Strategic positioning

A remarkable analysis technique is gaining momentum within the business community. This technique is used during strategic planning sessions to help them understand the strategic position of the company.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA

A remarkable analysis technique is gaining momentum within the business community. This technique is used during strategic planning sessions to help them understand the strategic position of the company. This technique is called the S.W.O.T. analysis and refers to:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

The goal of S.W.O.T. analysis is to help practitioners understand the strategic positioning of their practices with patients and in the community. To facilitate this process, we suggest following the steps below:

  1. Strengths. Meet with your team and develop a list the practices strengths. Talk about how these strengths impact the following key areas: Patients, referrals, case acceptance, increased practice revenue, long-term practice growth, and practice reputation.
  2. Weaknesses. This is more difficult; many times, team members avoid being frank out of concern for the doctor's feelings. Keep in mind that many team members have a very strong desire to please their doctors. They often expect them to have all the answers.As I often mention to doctors, being the chief executive and "answer guru" can be very lonely, especially when uncertainty rears its ugly head. Encourage your team to speak up. Ask each of them to carry a notepad for 30 days and list every weakness they encounter. This helps the team develop a sense of what could be improved in the practice. This discussion must be very frank to be effective.
  3. Opportunities. I have yet to see a dental practice that does not have significant opportunities in a number of areas. Regardless of your volume, how far you are scheduled out, or your overall production and profit, there are opportunities to enhance the production, profitability, stress level, and daily satisfaction levels in the practice.

A few areas to address include:

  • What are the unique opportunities for your practice?
  • What new services can you provide?
  • How can you focus on more productive procedures and not have your schedule clogged up with minor procedures?
  • How can you close more cases? How can you increase speed without decreasing quality?
  • Threats. What could go wrong in your practice? This could include staff turnover, an insufficient flow of new patients, insufficient case acceptance, changes in insurance reimbursements, or a decline in the economy. Pay special attention to this area; threats often come as a surprise to practices, and inevitably at the worst times.

Strategic positioning

After completeing an S.W.O.T. analysis, you will begin to understand how your practice is viewed in the community. In most cases, dental practices are highly valued. However, is there anything else you want to be known for in your community? Try to understand how your practice is viewed now; determine what you want tomorrow.

Once you have completed a S.W.O.T. analysis and understand your strategic positioning in the community, you have a much better understanding of how to act on the opportunities identified. The realization that your practice may simply be known as a dental practice can allow you to add other opportunities to your list, depending on the desired strategic position of your practice and the community that you serve.

Avoid acting on every opportunity immediately. Place these into some type of timeline; act on the most important opportunities first and continue to enhance your practice.

This exercise is geared toward securing your future growth and success - my goal for all of these columns. Good luck!

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management for general dentists and specialists. Contact The Levin Group at (410) 654-1234.

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