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Developing A Strategy For A Successful Practice


Feb 17, 2019

At the heart of every successful business and dental practice lies a carefully thought-out strategy. Dentists should continually reevaluate their strategy to identify which processes are improving their practices and which aspects of their strategy need to be replaced.

Although strategy is significant, it is important to understand it within the context of the big picture of building a successful practice. Once you get the people component working in the right direction, only then can you start working on a cohesive strategy.

The key piece here is being authentically honest about yourself. When you are self-aware, it means you are critical of how you are contributing to your own problems.

After you give your strategy a realistic self-evaluation, you can set up a plan to make it better. Learning how to score your own strategy and recognize its faults and flows will provide you with the tools necessary to redevelop it and redefine your practice.

Establishing Life Balance

Part of owning a business is having a good strategy in place, and a key part of that strategy is maintaining a good life balance. There is no such a thing as a “work-life balance.” There’s just a life balance.

A couple years ago, I worked with a great coach, Nido Qubein of High Point University. He said, “Kirk, you are getting it wrong. You are so focused on return on investment (ROI), but you should be refocusing on return on life (ROL). Work hard, but then at the end go, ‘Wow, I’m getting what I want out of my life.’”

Life balance is an important piece of your strategy score. Even if you have a successful business, it will not be doing you any good if you do not have a life outside of it. Before you climb a ladder, make sure it’s on the right wall, as you are going to climb that ladder all the way up. Regardless of your goals for professional growth, ensure you are meeting your personal needs above all else.

Plan For 3-5 Years From Now

Strategic plans should always set concrete objectives with in a three- to five-year timeframe. This allows business owners to track outcomes on an ongoing basis.

At ACT Dental, we encourage dentists and their teams to participate in strategic planning sessions every quarter. At each planning session, they should evaluate the processes they are currently implementing and the movements they are engaging in to make sure they support their vision for the next three to five years.

During your quarterly strategy meeting, revisit your goals. Are they good goals? If so, what are you doing this year that will help you achieve them in the near future?

Too many dentists just put their heads down and work hard to simply make more money. To truly achieve success in your practice, however, the outcomes have to be specifically designed.

Establish Quarterly Priorities

Quarterly strategy meetings will help you establish your three- to five-year goals in concrete terms. This should be very specific. Using that framework, you need to break down your plan into annual and quarterly steps you can take to grow and improve your business. Set six-month and one-year goals that support those three- to five-year goals.

During each quarterly meeting, identify one area of prioritization you and your team can use to improve your practice as a whole. Working toward these smaller, supportive goals as a team will help you and your employees invest in the future success of your practice together. It will also enable you to reap the rewards of small, measurable changes throughout the year.

Reach Out For Expert Help

Professional consultants and business experts exist for a reason. They have a specialized set of skills they can use to help you grow and improve your practice.

It’s significant to seek out paid (rather than pro-bono) business assistance. When you do not pay someone, it’s called advice. When you pay for someone’s expertise and know-how, it’s called coaching or consulting. While it may seem semantic, you are more likely to follow the advice and wisdom that paid consultants or coaches have to offer.

If you are just asking for someone’s expertise, you are not really going to listen to it. When you pay an expert, you are putting your money where your mouth is, and you are letting that person help you.

Build Your Strategy

Although developing a successful strategy is a complex process that requires forethought and collaboration, there are a few simple components you can follow to get started on the road toward improving and growing your practice:

  • Define the strategy: First, establish your goals for the next three to five years. Are these goals aligned with what you want for your business and for your life? If so, outline the steps necessary to achieve them—and keep them written down.
  • Empower your team: Provide your entire team with a clear idea of your strategy, the steps necessary to achieve your practice’s goals and the progress you have made so far.
  • Display progress: Set up score boards everywhere around your practice displaying your current progress. Monitoring your progress toward your goals for the next three to five years gives you good feedback on whether you are on track or off track.

When you do not have a strategy in place at your business, you are running your practice by the “fire of the day.” That’s how I ran my business for years, and it was not sustainable.

Establishing, implementing and building a strategy will allow you to improve production, reap better patient outcomes and truly enjoy dentistry once again.

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.