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Seven ideas for a successful 2007

Nov. 1, 2006
A New Year. 2007! Time does fly, doesn’t it? The new year will be here in less than two months.
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A New Year. 2007! Time does fly, doesn’t it?The new year will be here in less than two months. You are ready to plan and forecast ... to strategically plan. You are committed to “making things happen.” You do not want Dec. 31 to roll around only to find all of those goal sheets or project plans folded away in a drawer, or find your practice in the same place it was at the beginning of the year.

There is no such thing as the status quo. You are either moving up or moving down. There is no better time to begin your upward movement than now. No matter how good your practice may be, no matter how healthy your numbers, no matter how well you are doing, there is no better time to take your practice up a notch.

Here are seven ideas for starting 2007 on the right foot.

1Schedule a team retreat to regain focus. Get away from the office for a day. Have a nice luncheon provided. Turn off cell phones and only take calls at scheduled breaks.

Bring your mission statement and outline of your vision for the “ideal practice.” If you don’t have these written down, spend time doing just that. Determine:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • What is the purpose we are serving?
  • This becomes your mission statement. Now, outline your vision for what your “ideal” practice would look like.
  • What kind of treatment would you provide?
  • What would your ideal patient visit be like?
  • Who would be on the team and how would they perform?
  • What kind of technology would you have? Equipment? And how would you maximize it?
  • How many days would you work per week, month or year? What would your hours be?
  • What would your income be?
  • How many days of vacation would you take?
  • What kind of a reputation would you like to establish in the community?
  • Once you have discussed these important attributes of a healthy practice, ask, “What are we doing to accomplish this ‘ideal practice?’ ” Solidify the things that are going well. Then ask yourselves the ever-important question: “How can we do everything that we are doing better?” Identify things that can be improved, then discuss and develop a plan of action to make that happen.Do not hesitate to “take the lid off” of your brainstorming session. There is no reason for you not to have the practice of your dreams. Once the group determines the goals that are desirable and accessible, put a plan of action in place to assure success.
  • Write the goal (what you want to accomplish).
  • Design a plan of action. What are you going to do and how? What resources do you need? What barriers must be overcome?
  • Who is doing what? Assign responsibility for each part of the plan.
  • Time activate each step of the plan.
  • Evaluate your progress. On a regular basis, make sure you are progressing.
  • These simple but effective five steps are the key to starting your year on a positive note and ending it on an even more positive note.2At your team retreat, review the “critical factors” of your practice from the past year. Be sure to celebrate areas of improvement and goals accomplished. Then establish new goals for the coming year. Be sure to project goals based on progress and forward movement - goals that will let you stretch and are relevant to your vision and mission. Project goals that are attainable, such as production, collections, percentage of collections, production per day per provider, hygiene production per day per provider, accounts receivable, adjustments made, number of days worked, case acceptance percentage, number of new patients, number of comprehensive oral evaluations, marketing effectiveness, profit and loss, cost of operation, and overhead and fees.3Evaluate your fees. These may not need to be increased, but they need to be evaluated. Compare your fees and appropriate increases to your increased cost of operation. You should have your end-of-year profit and loss and financial data. Has your overhead gone up? If so, do your fees reflect that increased cost of operation?4Brainstorm ways to improve customer service. Identify and acknowledge the things you do that qualify as excellent customer service. Then decide on at least three new customer service processes you want to integrate. There is never too much customer service.5Help patients think through maximization of existing benefits. If you are accepting assignment of benefits of insurance, send a gracious letter to all patients who have dental insurance to remind them that the beginning of the year will mark the start of a new insurance maximum. If they need care, they need to call the office to schedule an appointment. In some cases, this notice will encourage them to schedule an appointment with the hygienist for continuous care for themselves or their family members. A follow-up phone call to any letters is appropriate, and in many cases, necessary.You can have an awesome start to the new year by helping your patients see the benefits of recommended treatment and helping them maximize their benefits.6Provide performance reviews of all team members. Have team members write out the things they do well and where they would like to improve. You do the same thing. Outline areas of excellence, then outline areas where performance can be enhanced. Obtain coaching if necessary - do whatever it takes to realistically assess your situation and create a plan of action.Compare notes. Determine where you want to start, where you want to go next, and so on. Outline who will do what and how. Then establish a time frame for the plan of action you have created. Schedule appointments with one another to review and evaluate progress.Your team members will appreciate this kind of constructive feedback. Remember, talented people will leave an organization if they are not challenged. Your team members will love the challenge of continuous improvement and appreciate your trust and belief in them and their ability to go to the next level.7Identify areas you want to improve by accessing continuing education. Identify the courses you would like you and your team to take, whether clinical, management, marketing, or personal improvement. Assign one or several members of the team to research information on courses so you can:
  • Put them on the schedule
  • Plan for the financing of the courses
  • Study for the new learning opportunity, and
  • Register in time to take the course and make travel plans.
  • It’s a new year and a new day, and there has never been a better time to take the lid off your practice. Here’s to your successful 2007 and to your successful practice!
    Jameson Management Inc. is an international lecture and consulting firm providing instruction and coaching in four vital areas of practice development: communication, business, hygiene and clinical efficiency, and technology. For further information on how to take your practice to the next level, contact JMI at (877) 369-5558 or visit the Web site at

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