(This article is part of a series on giving staying power to your dental practice plans for 2016. Click the links for first, second, third, fourth, and fifth articles in this series.)

Let me start with a quick reminder that the seven principles I am outlining in this series of articles are not meant to be approached sequentially in execution. Rather they are all meant to work together, so feel free to go back and review the earlier entries if you need a refresher on where we are so far.

The things we discussed in those articles are important to keep in mind as we move forward. For example, we have talked about how you have to decide what is important, and how you need to establish a framework where new habits can take hold. But how will you know those new habits are working?

Principle 4: Track Your Progress

It’s something that still surprises me from time to time. I’ll be talking with a dentist – someone who I know was working toward a specific improvement in the practice, such as increasing invitations (or referrals, if you are a specialist). I ask how things are going with that objective and they say that things are coming along pretty well. I ask how many more new patients they have been seeing in recent months and they say something like, “Well, I’m not sure exactly, but it feels like I’m probably doing better.”

Winning dental practicesCompare this with a professional athlete. Ask a baseball hitter how many home runs he hit last year, and whether it was more or less than the year before and I guarantee you will get a precise answer. Ask a runner or speed skater or swimmer what their best time was in any given event – or what their most recent time was – and they will respond without hesitation. For that matter, they also know what the world record is that they are aiming to beat – and isn’t it amazing how many so-called “unbreakable” records get broken?

Winners are trackers.

It applies in sports, where Olympians doggedly record every effort and chart their progress, as well as in professional team sports where player statistics are endlessly scrutinized by not just the players but also the coaches, the fans, the media and the agents who are going in to negotiate contracts. It also applies in just about any business. A good business person always knows his or her numbers.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time with spreadsheets, poring over all the stats in your practice. On the contrary, you should be laser-focused on the numbers that matter. And the results that matter the most are the ones in areas you are targeting for progress.

If you have made it a goal to increase invitations, and you are implementing strategies to make improvements in that area, by all means start counting invitations. If case acceptance is what you have decided to focus on, implement a strategy for tracking meaningful numbers that will give you real insight into your success in that area.  Use your team meetings – quarterly, monthly, and daily – to reveal progress or isolate trends that concern you so you keep the team’s focus where it needs to be, too.

A system for tracking the right results gives you important insights into where you are and where you are going, into what’s working and what isn’t. It tells you when to make adjustments and when to celebrate. No serious plan for success is complete without it.