When dental principals are planning their exit from the business they have spent many years of their lives building up, a certain amount of ‘naval gazing’ is expected. Admit it – who hasn’t spent at least an hour or two blissfully imagining those final moments when you walk out of the practice doors into the warm sunshine, stopping only to drop the keys into the hand of a new (and sometimes unsuspecting) owner, smiling smugly as you walk away remembering all of the paperwork, staff issues, compliance and regulations that are no longer going to fill your life? You are off to throw your energies into much more enjoyable pastimes – family time, travel, golf, cycling to name just a few. A new life of ‘doing your own thing’ and unashamedly loving it!
Dreaming is good for all of us, but as any wise old owl will tell you, with maturity also comes a phenomenon that I have never quite been able to explain – how exactly does time seem to pass at ever accelerating speeds as we get older?
Have you ever travelled to a place that you had never visited before and it seemed to take forever to get there but then, on the return trip, it only seemed to take half the time to get back home? One theory is that you are not paying as much attention to where you are going and what is around you – you know the route home and you have already seen everything before.
This concept can be expanded to our life as a whole. When we are young, we have new experiences constantly and are learning new things, paying attention to every detail. As we get older it is a case of ‘been there, done that’ and we tend to pay less attention to the familiar things around us. We go to work every day and each day is comparatively similar to the last, giving us the feeling that the days gradually merge into each other. As we get older, more and more of our experience is ‘old hat’, meaning that our conscious mind takes less and less notice and time seemingly goes faster and faster.
Can you relate to this? Almost everyone I speak to, both professionally and personally, can. But this adage can have a profound effect on our own effectiveness in our business environments and, importantly, can be a significant risk to our pockets. Drifting along day to day without a clear path can spell disaster for some dental businesses in this world of increasing costs and growing corporate competition. But how can you make sure that your business maximises its potential, continues to succeed and forms the platform to fund those future dreams for your retirement years?
As a principal, it is vitally important that you not only know where your business has been and understand how you got there, but how to make sure you are going in the right direction for your future. Business planning is an essential tool to steer your business and dental team in the direction of success, enjoying enhanced profits along the way and ultimately assisting in achieving the maximum value upon sale. It’s no good just making profits if you don’t know how you achieved it. If something goes wrong, will you be able to identify the problem quickly, and implement a speedier solution to ensure that profits are protected.
So, take a moment now to consider – are you really in control of your business, or is it controlling you? Do you understand the financial impact to you and your family of what is going on in your practice day in, day out? Do you actually know how your business fares in comparison to other dental businesses locally and nationally? Do you have a system in place that can quickly and easily identify pricing errors by suppliers, which could be costing your business thousands of pounds per year? Do you manage your stock efficiently or do you leave the equivalent of bundles of pound notes on store room shelves whilst you have an overdraft at the bank and are paying significant amounts of unnecessary interest? Do you know if your associates are actually making, or costing, you money in real terms – not just in terms of income generation, but as contributors of profit to the business?
Fast-track the trial and error stage
Many principals are astonished at the impact business planning can have on their knowledge and understanding of their own businesses and, importantly, their profitability. By working with dental experts who know ‘what works’, you can fast-track past the trial and error stages and make a real difference in just a short time. With practice values being based on multiples of profit, more on the bottom line means a higher sale price for your business, whenever you wish to sell.
In the words of Benjamin Franklin: ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’. With the new financial year upon us, now is the time to take control of your future and financial security – plan for success! Make it your New (financial) Year resolution and commit to it.
After all, that retirement lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of does look rather amazing…