Foundations for Your Growing Dental Group

Heidi Arndt, RDH, BSDH has worked in the dental field for 18+ years. Her experience ranges from working as a treatment coordinator, dental assistant, and practice manager before graduating from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. In 2011, Heidi founded Enhanced Hygiene. She is also the founder of Enhanced Practices.

By Heidi Arndt

It’s hard to accomplish anything without a plan. Whether you’re coaching a football team, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, or running a small business, you need a strategic plan.

A strategic plan looks at all the things your dental group could do and narrows it down to the things it is actually good at doing. A strategic plan also helps dental group leaders determine where to spend time, human capital, and money.

But, how should a new dental group approach strategic planning? There are hundreds of business books dedicated to the topic. We’ve read most of them. We put the others on our bookshelf just for show, and there are some that we have read and re-read because of the excellent tips it provides. Here are some quick steps we feel are essential to start your process.

Step 1: Where are you today? 
This is harder than is looks. Some people see themselves how they WANT to see themselves, not how they actually appear to others. Many small businesses get snared in this same trap.

For an accurate picture of where your business is, conduct external and internal audits to get a clear understanding of the marketplace, the competitive environment, and your organization’s competencies (your real – not perceived – competencies).

Step 2: Create a Mission Statement
Your Mission Statement is a statement about what your company actually does. It should be short and easy to memorize. A lot of companies get this wrong and end up using big fancy words that don’t tell us anything. Your mission statement should also be specific enough that people understand what you do and how it may differ from your competitors.

For example:

  • Public Broadcasting System (PBS): To create content that educates, informs and inspires.
  • Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
  • Make-A-Wish: We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

Shareholders, leaders and employees are generally the target of the mission. It should help workers within the organization know what decisions and tasks best align with the mission of the company. A mission statement offers insight into what company leaders view as the primary purpose for being in business. Some companies have profit-motivated missions, while others make customers a focal point. Other firms use a mission to point out more altruistic intentions that ultimately lead to profits.

Step 3:  What are your Core Values?
Your Core Values are what you believe in, what your team believes in and holds true.

Think of this as if your entire organization was hanging out on a bus together – your values would be how you treat each other on the bus.

Values are what you will use to hire the right people.  It is how you will allow, and expect, your team to show up every day.

Most dental groups have a list of Core Values, but how do you use them? How do you ensure your team is focused and acting on the core values?

Your core values need to be communicated and lived each day.

Core Values are behavioral, so they need to be part of your performance management system, reward team members for living out the values, and include your core values in staff meetings, morning huddles and everyday communication.

Step 4: Create a Vision Statement
This is what your company aspires to be; which can be much different than what a company is (mission statement). When done right, your vision statement can and should help drive decisions and goals in your company.

Your vision statement focuses on this question. “Where are you going”. What will your group look like in 3-5 years? What does success look like? What mountain are you climbing and why?

Here are some examples of some good vision statements:

  • Disney: To make people happy
  • Ford: To become the world’s leading Consumer Company for automotive products and services.
  • Avon: To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women – globally.

Your vision statement is your outcome: A picture of the future.

Where your organization is going? Your north star?

So, why is this all important?

Strategic Management Process: The development of vision and mission statements is an essential part of the strategic management process. Having clearly defined the vision and mission of the organization, you can set strategic objectives that are aligned with the company’s long-term goals. You will take and translate these strategic objectives into an operational strategy that can be implemented, monitored and evaluated. The outcome of the evaluation will determine whether any revision of the vision statement, mission statement, objectives or operational strategy is required.

Alignment: Well-written vision and mission statements ensure that each element of the strategic management process is aligned to the company’s long-term goals.

Managers use clear and concise vision and mission statements to communicate their aspirations to stakeholders. Employees understand where to focus their efforts if they align their daily work with the vision and mission.

Clear vision and mission statements allow doctors, staff, suppliers and shareholders to choose whether or not they want to do business with the company.

You may have a mission, vision and core values already established within your group. But the question remains, is it accurate and does our team know, understand and live it every day? If not, you need to go back to the steps above and ensure this is alive and well in your dental group.

If you are looking for assistance with developing your dental groups strategic plan. You can contact the team at Enhanced Practices to help guide the way.

Or contact Jennifer @ [email protected]