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Military Planning Procedure For Your Dental Practice Marketing

Jul 14, 2008
With 2008 half-way over, it is time to start planning for 2009. Planning in any business is an essential function that all too many times gets overlooked. Lack of planning leads to playing defense for a whole year and being reactive, not proactive in your success.

Think about it this way: When you go into a dental procedure, you have all your tools laid out on the tray ready to go. Why not start the year with all your marketing tools laid out ready to go, and knowing exactly when you want and need to use them?

In my four years as an active duty Marine, I learned time and time again that planning would lead to success. We even had a saying "proper prior planning prevents poor performance," and we were given an acronym, B.A.M.C.I.S., to help plan missions...

B.A.M.C.I.S. (pronounced bam-sis) has to do with leading Marines on the battlefield and is used to plan for every mission. B.A.M.C.I.S. stands for Begin the planning, Arrange for reconnaissance, Make reconnaissance, Complete the plan, Issue the order, and Supervise. These simple six steps apply to any task or operation you will take on...

Before you start the B.A.M.C.I.S. process, you will need a mission. For the sake of example, your goal or mission is to increase gross revenue by 10% in 2009. It's a little vague, but it will work for our purposes. Now, let's go step by step through the B.A.M.C.I.S. process...

1. Begin the planning: The first step is actually beginning the planning (duh). You will approach your goal, and figure out the methods to best accomplish it. In this case, to increase your gross revenues by 10%, you can either find new patients, or, you can do more dentistry on your current patients, or a combination of both...

Also, you need to do is take a quick inventory of your available resources like staff, equipment, and old marketing (brochures, business cards, etc). This will let you know what you can include in your plan, and will help in the next step...

2. Arrange For Reconnaissance: In the second step you arrange for your information gathering. In the Marines, this may include requesting maps, video surveillance, or even planning another mission to gather information on the terrain and enemy positions...

For your practice, it means taking an information inventory. Do you have production reports and patient reports by month for 2007 and 2008 to date? Where do you find marketing results? What do you need to do to get those reports? Gather as much information on the last 12 months as possible, and then move on to the next step. Check also with local government, competitors, and local media to see what events are coming (Wal-mart, parades, dentist down the street retiring)...

3. Make Reconnaissance: Now that you have all of your information, you have to sort through it. Figure out your worst month and your best month, what marketing was out those months, and how many new patients resulted from the marketing. What is coming up this next year (anniversaries, trade shows, community events)? This is an information finding step, not a planning step. If there are months where incomplete data was kept, recreate those months in this step...

Create your 2007-08 report with all the numbers you need for 2009. Include production by month, new patient flow, cancelled appointments, average production per patient, new and current, and completed treatment plans. These numbers will all be great when it comes to the next step. Many times your practice management software can pull these numbers just by clicking the mouse a few times...

4. Complete the Plan: Now, apply all of the information you have gathered and create your plan. Take your monthly reports and use them to figure out when to up your marketing. If you know July is slow, pump up the marketing in June. If there is a big anniversary for your practice in the summer, plan a patient event...

Hint: Use reverse planning. If you need patients calling by August 1st, subtract 3 days for mailing, 5 days for fulfillment, and 5 days for printing. If you want calls in your office on August 1st, you need to have the project to the printer by July 14th at the latest. Plan all marketing projects like this. If you need patients on August 1st, July 30th is not the time to start the project...

Don't forget a contingency plan for emergencies... flood, fire, theft, etc. These things happen, and it helps if there is a plan just in case they do...

5. Issue The Order: Have a meeting and lay out your plan to your team. This serves as an "order" for them, to let them know exactly who, what, when, where, and why you are doing this. Make sure to leave out no details. If Jane at the front desk needs to be in charge of postage purchasing, tell her how many stamps you need and when to get them. Lay out the year for them, so there will be no surprises when you announce the need to sign Thanksgiving cards for your patients...

Then, in your daily/weekly huddles, you can lay out what needs to happen that week/day. Who needs to call the marketing company? Who is working on the copy for the newsletter, and deadlines for each project? This goes back to reverse planning. Give yourself and your team notice of any problems, and what you need to do to get them handled. How do you know when there are problems? Check the next step...

Supervise: I cannot stress this enough. Supervising is the most important step to your planning since the plan is useless without implementation. This does not mean just supervising people, but also processes, situations, and external vendors. This allows you to know if things are going according to the plan, as well as when to take action steps to fix a problem. Look over your weekly plan and make sure things are on time, what needs to be ready for next week, and who is in charge of doing what. Do not micro-manage this step. Trust your staff and external vendors to get things done (they should be trustworthy, you hired them)...

If there is a problem, use another military acronym, OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act). As you supervise or observe the implementation of your plan, you will notice problems here and there. Orient yourself to these problems. What needs to be adjusted or changed? Make a swift, firm decision, keeping the mission in mind, and acting on that decision. The Marine saying is, the quicker you act, the less time the opposition has to prepare defense...

If you supervise correctly, you will catch all problems early. This makes them easier to solve, and makes certain they have less effect on your mission. Rather than walls, they appear more as speed bumps. There are few problems that prior planning could not resolve...

Planning can and will help your practice run smoother. It is often ignored in business today, and comes to haunt many business owners. If you lay out a proper plan using the information you have gathered over the last year, you will surely create a smoother running practice. Remember, proper prior planning prevents poor performance.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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