Analyse Your Practice In 12 Steps!

Part of my brief in Breathe is to analyse the practices of new or existing clients in order to help the owners establish their key objectives. Very often, these objectives are about growing their practice or about rescuing the owner from long hours and falling profits.

It’s definitely not going to be a barbecue Easter so, instead of watching bad TV and eating too much chocolate, why not try the Breathe 12 Step Practice Analysis Template. This, I promise, will help you establish your key objectives when you return to work after the Easter break.

Step One. Your Practice History:

Of course you know this already, however, sometimes it will have a strong bearing on the way you do things now. Because of your history, you may be hanging onto: People, Signage, Clinical Equipment and Facilities, Opening Hours, Practice Manager, Associates, Hygienists, NHS Contracts etc… Ask yourself, if you were starting your practice from scratch, what would you do differently? Make a list. You are not a slave to your history! Dental Practice is changing fast and so must you! (Don’t get involved in how you would do it differently, just list what you would do differently…)


Step Two. Your 2013 Objectives:

Remind yourself of your key objectives for 2013. While you’re at it, quickly review your progress against these objectives. If it’s slow, what’s stopping you, what are your roadblocks? If you didn’t get around to creating your key objectives for 2013, now’s a good time to do it. What are the three things, that if you got them done in 2013, would make the biggest difference to your practice?


Step Three. Your Practice Proposition:

In a nutshell, how would you describe what your practice does and why should people come to your practice? Please don’t tell yourself that it’s “Quality dentistry in a relaxing environment with state of the art equipment,.” You can do so much better than this tired old cliche! What is it that you and your team do better than your competitors? This differentiates your practice from your competitive set. It’s essential that you can articulate this and it’s really important that you don’t spend any time or money on marketing until you know what your proposition is.


Step Four. Your Practice Financials:

Dig out your last three P+L accounts, what are the trends for turnover and profits. Up, down or flat lining? How are you doing this year against your forecast? Up, down or on track? If you don’t have a forecast, you really need one, take the action now to instruct your Accountant, Book Keeper or Practice Manager to create one for the next 12 months as a matter of priority. How productive are your Associates and Hygienists: what is their Average Daily Yield? How is this trending? How much profit did your practice make in February? Was this on forecast? Look, I really need you to be able to do this ~ If I woke you up in the middle of the night (heaven forbid!) and asked you how your practice was doing, you would know your practice numbers against your forecast, day by day and week by week. If it’s good enough for John Lewis, it’s good enough for you!


Step Five. Your Patient Base:

How many patients are on your database? Does your database need cleaning up? Does your recall system work well enough? How many of your database are active patients? (How many of them have been through the door in the last 24 months? That’s your active patient base.) How do the active patients split between your dentists? Do you need to redistribute? Can you do anything about reactivating the missing patients? Do you know how to do this effectively so that you can get 30% booked back into your diaries? (Don’t send them letters!) What is your attrition rate? Are you gaining more patients than you’re losing or vice versa?


Step Six. Your Dental Services and Fees:

Review your list of dental services. Is it appropriate for your target market? What’s missing? What are you referring out? Could you bring any of this into the practice? Is your pricing right. (It’s just as likely to be too high as too low.) Do you charge for time or outcomes? How do you charge for multiple units? Does it suit your positioning of your practice within your area and competitive set? Do you discount? Do you understand the effect of this on your profits? Is your pricing in line with the quality of the service you offer and the value the practice gives? (Be honest with yourself.) Is your practice affordable to your target market? Are your fees always transparent?


Step Seven. Your Marketing and Sales:

Do you have a marketing and sales plan? Is your branding effective and appropriate? Do your marketing messages clearly reflect your proposition and do they always have calls to action? Are the channels you use effective? Do you measure the results of your marketing against ROI?

Have you got these three basics right? 1. An effective “Patient get Patient” process? 2. A functioning Web Site which gets sufficient traffic and delivers 6% of the unique visitors to your front desk? 3. Kerb Appeal and relevant, visible signage?

Is one of your team tasked with managing and measuring the sales process in your practice? Are you measuring the practice sales against your forecast?


Step Eight. Your Practice Facility:

Consider your:

1. Front of House Facilities. Take a walk through the patient areas as if you were seeing them for the first time. Are they fresh or tired? (Are the chairs positioned around the walls in your waiting room?) Are the facilities as nice as your local Starbucks/Hilton/Hotel-Du-Vin/Boutique Optician/Boutique Hairdresser? Do you close at lunchtime, move patients around to suit you/your Associates? Is your reception welcoming, high desk, clutter behind it? Phones on or off the front desk? Can I get through to your practice easily on the phone? How many calls/week are your reception missing?

2. Clinical Facility, Clean? Cluttered? Appropriate? Up to date? Bright? Would you have your dentistry done here?

3. Management Facility, Is it fit for purpose? Enough space and daylight? The right technology?


Step Nine. Your People:

How would you score them out of ten? (Clinicians and Support Team?). If you could borrow the Breathe Magic Wand, who needs to go? Who would you hire? Who needs more training? Who needs a pay rise? Are you using performance pay to keep everyone focussed and motivated? Does your appraisal system work well? Have you been appraised recently?


Step Ten. Your Practice Performance Measurement:

What do you measure and how often? What do you do with the data?

Here are the latest Breathe Key Performance Indicators:


  • Average Daily Gross by Fee Earner in £ and trend.
  • Net Growth in Active List Size and trend.
  • New Patient Value in £ and trend.
  • Average Patient Value in £ and trend.
  • Profit in £ and trend.



Step Eleven. Your Roadblocks:

If you’ve got this far, you’ve already got a pretty good idea of what’s going well and what needs fixing. However, it’s not that simple (I know you know this!) So, what are the roadblocks to getting the fixes you want in place?


Step Twelve. Your New Objectives:

It’s very likely that the objectives that you thought were the right ones for 2013 have changed as a result of you doing this analysis. So, now ~ what are your three key objectives for 2013?

What strategies do you need to achieve these three objectives? Then create a list of tactics for each strategy.

And finally do a resource check. Do you have enough of thee four essentials?

1. The right people with the right skills and behaviours?

2. Enough knowledge to build the strategies and tactics?

3. Enough money to resource your strategies and tactics?

4. Enough (of your) management time to make this happen?


If you get this analysis done over Easter, I guarantee you will know a lot more about what your practice needs for the rest of 2013.

And here’s my challenge to you… If you email me the results of your practice analysis, I will book you a (free) 30 minute coaching call with me to discuss how to achieve your three key objectives!


Contact Simon Hocken on:


m. 07770 430576

Or contact the Breathe office on


t. 0845 299 720


Wishing all our readers a very Happy Easter!


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