Dental professionals are self-employed – whether as a contractor (a.k.a. Associate) or practice owner-operator. In either case, they are business people. To succeed in business (and life) they need to set goals.
Its been said that the difference between a dream and a goal is that a goal has a deadline. That is true, but really doesn’t go far enough. The more comprehensive and accurate differential is that dreams are abstract – visions for what we would like our life or business or career to be – and to put an even finer point on it, what we expect to have. The having is only realized when we are being true to our values and beliefs and doing those things that are necessary to make our vision a reality.
To quote Zig Ziglar, “You have to BE before you can DO and DO before you can HAVE.” In other words, having is the result of being and doing.
BEing is inclusive of our core values, purpose and intentions. Inwardly, it is our attitude. Outwardly, it is our behavior. How we interpret realities of any opportunity – the pros and cons – are colored by our past experiences; what we “know” about ourselves and others. In other words, we generally have a preconceived expectation of an outcome.
- Be authentic – we can be inspired by the success of others but should not aspire to be someone else.
- Be trustworthy – honest, reliable, predictable
- Be of good character – be inclusive, treat others respectfully regardless of whether you think that they can help or harm you
DOing is linked to being at the juncture with behavior as well as the logistics of planning, preparation and execution necessary to achieve your goals and objectives. The question invariably is if the person should proceed or not. Those who are most successful in their career and life are those who instead ask, how can they achieve their goals, create opportunity or enhance their relationships when making a decision or planning to take action.
In the planning stage of any career or business decision, especially those with long-term implications, it is important to consider the pros and cons before implementing. However, when people are consumed by the “what ifs” – the potential challenges or obstacles inherent in any opportunity or option – it can feel overwhelming.
That feeling often stirs the strongest of all emotion in animals, including humans. Fear. Fear rouses one of two basic instincts – fight or flight. In the case of decision-making, the “flight” manifests as abandonment of the plan with the rationale of “I’ll wait to see what happens” (a.k.a. paralysis by analysis). Those inclined to “fight” may choose to ignore the risks or potential threats, which leads to reaction rather than response. This is one reason that dentists avoid written business plans, contracts and agreements that (when done properly) serve to protect their interests.
The purpose of planning and preparation is not to dissuade us from taking an action or making a decision because choosing to do nothing is, in fact, taking action to avoid changing the status quo. People who are emotionally mature and empowered with information will not be overwhelmed and fearful. They anticipate, identify and acknowledge the risks, then create strategic plans to resolve or overcome them. They have a comprehensive written business plan and policies as well as agreements with business partners, employees and even patients.
HAVE-ing is the result of who we are (BEing) and what we DO. We are rewarded for our accomplishments. Unfortunately, there is only one quantitative measure used by most dentists – their annual financial statement, and more specifically, the practice revenue and income. The problem with using revenue as the sole KPI is there is a significant lapse in time between the activities that resulted in the revenue and when the report is completed. And because changes to operations, personnel, policies and infrastructure in the practice can take some time to manifest in terms of financial outcomes, your ability to identify what is working and what is not can be difficult (if not impossible).
But, wait… because dentistry is a relationship-based business, there are other, equally meaningful data and information that are even better predictors of success in a practice. These are KPI, or Key Performance Indicators which are a valuable tool used in many industries and businesses to monitor performance both quantitatively and qualitatively. KPI provide dentists with another tool to manage their business that delivers short- and long-term benefits when they have accurate data and relevant, comprehensive analysis.
In fact, there are KPI for virtually every aspect of a dental practice – patient demographics (what is your Ideal Patient Profile© anyway?), to active patient status, to normalized AR, and many more that can be customized to your specific needs and expectations. For example, in a dental practice, having relevant and meaningful KPI data and analysis allows us to identify where performance is weak and strong, therefore providing an opportunity to make adjustments to get back on track or reset goals and objectives before it ultimately affects your bottom line. Using KPI as a management tool can also allow you to predict demand for services, so that you and your team can plan and prepare to meet that demand or modify your practice model to control it.