Les Jones, creative director from Practice Plan, and Chris Barrow, dental business coach, join forces to share their views on the importance of a clear vision for your practice and the best way to communicate it to all involved.
Les: When I look to support our Practice Plan clients who have recently come on board, I tend to ask two important vision questions:
Do you sometimes get irritated that your team are not performing to their full potential? Do you have a clearly defined and well communicated vision for the future of your practice?
If they are like the vast majority of dental practices, the answer to the first question is probably ‘yes’, which means the answer to the second question is probably ‘no’.
Why? Because the two questions are linked. Teams perform better when they have a clear focus that is constantly reinforced, but that can only begin with a clear vision for your practice. There are lots of approaches when looking to do this, so here are a few pointers for you to consider.
A clear picture
Firstly, by its very nature a vision is about creating a clear picture of where you want to be at a certain point in the future. Here’s a little exercise you might want to try to start the process:
Choose a date in the future, let’s say two years from today. Now close your eyes and imagine that you are walking up to the front door of your practice and you go in. What you see is your practice exactly as you would like it to be (no barriers, no reasons why not). Now take a virtual walk through the practice. What does it look like? What’s happening? How are people behaving and interacting? How is the practice performing? What treatments are being carried out? What are patients saying about the practice?
The more detail you capture, the more real the picture becomes. Just three more things to check off: are you happy about it? Does it excite you? Is it a place worth aiming for?
When you’ve got a vision that ticks all of those boxes, you’re ready to communicate it out to all the people affected, to engage and enthuse them, and share the benefits of making it happen. What do you think Chris?
Chris: Absolutely. As you mentioned, you need to get the message of your vision out to all of those people who will be affected, from your team, to your patients, your suppliers and even your family. But don’t worry, there are some very practical suggestions as to how you can achieve this.
Firstly, it makes sense to create a document that will represent a declaration for ‘how we do things around here’ – think ‘vision statement’, which will outline ‘we are going to do £X business with Y people by Z date.’ A vision statement is a manifesto of how you and your team intend to behave towards each other, the patients and your suppliers. The vision statement exists to give you and your team a set of behavioural standards.
Once your vision is agreed, it is important to gather your team together, preferably in a neutral environment (off site), to create and/or present the vision to them. It is important that this is seen as ‘not just another meeting’ so the environment needs to make everyone feel involved. I’ve seen some amazing meetings where teams have been invited to take part in the vision creation process, so that they feel a sense of ownership in the final result. There are techniques available to facilitate such meetings.
Broadcast your vision
And finally, don’t forget your patients and suppliers, who need to be informed once the final vision is agreed. The internet gives you the ability to broadcast your vision to large communities at low cost.
Your vision can be shared via:
- A monthly email and printed newsletter
- Your website
- A new patient welcome pack
- A well-managed Facebook page
- A frequently published blog
- Guest articles in other publications
- Other social channels as appropriate to the demographic and socio-economic mix of your patients.
Overall, remember this final point, a vision is not fixed – it can be affected by external factors and internal factors. Therefore, it is critical to revisit and renew your vision on a regular basis, to take feedback from all of your audiences and to make any business corrections to maximise the effectiveness, the quality and the profitability of your business.
Your vision renewal could be annually as a minimum but, as the pace of innovation quickens, you may choose to renew your vision more frequently. This really will send a message to your team, patients and suppliers that you mean business.
Practice Plan is a specialist provider of practice-branded dental membership plans and an increasingly significant source of wider business support services for dentistry. For more information visit www.practiceplan.co.uk.
Les Jones is the creative director at Practice Plan. He has over 30 years’ experience of working within the creative and dental sectors in the fields of design, marketing and strategic consultancy.
An active consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession, Chris has spent over 23 years witnessing first-hand the trials and tribulations faced by dentists today. For more information, visit www.coachbarrow.com.