As a dentist, you probably began your career with a focus on teaching oral hygiene tips, providing exams and treatments, and generally seeing to the care of dental patients. Other early goals may have included starting or joining a welcoming dental practice and finding a friendly dental team to work with.
The growth and financial health of a dental practice go beyond delivering beautiful smiles, though. From a business standpoint, a dental practice’s team members need to plan and implement goals that bring in new customers while retaining current patients. If your dental hygienists do not have a foundation in how to plan SMART Goals, your dental practice may stagnate or slow.
SMART Goals have earned widespread use by leaders and innovators across nearly every job sector imaginable. The time-tested approach is proven to work, and it can provide important insights into how to help your dental hygienists plan.
Having specific goals keeps your head out of the clouds so you can implement practical policies and steps into your daily work. For example, are your dental hygienists keeping up with the latest in dental technology?
Just because your dental practice doesn’t use laser treatments or 3D scanners doesn’t mean that it won’t in the future. Specific goals may include attending dental workshops, ordering dental magazines, or finding another way to further dental hygiene continuing education.
Are you taking advantage of your personal interactions with patients to mention cosmetic or restorative services the patient may need or want? Patient referrals are another important topic that you can mention. There are easy ways to remind patients to consider treatments without coming off as pushy.
SMART Goals are measurable. Whether your goals are to increase patient cleanings or referrals, be sure to set goals and timelines that are realistic and attainable. Without measurable benchmarks, you will never know when you have reached your goals.
Setting goals that are not realistically achievable can lead to frustration and wasted time. For example, if your goal is to increase patient visits for cleaning and exams, start with an understanding of what percentage of patients currently visit twice a year.
If only half of your patients schedule regular cleanings, you can realistically set a goal to increase that number by 20% or 25% over a year. One way to meet that goal is to remember to schedule return visits before the patient leaves rather than trying to get a hold of him or her months later.
In most cases, even a 10% jump in one area over the course of a year can represent a considerable improvement. If you oversee a team of dental hygienists, make sure they are informed, supported, and rewarded as they work to achieve these goals.
Ensuring that your SMART Goals are in line with your dental practice’s overall goals and mission will ensure that any changes do not come off as forced or out of place in the eyes of your patients. Common questions you may ask include:
Set a timeline and track your progress. If your goal is to increase the total number of patients at your practice by 10% over the course of one year, checking to see if you have increased patient numbers by 5% at the six-month mark would be smart. This is especially important when measuring your dental KPIs.
SMART Goals work best when other members of your dental team are on board. Goals should be customized to meet the unique needs and goals of your practice. Before beginning, discuss what long-term goals your practice would like to attain, both in the short term and long term.
Achieving goals takes time and patience. Expect periodic setbacks. There may be days or even weeks when just getting through patient workflow can take all of your time and energy. Life is what happens in between planning and meeting benchmarks, so take time to celebrate every small victory along the way.