Before COVID-19, the concept of strategic planning was typically focused on a five-year time horizon. Before March, strategic planning began with the question, “Where do you want to be in five years?” That question is difficult enough to contemplate. Well now an even more difficult question sits in front of us: “Where will we be in five MONTHS?” That question is more important than any other as it regards your practice. Where will you be in five months and how will you get there?
The traditional purpose of strategic planning is to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a practice and then use that information to determine what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how it needs to be done to ensure a successful future. In the face of the challenges posed by our current situation with COVID-19 we must approach strategic planning in a new way. It needs to be simple to understand and focused on only four key areas that are critical to survival and recovery.
The 1-page COVID-19 strategic recovery plan
As we continue to move through the COVID-19 crisis it is essential that you begin to give some thought to the recovery phase. Practices that have thought ahead and have a plan will recover faster and better.
One activity that can be greatly beneficial is to create a 1-Page COVID-19 Strategic Recovery Plan. This may sound simple, but it will take hard work, thinking and multiple revisions. But it will also set you on a course of recovery that will help you to bounce back from where we are today.
Here is how the plan works:
1. Take a piece of paper and break it up into four quadrants. The quadrants will each represent a strategic category. The categories should be:
2. Under each category list three, and no more than four, key value-based strategies. Anything that goes on the page as a strategy must directly contribute to recovery. Anything that does not directly contribute to recovery is a distraction. As a leader during this time you cannot afford distractions once your practice reopens and is back to more normal operations. One purpose of the plan is to keep you focused and eliminate distractions.
You also want to be sure that the strategies you select are value-based. Select the most important and impactful strategies you possibly can. For example, calling patients who are three or more years overdue for appointments will yield very minor results and have diminishing returns. Contacting patients as soon as possible who missed appointments during the crisis or are overdue by one or two years will have high impact. That is what is meant by selecting value-based strategies.
3. Write a goal at the bottom of each category. For example, under the financial category the goal might be to “increase monthly average revenue by $25,000 between June and December 2020.” This goal would hypothetically allow a practice to make up over a six-month period, a percentage of revenue lost during any practice shutdown related to this crisis. Other examples of recovery plan goals might be:
Offer expanded hours (evenings and weekends) to allow patients who have exhausted all their time off and need to schedule outside of normal office hours. This would allow the practice to catch up with missed appointments much faster.
Cross train all team members for at least one other position responsibility. This will allow you to best cover any extra hours you might need, as well as be better prepared should the virus disrupt our lives again in the near future.
- Accumulate cash. It almost goes without saying, but access to cash allows any practice to recover faster from any emergency situation.
- Streamline all systems for maximum efficiency. Efficiency is always important, but successful and rapid recovery from this downturn will require practices to be hyper-efficient.
Select a very specific and measurable goal for each category that will allow you to know whether you are achieving the plan once you are back in the office and operational.
4. Measure each of the value-based strategies consistently, often and clearly. Look at your 1-Page Plan every day once you feel you have completed it and are ready to enact. Always put a copy of it on your desk and keep a copy of it with you.
This is the plan that’s going to help you recover.
Many people believe that strategic planning is the single most critical activity that takes place in a business each year. It’s not about today and it’s not about this year‘s budget. It’s about the future, and as dentistry (and society) changes coming out of this crisis, strategic planning is more important than ever before. Once the correct strategies are identified and you stay 100% focused on achieving your goals, your odds of recovering more quickly increase tremendously.
About the author
Roger P. Levin, D.D.S. is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.