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How do I set goals for my business?

January 10, 2020

Here we are, starting another year again. How does this happen?

As we’re preparing for this new year, a big focus of ours is always on setting new and measurable goals. 

What is it exactly that makes a goal measurable? 

First, make your goals specific. If you’re looking to grow a business, look at the different channels or areas that will feed into that growth. Do you need to focus on increasing your average ticket sale price? Do you need hone in on your conversion rate – the percentage of leads that get converted into sales? Or do you need to set a goal around the number of patients that keep their new patient appointments. Having specific goals allows you to create and stick to a road map for achieving success in the individual areas, instead of being overwhelmed by the big picture. 

Having specific goals allows you to create and stick to a road map for achieving success in the individual areas, instead of being overwhelmed by the big picture. 

Here are some questions for you to get started on goal setting. 

What is the large, general goal that you’re looking to accomplish (i.e. grow your business, have a more profitable business). 

________________________________________

 

What are a few areas or efforts that contribute to that goal (i.e. new patient numbers, conversion rate, average ticket sale) 

  1. ______________________
  2. ______________________
  3. ______________________
  4. ______________________
  5. ______________________

Next, your goal needs to be quantifiable – it needs to have an amount tied to it. If a goal is not tied to a quantity, it’s easy to say that our efforts are “good enough” or to be unsure if our efforts are getting us closer to achieving the particular goal.

With vague goals, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure if you’re moving in the right direction or progressing fast enough.

Next your goal needs to be quantifiable – it needs to have an amount tied to it. If a goal is not tied to a quantity, it’s easy to say that our efforts are “good enough” or to be unsure if our efforts are getting us closer to achieving the particular goal.  

Let’s look at the comparison of the following goals: 

  • I want to lose some weight  versus  I want to lose 10 pounds
  • I want to make more money  versus  I want to make 4k more each quarter
  • I want to increase our new patient numbers  versus  I want to increase our new patient numbers 15%
  • I want to increase my average sale  versus  I want to increase my average sale by 3%

Do you see how the first goal in each bullet point, while they sound great, aren’t measurable. With vague goals, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure if you’re moving in the right direction or progressing fast enough. 

With the numerical goals, the finish line is very clear. You want to increase your new patient numbers by 15%. That’s clear. 

Looking at your list of areas and efforts that contribute to your big picture goal, now determine how to make those quantifiable. Write each of the efforts from number 1-5 (however many you have) from above on the lines below with a number. You can revisit the quantifiable goal later so this doesn’t need to be your final goal, just practice writing the goals in a measurable way (like the second line of each bullet point from the example above). 

  1. _________________________________________________________________________________
  2. _________________________________________________________________________________
  3. _________________________________________________________________________________
  4. _________________________________________________________________________________
  5. _________________________________________________________________________________

The second part of these goals is that they should be realistic. Sure, if we had a magic lamp to rub, we’d all like to make 10 million extra dollars this year. But, if we’re in our first year as an office and we’ve just started marketing our dental office, is that likely attainable? A good way to determine realistic goals is to look at data. If you aren’t a new business or a new practice, look back at last year’s and the previous year’s stats. How many new patients did you have last year? What was your conversion rate for the last year? If you have data for multiple years, look at the average amount of growth you’ve sustained year over year. If in year one, you had 1,000 sales, and in year two you had 1,100 sales. Your sales grew by 10% . If you are a new business or a new practice, you’ll need to do some research. What is your total overhead for running the business, plus what do you need to make to live? Once you have that number, determine how many new patients, new customers, or average sales you need to make to hit that number and scale up from there. Then, start collecting data from the get go. Be meticulous about collecting and tracking, and goal setting down the road will be even easier. The next part of your goal is that it needs to have a timeline attached. If you have no end for the goal set, then there’s no reason to start right now. From above, if your goal is to increase new patients 15%, what span of time are you looking to make that increase? Most practices and businesses set goals for a year and then incremental goals for quarters. One reason for this is that you need time to ramp up your marketing and processes and for them to have an impact. Marketing doesn’t make a difference overnight.

Another reason is keeping goals realistic. It’d be great if we snapped our fingers and tomorrow we increased new customers and total revenue for the day by 15% and continued that trend day after day. But increasing customers, new patients, leads, and sales takes a plan, hard work and time. We recommend setting new patient/customer and production goals for an entire year, then dividing to get quarterly, monthly and daily goals.

If you’ve decided that your overall production goal for the year will increase by $100,000, add that $100,000 to last year’s production. For example, $700,000 + $100,000 = $800,000.
Then, each quarter you’d have a goal of $200,000, each month $66,666.66, and depending on the working days, roughly $3,333.33 per day. Breaking your goals down this way not only makes them seem more attainable (instead of starting our on January 1st and trying to reach for $800,000, you’re shooting for $3,333.33), but they also allow you measure your goals in easier chunks as well. Whether you’re on day three of the year – or halfway through a month – you and your team both know exactly what you’re working towards.

Mentioning working towards goals with your team, segues right into the next part of goal setting: you need to make your goals public to your team. If you’re a doctor and you’re trying to reach a production goal for the year, you’re not the only one making that happen. There’s a whole team behind you that is either going to support – or fight – the progress towards that goal. Making your goals public to your entire team allows everyone to see exactly where the office stands at any given point of the month, quarter or year. Think about the metaphor of a tug of war. If half of your team is on one side of the rope pulling towards what they perceive as the goal, and the other side of the rope is pulling towards what they think the goal is, your team is going to be fighting one another. Posting, discussing and promoting your goal to the team, helps everyone to move, or “pull,” in the right direction. 

Finally, once your goals are set and made public, incentivize your team to work towards those goals. It might seem that a pat on the back or a thumbs up is enough to thank your team for helping you reach your business goals, but incentives can make team members feel valued. They also help the team members to feel more vested in the success of the business – the better the business does, the better they do. The alternative is to have a team working towards goals that don’t impact them, which can lead to employee burnout or indifference towards the success of the business. Employees who feel valued and feel rewarded for their hard work, become better and harder working employees. Some businesses rely strictly on cash rewards for reaching goals. For example, $20 cash to every team member at the end of the month for every goal hit. Everyone and every team is motivated differently though. We recommend surveying your team to determine how they’d like to collectively be rewarded. Do most team members want the extra cash? Do more want gift cards? Would your team like special bonding and team building activities to celebrate? Free lunches? Or, perhaps you have a team of travelers who’d like to accrue PTO for reaching their goals? Regardless of what you decide on as a reward, allowing the team to have a say in the goal and then sticking to it is an important part of promoting team camaraderie and cooperation.

You now have a quick and simple outline for setting goals for your business. Get ready to increase your new patients, bump up your sales, generate more leads and ramp up your business production.

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