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Dynamic Chiropractic – January 1, 2012, Vol. 30, Issue 01
Dynamic Chiropractic
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Dynamic Chiropractic

Practice Resolutions for the New Year

By Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC

The overwhelming majority of New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside before January is over and most won't be remembered six months later. The reason is simple: most are made in response to something negative – a habit or situation that you want to change or end.

Therein lies the problem: It's difficult to develop momentum from a negative response. It is always easier to move toward rather than away from something. Make this year different by resolving to begin by clarifying your practice vision. There is no more important single factor to the success of your practice than a clear, crisp, shared vision.

Resolve to Have a Big Vision

Your practice vision is the idea you have of the impact you would like your practice to make on the world around you. A compelling vision helps you pursue dreams and achieve goals. A vision that is clear opens your mind to the endless possibilities of the future. Vision and strategy are both important; but there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. If you have a clear vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you don't have a clear vision, no strategy will help you.

new year resolutions - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Many examples of the power of a clear vision can be found in the speeches of our political leaders. In 1962, John F. Kennedy had a vision to put a man on the moon that was so strong that it outlived him. In 1987, Ronald Reagan's exclamation in front of the Berlin Wall, "Tear down this wall!" embodied his vision for a post-Cold War world and accelerated the collapse of the Soviet Union. The world of business is filled with examples of the transformative power of vision. A look at the business models of Facebook, Netflix and Apple reveals companies whose visions changed how we live. How will your practice impact the lives of the patients you will serve in the year ahead?

Many chiropractors have a vision for their practice that falls short of their fullest potential. This year, I challenge you to raise your game and have a bigger vision. The "act as if" principle states that if you think big and act big, you will be big. It all begins with your vision. Once you've set your vision for the new year, I suggest adding the following resolutions to your list to help make this year your biggest and best ever.

Resolve to Have a Great Communication System

Communication is the lifeblood of your practice. Without a consistently good communication system, even the clearest vision will get muddled and the best intended resolutions will fail. Resolve to hold a "team huddle" at the start of each practice day. This single action step can dramatically improve your practice communication system and accelerate your success. A team huddle is a 10-minute standing meeting that is attended by all team members. It is about creating energy by sharing your vision and acknowledging the accomplishments of your team members. It focuses everyone on the top priorities of the day, identifies any roadblocks in the way of their accomplishment, and improves the effectiveness of your entire team.

Once you have made the team huddle part of your daily practice routine, the next step is to add a more extensive team meeting on a weekly basis. These well-planned, 30-minute weekly meetings will provide a communication outlet that aligns your team members in a shared understanding of each individual's activities and needs in the context of your overall practice goals. Weekly meetings provide a structured opportunity for innovation and creative brainstorming while building team spirit. What can you do as a leader to get your team to show up to meetings ready to participate with the right attitude? The answer is simple – make your meetings fun!

Resolve to Invest in Your Practice Culture

A practice culture is the term used to describe the beliefs and values that give each practice its own unique style and attitude. Practices of all sizes posses some type of culture, in that every practice has a set of values and goals that help to define what the practice is all about. As the owner of your practice, you are its CEO – chief energizing officer. It's up to you to be sure that as your practice grows, it also becomes more fun and rewarding for both you and your team members to invest your efforts and energies in.

Author John P. Kotter published a study on the importance of culture in business. He found that companies that managed their cultures well had a 756- percent increase in net revenue! Many successful companies serve as examples of extraordinary cultures. Sam Walton created a lasting culture of customer service at Walmart that can be found in the company's motto: "I solemnly swear to smile and greet the customer every time a customer is within 10 feet of me."

Employees at the luxury hotel chain Ritz Carlton carry a card with the company credo printed on it: "Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen." The culture of employee empowerment is so strong at Ritz Carlton that every employee, including the parking valets, can make up to a $2,000 decision in the favor of the customer at any time. And Nordstrom, the chain of department stores known for outstanding customer service, has one rule: "Use your best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules." This year, resolve to cultivate a practice culture based upon your highest values.

Resolve to Track Your Key Performance Indicators

Work on your practice and not just in your practice. We've all heard it, but many practice owners forget to implement it. When you get caught up in the day-to-day happenings of your practice, you can't grow it. Resolve to spend more time working on your practice this year and you'll move it forward. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are also referred to as practice statistics. I am always amazed at how reticent many chiropractors are to measure and monitor their KPIs. Show me a practice that doesn't track its key numbers and I'll show you a practice headed for trouble. What gets measured gets managed. The collection and reporting of your KPIs is vital to your success.

If you are not sure which KPI would have the greatest impact on your success, begin with the end in mind and then build your plan backward. Determine the level of income you would like to generate in the next 12 months and work backward. The number of new patients you attract, how long they stay with your practice, and the value of each office visit are all among the KPI variables in this equation. Ask your team, "If there is one area we could improve in over the next six to 12 months that would dramatically impact our practice, what would that one thing be?" This is your top-priority KPI – start with it before you move on to the rest.

Resolve to Improve Through Continuous Learning

This promises to be a year of unprecedented change in health care. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), electronic health records, and other regulatory changes in HIPAA, coding and compliance require your serious commitment to keep up with the change curve. Attend conferences with your practice team members to improve your patient management, documentation and practice management skills. You can also learn a tremendous amount by visiting your competitors. Remember, your competition is not limited to the other chiropractors in your community. It includes everywhere your patients spend their health care dollars.

Savvy businesses measure something called wallet share. This is the percentage of their customers' business they are capturing. How much are you missing by not offering your patients products and services that they are purchasing elsewhere? You can find out by asking them. It's also a great idea to look outside of your industry for inspiration and examples of innovation and exceptional service.

Finally, make this the year you assemble and leverage an advisory board for your practice. Be sure that your board includes at least one business counselor or coach who has travelled the path you are on. Meeting regularly with these trusted advisors can be your best source for professional development and practice growth in 2012 and beyond.


Dr. Mark Sanna, a 1987 graduate of New York Chiropractic College, is a member of the ACA Governor's Advisory Board and a member of the President's Circle of NYCC and Parker College of Chiropractic. He is the president and CEO of Breakthrough Coaching (www.mybreakthrough.com).

Dynamic Chiropractic

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