done so already (some doctors do this in the middle of the year), evaluate your fees to ensure you’re keeping up with inflation. Raise specific ones as needed.
- Finally, evaluate your overhead. Based upon your expansion plans are there any major expenses coming up (i.e. new operatory, etc.). Make sure you’ve planned for these.
If you have any trouble doing any of the above, give me a call. I enjoy doing this kind of thing and would be happy to help.
This may sound like a lot of work; but if you’re counting on Wall Street to make 2015 a great year, I think you’ll be disappointed! At MGE we teach doctors how to get their practice under control and expand every year – no matter what is happening in the world or the economy. Call me today and I would be happy to help.