Achieving your business goals in 2013

On 25 October, 2012 in Human Resources by Sue Crampton

Achieving Your Business Goals in 2013
Success shouldn’t be accidental!

 

Practice life is demanding, busy and sometimes unpredictable. At this time each year I often challenge practice owners to reconnect with their goals and business plans. Finding the time to re-focus on your business goals can be difficult; however it is one of the most important elements of business success.  If you’re new to the process, or need some refreshing, here are the key areas for focus.

Get Strategic. Review your strategic plan, create one or just ensure you have measurable goals for the year

Strategic planning is the process of determining where a practice is going, how they are going to get there and how they will know if they got there or not. Whilst there are a multitude of models and approaches to creating a strategic plan, the overall emphasis is on goal-based planning and clear KPI management strategies. Strategic plans are commonly created for a three year period although they can range from 1-10 years.  

Whilst it is often the case that practice owners and Partners know where they are going, strategic planning is a meaningful developmental tool for communicating goals and strategies to other members of the team.  It ensures all staff are on the same page and ‘buy in’ to the practice plans for success. Additional benefits come from clearly defining the purpose of the practice, stakeholders involved, goals and objectives and ensuring the most effective use of resources available. Moreover, strategic plans foster a sense of ownership and pride in the practice and forms the foundation for establishing mechanisms to measure success. Attempting a strategic plan is a daunting task, especially when practices are caught in the cycle of ‘fire fighting’, meaning they are constantly reacting to problems. It is always difficult to find the time to stop and analyse what needs to be accomplished to make real, measured progress.  

 

Make friends with your budget.  Increased profit has a formula.

Creating a budget can always be a challenge but the benefits outweigh the initial work. Being cognisant with your budget also empowers you to evaluate your current bills, identify unnecessary expenses and remove those areas which stop you from achieving your KPIs. Budgeting and sound financial controls also allow practices to feel confident in determining client fees accurately and purchasing additional equipment or hiring new staff. It also gives you the power to determine, ‘if I purchase this endoscope I know I need to increase my consults per day to X’.   This is also extremely important information to share with Associates and allied staff, but practice owners often haven’t had the time to calculate these examples themselves. Unfortunately this means the practice team are not focused on their contribution to good financial management.

 

“Audit” the Team - Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for further contribution to the practice goals. They run your systems.

A strong, skilled and motivated team is not just an asset, but also your competitive advantage. The profession is full of team members with great potential, with the ability to offer more, learn more, and to be more to the profession. Your team often have ideas, answers and contributions to your yearly plan.  As your ‘eyes on the ground’ they can give you vital information on what has worked and what hasn’t. Consider conducting a ‘Training Needs Analysis’ on your team.  What skills and experience do each of them have and what areas for development do they need?  If you wish to see them take on more responsibilities then ensure you give them the tools to succeed.  Whatever the situation, investing in your people is a vital factor for practice success.

So in a nutshell, before practices can truly make sound business decisions, careful planning and thought must be given to the ‘Now, Where, How’ philosophy. Where am I now? Where do I want to go? How am I going to get there?  

 

Getting Started Today

So how do you start the process?  Try these planning tips.

  • Know where you stand NOW. Utilise practice programs such as Vision VPM to extract your data and do a ‘year in review’.
  • Prioritise time to do a budget. There are plenty of templates, programs and workshops which can assist you with this. 
  • Know where you want to go - set a WHERE target.  Liaise with your Associates and staff to do a SWOT analysis on your ideas and figures.  Your staff will be the key to driving your goals.
  • Spend quality time devising your HOW plan.  This process involves creating the steps required to walk towards success, who is responsible and timeframes for tasks.  If you wish to increase your average income per consult, you need to plan how it will be implemented, who will drive it and how the veterinarians will be trained to make it happen.  It is the same principle for staffing – if you need another nurse, consider how you are going to afford this additional salary. A good financial plan will determine which area of the business must step up. Being clear with the team in these areas also offers solutions whilst giving them their own key performance indicators.

As you head into 2013 consider the components to success for your practice.  What specifically MUST occur after the planning has been done?   Engage your team to contribute to your refocusing on the business. After all, it will be the staff that implement and drive your strategic plan.




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