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December 16, 2009
By Brandi MacDonald

December tends to be a “winding down” month for many practices –
patients begin taking holidays, people fall off their “normal” routines
– so I realize it may appear counterintuitive to be planning for 2010
at this time. But, because of all this activity, this is the time of
year that teams should get together and look ahead:

December tends to be a “winding down” month for many practices – patients begin taking holidays, people fall off their “normal” routines – so I realize it may appear counterintuitive to be planning for 2010 at this time. But, because of all this activity, this is the time of year that teams should get together and look ahead: before we know it, we will need to wind our practices back up again for the New Year. So, if you can leverage this time more efficiently, January can start off with a “big bang” for your business.

CHAE

There are really two general areas to plan for in our particular business, when looking to the coming year. One is our marketing plan and the other is our staffing plan. In my experience, many offices have neither of these. So, in a time of crisis, when a practice finds itself in need of either a marketing plan or a staffing plan, these get developed on a whim. But “on a whim” planning is directly related to an “on a whim” business, whereas well thought out, advanced planning, with measurable outcomes, is directly related to a successful business.

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DEVELOPING YOUR PLANS
Developing your 2010 marketing plan with your team is a great place to start. There have been many articles in Canadian Chiropractor magazine over the last year about how to do this and I would encourage you to explore some of these strategies with your teams.

For instance, monthly marketing strategies should be developed for your practice. What activities will you do every month, both externally and internally? What role do your chiropractic heath assistants (CHAs) have in each of these activities? Incorporate timelines and goals for each strategy and hang up a big year-long calendar in your offices, or staff rooms, that is accessible to everyone. The more everyone is on the same page, the more likely you are to meet your business and practice goals for 2010. I have written previously about the power of symbiosis when writing goals, leveraging your human resource capital more to help your practice grow and continuing to improve your customer service and patient-centred care for 2010.

Developing your staffing plan for 2010 is as critical as developing your marketing plan. I have written extensively on this subject, because of my passion to retain the great CHAs we have in our businesses. Personal and professional goals for your CHAs should be reviewed from 2009, and recommitted and reset for 2010. What do they want to learn and improve over the next year? If performance reviews weren’t done in the last year, this is a great time to do them with your teams.

I want to clarify that these goals are not New Year’s resolutions. One of the reasons resolutions have such a small success rate is they are not set with a clear intention or timeline, and they are not strategically laid out. Goals must be measurable and observable and actionable! The clearer our goals are, the more likely we are to meet them. Setting goals under key areas – such as patient interaction, chiropractic knowledge and office administration – are vital. This sets some direction for the meeting you organize with your staff and improves the necessary clarity of outcomes.

THE YEAR-IN-REVIEW MEETING
When we sit with our staff, we want to not only mention the areas for improvement and any professional development needs or plans for them in 2010, we also want to acknowledge all the successes from 2009, and build on these for the next year. Holding a year-in-review meeting with your teams is a great idea! What were the big practice successes over 2009? Why were they successful? What did each team member do to assist in the successes? Often, in our practices, we don’t autopsy our success enough – we tend to focus primarily on what we should improve on. If we can break down our successes into action points, we can re-create these successes again and again. If we don’t analyze these, we tend to run the risk of “reinventing” the wheel every year in our business, and this can be exhausting. So we need to balance the activities that brought successes with the areas that need improvement.

The television show 60 Minutes interviewed Tiger Woods about his extraordinary success in golf. I found his comment regarding his skill thought-provoking and relevant to all of us. He stated he would “never arrive, but that “it was in the process of improvement and practice” that he had the most fun. In our chiropractic practices, we may never fully arrive, but, in this process of planning, practising, goal-setting, and this atmosphere of team community, we can have the most fun!

I wish all of you continued success in 2010! •


Brandi MacDonald and her husband, Dr. Don MacDonald, have a high-volume, wellness-focused chiropractic office, called Southside Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, in Edmonton, Alberta. Brandi is a Team teacher for Parker Seminars,  an author and owner of True Concepts, Inc. – a business which provides a coaching program for chiropractic practices. She can be reached at info@brandimaconald.com or www.brandimacdonald.com .


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