Written By: Adam Chronister 
Date: November 27th, 2018

The Importance of Setting Goals for a Dental Practice

Successful practices set goals. Without them, they have no defined purpose and nothing to strive for; consequently, they become stagnate and struggle for meaningful accomplishments. Goals are steppingstones to an end result. They must be present in every business plan and become a regular part of ongoing business operations. Over 80 percent of small businesses do not keep track of their business goals. Business goals matter. They help ensure that a company understands the necessary steps needed to get to wherever they want to go. So, think carefully about what kind of practice you want to have, and set goals accordingly. It is one of the most vital steps you can take to create a successful dental practice in today’s dental environment.

What are Goals?

Goals are resolutions to achieve a desired result. Whether short or long-term, they provide a clear understanding of what the company is striving to accomplish. Setting short-term goals to reach related long-term goals is a key to success for most any practice. Thinking of short-term goals as "stops along the way" to large goals can compartmentalize processes without losing sight of the big picture. Having goals gives everyday tasks more meaning and clarifies the reasoning behind practice decisions.

Goals Versus Wishes

Separate statements from goals. "My practice will see more patients this quarter" is a statement, not a goal. To turn statements into goals, businesses must follow proven goal-setting procedures; otherwise, goals are merely unattainable wishes.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

One proven goal-setting procedure is called S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive. Goals must also be written, and a plan set forth that outlines probable methods of attainment. Goals should always be fluid without losing scope of the premise, never abandon them unless absolutely necessary. Regularly monitoring goals and producing status reports is helpful in establishing future goals.

Team Effort

Set goals for individuals, departments or the practice as a whole. Consider publicizing the goals for the latter two within the practice. This can result in a team effort, if properly presented, and employees may feel a sense of responsibility and camaraderie. This can help boost morale and aid in bringing goals to fruition. Input from employees during the goal setting and implementation processes can also help keep goals realistic and attainable.

Set Goals Always

Goal setting is not a one-time event when formulating your business plan, but an ongoing process. Patient markets change and both the economy and income fluctuate, so the savvy business owner must take advantage of every situation. Even small goals set in the middle of a crisis can have a positive impact when things improve. When your practice is flourishing, goals help maintain or increase the good times, and can act as a safeguard during inevitable slumps.