I accept that measuring your financial figures or other key performance indicators (KPIs) may not be the thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning. And it probably isn’t the reason you chose to open a dental practice. But it is vitally important for the success of your practice.
Why bother measuring business performance
Taking the time to regularly monitor your KPIs will help to give you control over what is happening in your practice. By measuring those business fundamentals – your income, expenditure, number of new patients, etc – you can easily see what areas are doing well, what might need some extra attention, and have clear sight of whether you are going in the right direction to reach your goals.
Not only will this improve your financial performance, but – just as importantly – it will also make the whole process of managing your practice and driving it forward, much less stressful. The more information you have at your fingertips, the more in control you will feel and the calmer you will be.
Where do I start?
- Deciding what to measure – To make sure that you’re measuring the right things that will make the most difference to your practice, you need to think about where you want to be in a few years’ time. If your goal is to become a high-end specialist practice, those things will be different compared to if you were planning to become a referral centre or family-focused general practice. You can use your measurements to check your progression towards your goal and ensure you stay on track and take action when you need to.
- Begin with the basics – If you’re new to this, then start small. Use an Excel spreadsheet, or even pen and paper or a whiteboard, and choose one relatively easy factor to measure, e.g. new patient enquiries. Tracking where your enquiries come from can help you to see which marketing approach is working well and also what your conversion rate is, i.e. how many become paying patients. This can help you know where best to direct your marketing efforts and whether you need to invest in any extra training to turn enquiries into patients.
- Check if your software provider can help – Many practice management software providers have built-in information reports that could provide you with everything you need, and it could be as simple as exporting the data from there. If you’re unsure if your software has this capability, it could be worthwhile asking your provider and potentially having some training in how to create the reports – it could end up saving you time and effort.
- Involve the whole team in analysing the data – Once you have started measuring certain factors, utilise everyone in the practice in understanding what they mean for the business and what the appropriate action may be. It can be useful to gather the team for a meeting to discuss what the information is suggesting. Those who are a bit closer to the action, for example front desk staff, may have more of an understanding than the practice owner/dentist about why telephone enquiries don’t turn into appointments. Taking a team approach will also help to involve everyone, which means they will feel more motivated to engage with any resulting action.
Whilst measurement may not be as exciting as delivering quality patient care, it is crucial to staying calm, controlled and heading in the right direction. It’s difficult when you’re busy with the day-to-day running of the practice but it is worthwhile carving out some time specifically to get started and then establish the habit of regularly monitoring the key factors for your business.