The New Year is always a great time for change. It marks the beginning of a new chapter and a new chance to be the best versions of ourselves, both personally and professionally. As a dental practice owner, the new year presents an opportunity to review, reevaluate, and revamp your practice. Businesses need New Year’s resolutions just as much as individuals do. Let’s talk about some of the actions you can take in the first week of the new year to get some quick wins under your belt and set the foundation for the year to come.
It’s easy to jump into goal-setting without first taking the time to step back and really look at your current situation. But we can’t get where we want to go without first knowing where we are.
For the past 10 years, I’ve made a habit of taking some time on New Year’s Day to reflect on how the previous year went. I grab my computer and a cup of coffee, turn off my phone and all my notifications, and excuse myself to a quiet corner to work through a guided reflection. I answer the same 20 questions, year after year. Questions like:
Once I have answered all my reflection questions for the current year, I go back and reread all of my previous years’ responses, from the very first year I began the exercise all the way through to the current year. It’s amazing to see how your habits, ideas, goals, and mindset shift and change over time. Seeing everything spelled out on paper helps to reveal what is working well and where there are areas of opportunity. Armed with this insight, you can set realistic, impactful goals for yourself and your practice in the new year. This also gives you a tangible document to look back on next year to measure the success of your 2022 goals and to see how you and your practice have grown.
I was working part-time as a restaurant shift lead in my early 20s. I remember training my first new hire. I was showing them how we filled the dishwashing sinks and explained that one of the faucets was broken, so we kept a pitcher underneath the counter to fill that sink with water from an adjacent faucet. My trainee looked at me, a little confused, and said, “Why don’t we just replace the broken faucet? Don’t those cost like $60?”
At the risk of sounding completely incompetent, I can honestly say it hadn’t occurred to me to replace the faucet. Our floor manager trained me to use the pitcher under the counter, and they were taught to do it that way by the manager before them. We had operated for well over a year with one of our main sink faucets in-operational, and everyone just adapted. Our “workaround” was getting us by just fine, so no one ever stopped to consider how much time and energy was being wasted due to this faulty piece of equipment that would have taken $60 and an hour to repair.
How often do we keep doing things the way they’ve always been done without questioning why or asking if there’s a more effective way? With equipment and software especially, we tend to use things day after day and get used to little “quirks” as they pop up. As more and more “quirks” develop and we adapt to them all over time, it’s easy to overlook how much time and effort are going into our workarounds for broken or outdated equipment.
Take some time at the beginning of this year to inspect your hardware and software and make any necessary repairs or replacements. As the practice owner, you may not be actively using everything in your office regularly, so be sure to consult with your team. Do your hygienists have the tools they need? Does your front office team have software that supports your business goals? Set your team up for success by giving them the right tools to do their job effectively.
Stop settling for workarounds. Invest in the equipment and software you need, and you’ll see the ROI in increased productivity, loyal staff, and better patient retention.
Staffing shortages are a universal problem right now, and dentistry is no exception. Looking at the year ahead, acquiring and retaining quality team members is going to require more intentionality than ever. There’s a good chance you already hosted a holiday party or treated your staff members to an end-of-year gift or bonus. That’s a great start, but the key is to consistently prioritize staff appreciation throughout the whole year.
Building an exceptional workplace culture and making sure your staff knows they are valued and respected is one of the greatest things you can do for your practice in the new year. A team who knows they are valued will be more invested in the collective goals and success of your practice. Empower your team to be the best version of themselves by making recognition and appreciation a habit, by giving them the tools to do their work effectively, and by rewarding people who go above and beyond.
If you don’t currently have a bonusing system in your practice, consider implementing one. It’s an easy way to motivate team members and to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to acknowledging extra effort and appreciating high performers.
There’s no limit to the amount of possible New Year’s Resolutions you could make, but starting with these three will set you up for success in the new year. A clear understanding of where you are and where you want to be, coupled with the right tools and the right team? That’s a recipe for success.
For more actionable tips on starting the new year strong, check out The 2022 Office Manager Roadmaps from Dental Intelligence.
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