Every year at this time, I will have already taken the time to create a vision for the next year, set goals, reviewed my staff, and gotten consensus in our effort to make this year 30% better than last year. I wanted to show you one simple tool that you can use to insure that the entire staff is on the same page, while mapping out your strategy in a way that reinforces your original decision to “go for it” in the first place.
Before you go any further, I want you to go out and buy a Mylar “Year at a Glance” calendar (27×33 inches) and some dry erase and permanent markers in various colors. We are going to need this in order to put feet to our visions and goals. Once you get back to the office, I want you to find a place to put up the calendar so that the staff can see it several times a day (staff lounge, kitchen?).
Next, I want you to look at all of the next year and take a permanent marker in Red and place an X over every day that you have a permanent holiday: Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Memorial Day. If there are any more, mark those too. The idea is to put an X on all of the days that you for sure will not be working. Doing this will help you instantly see the holidays that are coming up and how they might affect production, scheduling, or planning some project for the office.
Next, take a different color and mark in or reserve time for continuing education for you in order to make the requirement for your State Board. Maybe use Blue but use a dry erase color so that you can alter it if something comes up.
After that, take a different color and have each staff member over the next couple of weeks decide on vacation time and mark that in dry erase markers of a different color. This will avoid having vacations pop up that ruin your schedule or make it hard to be open. I would keep in mind that there are times that would be best for vacations. I would try and pick months that are typically low in total production. You will find that you can do in three weeks what you normally take four to do in low producing months (September to the middle of October, and June). I would never take more than a week at one time and I would even consider doing a week that hits the end of one month and the first of the next so that we are only affecting any one month a total of 2-3 days. If there are going to be a few three or four-day weekends, mark those. It might even be a good time to consider all of the bad habits you have adopted over the years, and undo them. Possibly consider changing the days you work to make them more consumer friendly.
Finally pick another dry erase color and post any marketing that you do weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. We need to think about our marketing outreach as a yearly strategy with a monthly average expenditure of at least 3-5% of our collections. As the dollar amount that the 3-5% represents goes up as our production goes up, we will add other marketing that will be stacked on top of what you are currently doing. All of this needs to be on the calendar.
I even make notes about important dates for taxes, deadlines, goal, etc. We want to engineer our year in a very visual way so that as the staff sees this throughout the year, we are actually programing their subconscious to prepare for these dates. We have no surprises and no missed deadlines. Nothing gets put on the back burner and we are always proactive about what is coming up. Be creative but get this up and going right away. Time really does fly!
Michael Abernathy, DDS