Content Dam De Print Articles Volume 107 Issue 11 1711dedbs M01

Setting goals for your dental practice

Nov. 9, 2017
It's important for dentists to set goals for their practices. It's also important for them to monitor the progress of these goals. This helps dentists become more successful in their careers.

Derek Hein

Do you remember when you established your 2017 practice goals? Did you take the time to set goals? As you have only a few weeks left to make those goals a reality, will you achieve them? What was your plan to achieve those goals? How have you been monitoring your progress?

A study that discussed goal setting analyzed a group of Harvard MBA students over a 10-year period. The students were asked about their professional goals and monetary earning goals. Only 3% of them had any written goals accompanied by plans to accomplish those goals, while 13% had goals in mind but did not write them down or mention them to anyone, which left 84% with no goals at all. The study concluded 10 years later with the same group of students. The 13% who had goals in mind but did not write them down earned twice that of the 84% who had no goals. Most astonishing was that the 3% who had written goals were earning 10 times as much as the other 97% of the class combined.1

Without something to keep you in check, it’s easy to stray from your goals. Use the study as your motivation, and think about incorporating SMARTER strategy to set goals:

Specific—Set specific attainable goals and write them down.

Meaningful—Set goals that you will encourage you to do what it takes to achieve, (the “why”).

Achievable—Goals must be achievable given current and available resources.

Relevant—Set goals that are in line with what you want out of life (or business).

Time-bound—Set a specific timeframe during which the goals will be achieved.

Evaluate—Goals must be quantifiable to measure success and stay on track.

Readjust—Evaluate progress and readjust approach as needed.

You may be thinking, “My practice establishes goals that are all of the above, so why are we not reaching them?” I’ve found that offices with goals do a good job in four of the five SMARTER categories. The area that is commonly lacking is the measurable aspect of goal attainment, (evaluate). You might think that most practice goals are measurable at completion—you either hit your production goal or you don’t. But what about ongoing monitoring throughout the year?

In this age of data overload, offices seem to struggle with practice management software report usage. All of the leading software systems allow offices to run reports that look into different key performance indicators (KPIs). But are those reports helping you achieve your goals? I’m always perplexed when someone in an office can tell me some hyper specific detail based on a report that he or she constantly runs, but cannot tell me important metrics such as daily production, current active patient count, or case acceptance.

A regular analysis of the practice is necessary to know its overall health. From there you should be able to drill deeper into certain aspects of the practice. Maybe you will uncover something you hadn’t considered before, or identify a need for help in some areas.

Performing a practice analysis regularly allows you to do this. An analysis is a great way to see the overall health of your practice. In tandem with the analysis, you can use your practice management software or associated dashboard to look deeper. Don’t be afraid to pull in expertise to help you determine any next steps. We’ve found that offices that complete a practice analysis year after year increase their production exponentially when compared with those that don’t.


1. The Harvard MBA Business School study on goal setting. Wanderlustworker website. Accessed October 3, 2017.

Derek Hein is the business solutions manager for Henry Schein Dental. During his six years with Henry Schein, Derek has worked with hundreds of dental offices across the country to help them meet their goals. Along with the resources through Henry Schein Business Solutions, Derek strives to help dental offices focus on practice care so that his customers can focus on patient care.

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