The time to gain momentum to hit 2016 goals is NOT after the first of the year. That will be far too late. The time is now!
Here is a succinct checklist of to dos to ensure that you hit the ground running in the new year:
- Set Quantifiable Goals. Pull reports that show production by month and new patient numbers by month. Are you satisfied with those results, or does your practice need more to really thrive? What’s the gap between where you are now and where you want to be? What will it take to close that gap? Write down your goals in clear, simple language and make them quantifiable. For example, “My goal is to earn $150,000 in production every month in 2016, up from $80,000 per month in 2015.” Another way to write it might be, “My goal is for my associate and I to see 100 new patients per month in 2016, up from 55 per month in 2015.”
- Complete Vision Work with Your Team. Now that you have clarity on the goal, share it with your team in a meaningful way. Write it on a whiteboard in the break room or somewhere that is visible for the whole team on a daily basis. Dedicate a morning huddle or a special lunch meeting to discussing the goal. Ask the team: What would the practice look and feel like once we hit that goal? What will your work and life look like once we hit that goal? What’s in it for you to help us reach that goal? This would be an excellent time to present any employee bonuses that may be tied to the practice reaching its goal. (Remember, a bonus does not necessarily have to be monetary, just inspiring.) Once you get your team on board with your goal and vision, you are well on your way to achieving the dream.
- Set the Marketing Budget. Put into writing an exact dollar figure that you are willing to invest annually in marketing. Next, break that down into monthly increments since most marketing programs require a monthly fee. This will give you clarity on how much gas you are willing to put into the tank in order to get to the destination. Keep in mind that the majority of small businesses, dental practices included, invest 5-7% of total annual production back into marketing and that an annual marketing investment of $30,000-$50,000 is typical for the average single-dentist practice.
- Review the Past Year’s Marketing Performance. Schedule a single conference call or meeting with every vendor and employee who worked on your marketing program this past year. Ask them: What was our marketing goal in 2015? What reporting can you share with me that shows that we met that goal? What specific marketing tactics worked best? What specific marketing tactics need improvement? What specific marketing tactics are we considering implementing in the future, and why? Keep what’s working and ditch what’s not. That goes for both marketing tactics and vendors.
- Develop Next Year’s Marketing Plan. Articulate in writing each marketing tactic that you plan to deploy in 2016. While there are about 25 possible tactics that a dental practice can deploy, it’s best to focus on only 5 or 6 per year. Next to each, write down the investment needed, and be sure that the sum of all of them is less than your overall marketing budget. Share the marketing plan with your team so they understand what the practice is doing to reach its goal, what each person’s role is in making that happen and why you selected the marketing tactics that you did. The more buy-in you get from the team, the more successful the plan will be.
- Recalibrate Your Marketing Team. If completing the checklist to this point revealed that it’s time to let go of a vendor, bring on a new partner or make internal changes with how marketing is handled, then now is the time to do it. Make sure you have an A Team in place that can expertly handle the marketing while you focus on dentistry.
- Pay Marketing Vendors in Advance. Offset 2015 taxes by paying trusted marketing vendors up front for the work they will complete for you in the following year. If you are sure about making the investment with them and you have the cash flow to manage it, this can be a great way to give less to Uncle Sam and wisely invest those dollars back into your practice.
This holiday season is not only a time to rest and celebrate. It’s also a ripe time for getting your marketing in perfect order for success in 2016.