17 May 2017  •  Practice Management  •  7min read

The benefits of having a clear vision for your practice

Imagine for a moment that you’re going on holiday. Your bags are packed and the big day has finally arrived. Excitedly, you step outside of your front door and then, out of the blue, a worrying thought hits you…..you don’t know where you’re going!

Not only do you not know where you’re going, you have no idea what type of holiday you’re going on, so you don’t even know whether you’ve packed the right things or not. You could have a suitcase full of beachwear for what turns out to be a skiing holiday.

Do you think you’d ever do this in real life? No, of course you wouldn’t.

 Your holiday planning starts with a clear picture of where you want to go and what you’d like to do when you get there. It’s these things that drive all of your other actions – what flights to book, what clothes to pack, the accommodation you choose, etc. In other words, you start at the end and work your way back.

It’s the big picture that drives and influences the actions you take and the decisions you make. It’s so obvious; most of us wouldn’t give it a second thought or contemplate doing it any other way.

Yet, transfer the scenario to business and the outlook is markedly different. Every business is on a journey – from the present to the future- from the present to the future- from where they are now to where they want to be. Yet, ask most business owners if they have a clear picture of what that place looks like and you tend to get an answer that is vague at best. And if it’s vague to the business owner, think what it’s like for the staff, trying to do their best on a day-to-day basis but with no direction as to where the practice is going.

Many practice owners get frustrated because they feel some members of their team are not performing to their full potential. Without a clear vision and consistent leadership, you have to ask whose fault that really is!

Vision is an overused and misunderstood word in business. It’s a subject that the world’s best business gurus have dedicated many pages of their best selling books to, but still the message stubbornly refuses to get through. So let’s distill it down to the absolute bare bones with a very simple question…

If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you effectively plan to get there? Answer: you can’t.

 So, now is the time to really think about the future of your practice. To create a clear vision and a structured plan for the future that you can communicate to your team. They’ll thank you for it and once they’re on board, the results will be real and measurable. We’ve got a very simple model to get you going. If you follow it, you will create an effective and robust plan for the future… what have you got to lose?

Creating a strong, exciting and graphic vision for the future of your practice that is well communicated and continually reinforced, provides you with a number of tangible benefits.
  1. It engages your team and provides a clear purpose for the things that they do on a day-to-day basis. An engaged and energised team will always, ALWAYS perform at a higher level than one that is not. Win!
  2.   It provides you with a solid framework on which to lead and manage your practice more effectively, because you can provide clearer and more consistent direction to your team. Win!
  3.  Communicating your vision to your patients will take them with you on your journey, resulting in a better-informed, more loyal customer base. Win!
  4. Measurable goals add structure to your vision. Once these are in place, you can measure and monitor your progress every step of the way, helping you identify issues sooner. It’s also a driver for you to challenge the status quo and find different and better ways of doing things. Win!
So, if you don’t have a clear vision for the future of your practice, make it your priority to create one.

When you do, make your vision as detailed as you possibly can- the more detail there is, the more real and believable it becomes. And once it’s created and crystallised in your mind – communicate it to your team in all its Technicolor glory!

Explain what role they each have in making it happen and what the collective benefits will be to you, the practice, the patients and to the team if they help you to get there.

Simple steps to success

Below is a very simple model that you can really use to help you create and implement your vision and plan for the future. It’s easy….REALLY! Just get stuck in. And once that vision becomes a reality? Well, you can think about that holiday you’ve been planning!


Where do you want to be?

This is where it all begins. Choose a time in the future – but not too far in the future. Say, two or three years, you decide. Now, close your eyes and imagine for a minute that you’ve transported yourself to that time. As you open your eyes, you see your practice exactly as you want it to be. The décor, the patients, the staff, the culture, the business results – it’s real, it’s happening and you’re watching it.

Strategic Goals

What needs to happen to get you there?

So, now you’ve got a really clear picture of where you want to be in the future. Now you need some ways of measuring the journey from where you are now to that place in the future. That’s where strategic goals come in. So, the question to ask yourself is this: If your vision has become reality, what’s happened?

You might come up with answers such as .. we’ve doubled our turnover, we’ve gone fully private and moved away from the NHS, we’ve added an additional surgery, we’ve introduced new treatments that are adding ‘x’ amount to our income, or we have x% more patients. Take these things back to today, and they become your goals for the next two or three years. Simple!

Strategic Plans

How are you going to make it happen?

This is where the ideas kick off. You know where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there. The question now, is ‘how?’. Think about that new surgery – is it an existing room, is it an extension? Those new treatments – have you been on a course, have you employed other dentists with those skills or do you have a visiting specialist? This is where you formulate those plans and make those decisions.

Actions and Tasks

What happens today and tomorrow and the day after?

Having made those strategic decisions, it’s now all about implementation. You’ve decided that the new surgery will be an extension to the building, which means you need to speak to an architect and draw up some plans – who is going to make the call and book that meeting? You also need to engage a company to fit it out – who is researching the companies that do this? Delegation and team involvement, that’s what it’s all about now.


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