When Is the Last Time You Had Your (Practice) Vision Checked?

  • by Eric Jackson, DDS, MAGD, FICOI, FICD, FADI
  • May 24, 2019, 12:52 PM
As dentists, our eyes and ocular health are immensely important.We protect, maintain and even enhance our vision chair-side with loupes and microscopes.Vision is so closely linked to our livelihoods that, if our vision were to falter, we would likely make it a priority to address. But can the same be said about your vision for your dental practice? I hope so because, as a business owner,your philosophical vision for your practice is just as important as your actual vision.

Dental education has traditionally had one monumental pitfall —it is designed to create dentists, not small business owners.Minimal, if any, business classes are included in traditional dental curriculum.While this may be slowly changing — and every bit of change is welcome in my book — it will certainly never be equal to a bachelor’s degree in business training.In lieu of this comprehensive education, we dentists must absorb as much as possible from the business world and apply it to our practices and professional lives in order to be successful.

One concept crucial to businesses both big and small is having a vision statement.A vision statement is a multifaceted concept, but, at its core, it can be viewed as the hopes and dreams of a business entity.This is not a static document.Rather, it is an ever-evolving map of your practice’s future.Your vision statement can reflect your long-term goals, or, in a more traditional approach,it can reflect the next three to five years of the practice’s future.It’s completely up to you.Your vision statement should reflect not only your present practice but also what you want it to become. A vision statement will help you chart the best way to get to your destination and navigate any obstacles between your present and your future.It’s always easier to walk toward a destination if the path is illuminated rather than hoping you reach it by blindly groping around in the dark.A vision statement helps illuminate your path —think of it as your practice’s headlights!

When composing or revising your vision statement, there are numerous aspects to consider.One of the largest of these aspects is “target clientele.”Perhaps your practice is located in the heart of commerce and caters to busy business professionals, or perhaps your practice caters to the baby boomer generation.The target clientele of my suburban practice is family-oriented. A target clientele is an essential aspect to identify, as it shapes not only your vision statement but also day-to-day aspects such as office layout, décor and hours of operation.Much like your vision statement, your target clientele can change.Practices evolve.Neighborhoods evolve.Practitioners evolve.Where are you in your evolution?What does the short- and long-term future hold for you and your location?Only you can be the judge of that!

Additionally, don’t feel limited to one practice-wide vision statement.In business, individual departments often have their own vision statements set within the framework of the company-wide vision statement.I encourage you to do the same.Consider a sub-vision statement for each department within your dental practice.Meet with your team, either as a whole or as individual departments, and brainstorm.If you want to take the vision statement concept even further, you may suggest that everyone in the practice contemplate and create his or her own personal vision statement.These can be shared with staff, but I wouldn’t force it. Taking personal inventory of oneself and planning one’s future can be a very personal endeavor — one that team members should certainly complete but not be forced to divulge.  

If you haven’t contemplated your dental practice’s vision statement recently, I encourage you to take this opportunity to do so. Perhaps you’re on the same course you were the last time you reevaluated the statement. Perhaps you’re not. Don’t rush the process, but don’t drag it out either. It’s better to revise an existing vision statement than to flounder forever while looking for the perfect verbiage. Finally, I encourage you to conduct your own research into the business world. Fill in the rather large gaps in business training traditionally left by dental education by delving into countless resources online. Vision statements are just one of many valuable aspects of business management that dentists can implement for improved practice success. I wish you all the best!
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