It seems that we have barely packed the kids off back to school and yet now really is the time to start preparing for 2013. I spent much of September and October planning for next year with clients both in their practices and in open workshops.  The message coming back from the frontline is clear, with the rate of change in both NHS and private dentistry in the UK, those that fail to prepare, really are preparing to fail.

So what can be done and even more importantly, where do you start? My suggestion is that you start at the “top”. Take some time out to reflect upon what you want to achieve and be brave enough to break this down into three key elements;

1. What do you want to be? Think beyond “dentist” if you can. You need to go fairly deep here as this should really reflect the essence of who you are and how you want to live your life.

2. What do you want to do? This is the “dentistry” bit and should reflect the practices of dentistry that you enjoy the most, that you have the most energy for.

3. What do you want to have? This is the final stage although often this is where most people start. This is the traditional “setting a goal” part where you aspire to have something in your possession such as income or assets.  Just be careful with this though because when you get your goal, you will need to have also satisfied what you want to be and do. There are after all lots of miserable millionaires out there!

This can all be wrapped up into your own Definite Chief Aim, a term that first appeared in a 1937 book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. A famous Definite Chief Aim is that of Bruce Lee.

“I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental Super Star in the United States. In return I will give exciting performances and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness. Bruce Lee. January 1969”

Is there anybody that does not want to “achieve inner harmony and happiness”? I suggest that you read through this Definite Chief Aim and notice the clear structure of be, do and have.

The next stage is to work out how your Definite Chief Aim will manifest itself within your business and business plans, including those for the next 12 months. This in turn can be broken down into your 2011 financial and non financial objectives before considering how you can make it happen through the tools that are available to you:

The Five P’s of Dental Marketing

1.  Planning and Positioning – Both success and failure require adequate preparation! Plan your business activity around your Definite Chief Aim and break this down into objectives, including those for 2013. Understand that how your position your business in your chosen market has to be consistent with the expectations of your customers and patients. Achieving this consistency is about keeping the balance between Price and Quality right on each and every occasion that your customer and patients interact with you, your team and your brand.

2.  Product Price and Quality – Consider what your customers and patients need to see, hear and feel on each and every occasion and at every step of their involvement with your business. Think what structures and training you can put in place with your team to improve your Peoples Productivity.  What do you need to do to have the confidence of knowing that your team will get it right first time, even when you are behind closed doors with your patient?

3.  Peoples Productivity – Ultimately, the only real difference between you and your competitors will be the interaction between human beings: you, your team, your customers and your patients. How you do things in your dental practice can be due to legacy, inheritance or sheer bloody mindedness. That does make it right and however you do things it will have an impact upon how your delivery is perceived in terms of quality.

4.  Promotional Influence – Any promotional activity must have a desired outcome, a way of measuring the results, complement the rest of The Five P’s and be within an overall structure that is moving your dental practice in the direction that you want it to and your Definite Chief AIm. Advertising is only one form of promotion and so are price reductions. Without direction, any promotion is worthless.

5.  Profitable Outcomes – Keep asking yourself “what’s in it for me” from both your own perspective and that of a patient. If you don’s satisfy this from the perspective of the patient then don’t expect them to either!

Creating a feedback mechanism

With your objectives and your planning in place, you can focus on the importance of having a way of measuring the results of your marketing activity. Think about what you can measure in your business to allow you to understand and interpret on a regular basis (at least monthly) the direction that your business is traveling in. Three key rules, make sure that the measure is simple to calculate, adds value and clarifies direction.

Creating a confident state of mind

All consistently successful businesses have a structure to what they do. Planning for 2013 is part of having a successful structure. My clients tell me that the real beneficiary of structure and planning however are their patients. Being confident in your business, knowing that things are being taken care of whilst you are “doing the day job” is ultimately going to improve the quality of the dentistry that you provide by allowing you to focus on what you trained for. If like me, you find helping people and changing lives is a great feeling then surely being a dentist must be one of the greatest jobs in the World? – sometimes it just takes a bit of planning!

PS The 2013 Insiders Club Leadership and Business Development programme is now selecting for March 2013 and will be jointly delivered with specialist periodontist Matt Perkins. There are limited places to book now by emailing me for further details.