The #1 Thing to Change Immediately to Ensure Success

The #1 Thing to Change Immediately to Ensure Success

Do you ever get tired of the dental practice consulting articles, blogs, marketing postcards, and countless social reminders with the title, “We’re half way through the year, is your dental practice on track to meet its goals”?  For some of us, we avoid these type of cliché titled reads because they are a reminder that we never set our annual goals in January.

For others, the phrase “half way through the year” causes anxiety not to mention the sheer panic mode when we realize that we have not met our mid-year goals.  If you are in the top 8% of private dental practices that actually DO realize we are half way through the year and the answer is YES you are on track to meet your goals…  Congratulations, job well done.  For the other 92%…  you are not alone.

The funny thing about setting goals in a private dental practice is that most Office Managers or Practice Owners think the process goes something like this:

  • Set a meeting in Dec. to discuss goals for the upcoming year
  • Meeting is usually an hour and includes the Dental Practice Consulting Partner, Doctor Owner, Office Manager, and Clinical Manager.
  • During the meeting you discuss new patients, collections rate, production goals, hygiene recall, scheduling, and staff.
  • The team collectively decides on the goals for the upcoming year
  • Everyone goes on the holiday break for 2 weeks and feels really positive about next year

Sounds great, right?  Let’s dissect it a bit more in-depth:

  • Where was the meeting held? Most of these meetings are “Let’s get out of the practice and go to lunch to have our annual meeting.”  The challenge with this is that the numbers you need to analyze in an effort to set accurate goals are in the office.  You need to be able to look at honest numbers so that you know what you’ve done and what you need to do.
  • The meeting needs to be an entire day. These are serious discussions that take way more than an hour at lunch or the time it takes at happy hour to enjoy a cocktail or two.
  • The biggest question I ask is: “Now that you have goals in place, what roadmap is in place to ensure success?”

Are you seeing my point?

Setting goals is imperative for any successful dental practice.  But, what good are the goals if the team doesn’t know what they are or how to achieve them?  For example, when you are driving somewhere you’ve never been, what do you do?  Most folks put the address into a GPS system and then follow the directions to their destination.  Now, consider the goals as your destination.

Have you given your team the directions to follow to get to the final result?  Be honest with yourself.  The answer is most likely, No.  Again, you are not alone. (see a pattern here…?)

The most common goal most practice leaders set is to increase monthly production.  This is broken down into smaller chunks, and the number of New Patients is at the top of the list.  In a successful private dental practice, the goal to hit is 50 new patients per provider per month.

If your practice is bringing in 30 new patients per month, you would set a goal to increase new patients on avg. by 20 per month.  However, do you take into consideration the implication on other areas of the practice?

How will you attract those additional 20 new patients?  It will mean an increase in marketing dollars spent, an increase on a team member’s time managing social media and other online referral sources, training the front team to ask for referrals, possibly opening up more provider time on the schedule, more help answering phones and scheduling patients, and the list goes on.

Let’s just look at the first obstacle which is increasing marketing dollars.  A healthy practice maintains a total overhead cost of 60% of less of total production.  If you spend an additional $5,000 in marketing, the budget numbers have to make sense.

The answer is to set up a system to ensure successful growth.  The entire team must be educated and on the same page.

The #1 Thing to Change Immediately

First, schedule an entire day for the entire team to have an annual goal setting meeting at the office.  Prior to the meeting, run up-to-date reports showing current numbers.  You will need the New Patient Report, Production / Collection Report, Fee Schedules, Insurance lists, Most Common Treatment Report, Outstanding Balances over 90 Days (this should be a very short list), and the “Scheduler” Report.

Make arrangements for someone to bring breakfast for the team and pre-order lunch to be delivered to the office. Next, make sure that the meeting has a positive tone.  Be prepared.  This is not a “What the heck happened to this year” meeting, it is an opportunity to set the roadmap for the next year.

Third, for every goal set make sure that the team knows how to achieve it.  For example:  If you are asking the team to decrease the number of “no-show” appointments from 5% to 3%, give them the tools to understand how to make it happen.

Let them know the proper verbiage to use when scheduling appointments, review the current cancellation policy and make changes if necessary, role-play how to talk to a patient who has a “same day conflict”, and how to implement a cancellation fee without sounding too “corporate”.

Maybe go so far as to assign one person to the task of re-recording the after-hours message to include information about your new cancellation policy. Next (and possibly the most important), LISTEN to the team’s input.  Team members need to have an ownership mentality.  They need to be heard and want to have “skin in the game”.

I always hear from doctor owners, “My team is always asking for a bonus.”  This is awesome!  That means they are willing to go the extra mile if there is something in it for them.  Of course! Having a team with an ownership mentality is hard to find.  If you have it, appreciate them and implement a type of bonus.  Maybe call it an “Incentive Pay” or something but give your team skin in the game.  I digress….

Last, don’t wait until mid-year to ask if the practice is on track to meet the annual goals.  Keep track of the numbers monthly and tweak them if needed.  Stay on top of the staff by asking what you can do to help them achieve success.  Show appreciation to the team and your dental practice consulting partner when goals are met.

Don’t wait until mid-year to celebrate 50 new patients in March.  Acknowledge job well done when the goal is met and hopefully you will be celebrating all year long!

Cheers to a successful year!  If you would like your complimentary Dental Practice Report Card, please contact us today!

View our dental practice video tips that provide dental offices with key information that can help your practice’s growth. Subscribe to our Front Office Coach channel on YouTube to be alerted when new video tips get published.

To learn more about how to explain dental insurance to patients or would like additional hiring tools, contact us today at or 214-755-0955.  For more information about our custom training solutions, visit

About the Author…

Change Immediately

Tracy Civick is a nationally recognized speaker, coach, and author who focuses on motivating dental front office teams to grow practice revenue and get a better handle on the daily dental practice front office tasks.  Her memberships include The Academy of Dental Management Consultants and AADOM, Academy of Dental Office Managers.

Call Now Button214-755-0955