By Steve Vargo, OD, MBA
April 7, 2021
Do you have a desire for your practice to grow? Beyond a desire, do you have a plan?
Most of us are familiar with the concept of a “five-year growth plan.” In my work with independent optometrists, I find that many don’t have a specific plan for growth, and the ones who do often fail to reach their goals.
There are some common flaws and weaknesses in growth plans that I’ll address in this article. The three I’ll focus on are lack of urgency, prioritizing results over tactics and failure to involve your team.
Below I’ll break down these three areas by suggesting short-term goals that incrementally put you closer to your long-term goals, defining not just desired results but also the TACTICS that are necessary to make the results possible, and also how to engage your team in these efforts and hold everyone accountable.
Establish Urgency by Taking it 12 Weeks at a Time
In theory, a five-year growth plan sounds like a solid business strategy, but in reality it’s hard to stay focused on something so distant in the future. Let’s use the example of annual goals and bonuses. What frequently happens with annual goals is people either procrastinate taking action because they have an entire year to reach the goal, or people come out of the gate strong and then lose steam for the same reason.
While it’s good to have a long-term vision, a lack of urgency often keeps people and organizations stuck in the status quo. Efforts to make changes that drive results either don’t happen or don’t persist.
I suggest setting 12-week goals that align to the long-term vision. With 12 weeks, there’s not time to procrastinate.
Why 12 weeks and not “quarterly”? While similar in time frame, a weekly format allows you to break down the 12 weeks into weekly objectives and accountability meetings (discussed below). I prefer the concept of starting each week fresh with clear weekly objectives. Also, there’s no need to wait for the next quarter to start. You can start next Monday.
Focus on Tactics Over Results
Examples of a 12-week goal:
• Increase multiple-pair sales from 5 percent to 10 percent
• Increase annual supply contact lens sales from 40 percent to 60 percent
• Reactivate 50 patients
Notice the examples above are results. Tactics are where the magic happens. These are the things you are executing on that will drive results. Identify the top 1-3 actions (tactics) that will have the greatest impact on reaching the goal and pursue those with intensity.
• Mention a sunglass promotion to every patient
• Launch a marketing campaign with weekly social media posts
• Every week call 25 patients as part of a reactivation plan
It may be tempting to set numerous goals and/or tactics to reach the goals, but that often results in a lack of focus. In most endeavors there are many activities that help you accomplish your goal. However, there are usually a few core activities that account for the majority of the results. Focus on the minimum number of actions that are required to hit your goal. Key word: FOCUS!
Involve the Team
Overwhelmed practice owners will often say to me, “I can’t do this all by myself!” They are correct. Fortunately, if leveraged correctly, they’ll have the support of a team.
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If you want to see your five-year plan come to fruition, you absolutely need the help of your team. Driving growth in any organization requires leadership. For some leaders, that means clarifying the vision and then dictating everyone’s role to them.
You can try that, but in reality getting people to change is one of the more challenging responsibilities for people in leadership roles. You may be the boss, but people still like to feel involved, and as a rule people like to see their own ideas succeed.
So, instead of framing this as “my” five-year plan, make it “our” five-year plan. Invite the input and ideas of those on your team. When everyone is aligned on a strategy, then make sure everyone is held accountable.
Start having weekly accountability meetings where individual employees or departments are required to provide the rest of the organization with a status update.
The best definition I ever heard for accountability was “getting people to perform in a way in which they know in advance they’ll have to account for their performance at a later date.”
Since people won’t want to keep admitting to their failures, they’re not only more likely to follow through with their responsibilities, but also want to demonstrate that they’ve been successful.
As a final thought, don’t let perfect become the enemy of very good. If you’re not making as much progress as you anticipated, talk with your team about potential reasons and make adjustments.
Hopefully, five years down the road you’ll be celebrating with this very team because your vision, I mean “our” vision, became reality – 12 weeks at a time.
If you’d like a guide with more detail on how to create your own 12-week goal, just e-mail me at Svargo@idoc.net.
Steve Vargo, OD, MBA, is a practice consultant, speaker and author. His latest book is “Prescribing Change: How to Make Connections, Influence Decisions and Get Patients to Buy into Change.” To contact him: SVargo@idoc.net