Achieve Your Goals the SMARTER Way

Do you remember when you established your 2017 practice goals months, maybe a year ago? Did you take the time to set goals? As we are into the fourth quarter of 2017 and have only a couple of months to make those goals a reality, will you achieve them? What were your goals? What was your plan to achieve those goals? How have you been monitoring your progress?

Forbes looked at a goal setting survey that analyzed a group of Harvard MBA students over a 10-year period. Initially, students were asked about their professional and monetary earning goals. The results showed that only 3% of the students 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, leaving 84% without any goals in mind at all. The study ended 10 years later, when they interviewed the same group of students. They found that the 13% who had goals in mind but did not write them down earned twice that of the 84% without 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!

The study suggests that without written and monitored goals, success is much more difficult to reach. Without something to keep you in check, it’s too easy to stray or say, ”I’ll get that done later.“ Using the results of the study as our motivation, let’s think about incorporating S.M.A.R.T.E.R. strategy when it comes to setting your professional and personal goals.

Determine where you are with your practice by using tools annually, like Henry Schein’s Practice Analysis, and set your practice goals. These can be related to business measurements like increasing production, collections, new patients, and so on. The most important part of setting goals is having them in writing and monitoring progress. Let’s look at the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. strategy:

  1. Specific – Setting specific, attainable goals, and writing them down
  2. Meaningful – The ”Why?“ of your goals, setting goals that you’ll really strive to achieve
  3. Achievable – Your goals must be achievable given current and available resources
  4. Relevant – Setting goals that are in line your life’s objectives and core values
  5. Time-bound – Specify a time frame to achieve your goals in
  6. Evaluate – Goals must be quantifiable to measure success, and measured often to make sure you stay on track
  7. Readjust – Monitor and evaluate progress and readjust or modify your approach to success as needed

You may be thinking, ”We establish goals that are all of the above, but why are we not reaching them?“ It seems that offices with goals tend to succeed in just some of the S.M.A.R.T.E.R categories. The one area that has shown to be commonly lacking or completely missed is the Evaluate, or measurable aspect of goal planning and attainment. You might think that most practice goals are easily measurable at completion – you either hit your production goal or you didn’t. What about ongoing measuring and monitoring throughout the year? What about ways to measure some of your softer goals? Have you considered different ways in which you might measure goals, and when you will measure them to ensure you are on track?

In this age of data overload, offices seem to struggle with Practice Management Software report utilization. All of the leading software systems allow offices to run countless reports looking into different KPIs (key performance indicators), are those the correct reports? Are they helping us achieve our goals? Many times, an office will know hyper specific details based on a report that they constantly run, but not important metrics such as daily production, current active patient count, or case acceptance. The bells and whistles of Practice Management software and the dashboards out there are fantastic, but where should we begin?

A high level analysis of your practice on an ongoing basis is necessary to know the overall health of your practice. From there you should be able to drill deeper into certain aspects of your practice, or maybe you will uncover something you hadn’t considered before or identify a need for help in certain areas. You wouldn’t schedule a patient for a root canal without first examining the patient, confirming the need for a root canal, and diagnosing them. Your practice is no different.

If you formally establish goals along with a plan to achieve them, you must be able to monitor the progress towards your goals and be able to adjust depending on trends. Performing a Practice Analysis regularly or at least annually allows you to do this. An Analysis is a great resource to view the overall health of your practice. In tandem with the Analysis, you can utilize your Practice Management software or associated dashboard to drill deeper. Don’t be afraid to pull in the needed expertise to help you determine next steps. We have found that offices that complete a Practice Analysis each year increase their production exponentially more than those that don’t. Take the time to complete an analysis, set your goals, make them S.M.A.R.T.E.R. and establish a plan for attaining those goals. Remember – the most important first step is to write your goals down!

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 achieve their goals. Derek, along with the resources through Henry Schein Business Solutions, strives to help dental offices focus on practice care so that his customers can focus on patient care.