Knowing When to Plan

Many dentists experience openings in their schedule, drops in revenue, patients not showing up or cancelling, and staff turnover.  Many of these types of issues result in short sighted decisions that lead to poor results.  Decisions made in the heat of the moment, when you are under stress, or feel overwhelmed tend to be the wrong decisions that eventually produce diminishing results and a downturn in practice success. 

As much as everyone logically knows that proper long-term planning is the answer to reducing these types of issues, when emotion sets in under stress, many dentists make the wrong choices.  We often get these types of questions:

  • How do I get my people not to quit?
  • How do I get my patients to show up to their scheduled appointments?
  • How do I maintain a certain level of revenue consistently so that I am not constantly up and down or in overdraft?
  • How do I prevent openings in the schedule?

And the most common question: Why is this happening?

As much as many of you don’t want to admit it, it comes down to leadership.  When the owner, or the leader isn’t looking at themselves and isn’t looking at the long-term growth of the practice, these types of issues constantly come up.  If this is happening in your practice, it is because 6 months ago, or a year ago, you failed to do certain things.  Looking at the outcome, the disease, the symptom of what is happening in your business is just like when something is happening in your body; by the time you are overweight or diseased, or have cancer, there are certain things that have led up to that.  Those things happened a long time ago.  So we need to step back and see what happened a long time ago to see what caused this problem, how this problem began and think about what you could have done 6 months ago or a year ago and let’s do that now so we can avoid this problem happening in the future. 

So that’s Strategic Planning – and be sure to check out our Strategic Planning Intro video here

Many offices make quick decisions that are the short and “shiny” decisions to get themselves through the day.  But that will hurt the long-term growth of the business.  So you need to focus on decisions that will help you long-term; decisions that may have a lag time, or a slow effect but will exponentially help your practice grow in perpetuity. 

The first step to long-term planning, especially when things are tough or super stressful is to actually pause, slow down, and think.  You want to think about what you want to achieve long-term, think about your goals, your targets.  That’s the first step in strategic planning.  So if you are in a tough place right now and you need to make a shift quickly, you go after the low-hanging fruit like your continuing care (link to the UPB Ultimate Hygiene Program) because this will give you quick results.  When you have consistency in your patients coming in for periodontal therapy and continuing care, you have an opportunity to discuss outstanding treatment, or diagnose new treatment when they are present in your office.  But this is not yet the time to be going after the big whales.  When people panic, they sometimes try to push the types of treatment that would bring big rewards, but patients can sense your stress and your urgency and you can actually come across too pushy.  So focus at the beginning on building your daily continuing care, and once you are more stable and have that system well organized, you can move up to bigger and more long-term planning, which can include things like shifting your practice to do more comprehensive dentistry, or get into new treatments that you may just be learning about. 

Our Ultimate Hygiene Program is that important piece of the growth process.  Building up and ensuring that your continuing care is optimized allows you more frequent access and opportunity to see your patients on a regular basis.  This always leads to a greater case acceptance and more discussion about the types of treatment you want to do more of.  In addition, a solid hygiene schedule builds your schedule, which in turn leads to greater confidence and stability not just for you but also for your entire team, and creates a culture of teamwork.  People do better when they have systems in place that are working and they see progress and growth.  It’s very motivating. 

For more information on the Strategic Plan or the Ultimate Hygiene Program, check us out at

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