“Ya gotta have a goal, do ya have a goal?!” – Kit De Luca, Pretty Woman
Wise woman. While it's never too late to begin, I do recommend seeing the start of a new quarter as a new beginning. Goal setting can be a constant exercise, but it is particularly useful when the team feels like they have a new beginning. In reality, there is no start or finish to time. December bleeds into January as seamlessly as May becomes June. But, April 1, and subsequently, July 1, and October 1, has a different connotation. It feels as though all the problems, mistakes, and missed opportunities of the previous quarter have been somehow expunged. Let’s take advantage of this “fresh start” and energize our teams with some specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely goals.
Option 1: We want to grow this year. Option 2: We want to increase our annual Gross Revenue by a minimum of 5% with a stretch goal of 8%.
Option 1 is not specific enough – you are not a plant, or a child, but still, some amount of growth is implied even without striving for it. Try instead to review your top line growth for 2017, evaluate where we landed as of March 31, and determine what is feasible for the rest of the year, bearing in mind that feasible and easy are two very different things. Gross Revenue growth between 3 and 5% is generally considered to be organic, and will most likely occur whether you set a goal or not due to price changes, inflation, and the naturally occurring shifts in the local population. 5% is the top of organic growth, so we can begin there at a minimum and include a stretch.
Option 1: Sell more high-end product. Option 2: Increase unit sales of frames listed above $200 by 10%.
“High-end” means a lot of different things to different people. You may think a high-end frame is $400 because the wholesale cost comes out of your pocket, while your staff may receive pushback on frames listed anywhere outside the standard insurance allowance. Using numbers instead of words ensures everyone is working off of the same definition, eliminating the opportunity for misunderstanding.
Option 1: Improve practice profitability Option 2: Opticians – reduce the remake percentage to less than 1%; Technicians – increase the number of OCT exams by 10%; Front Desk – complete at least 5 personal calls to patients weekly
When setting goals, it is important to keep your audience in mind. A part-time Optician may not have any understanding of how to improve the practice’s profitability, and even less control over it. What you can do, as the owner, is try to identify where the hidden costs are impacting profits, and how to grow top-line revenue without increasing COGS. Then, set goals that are appropriate for each department that they can understand and meaningfully effect.
Option 1: Increase the capture rate from 30% to 80%. Option 2: Increase the capture rate from 30% to the industry average last year of 49%.
Setting unrealistic goals, while it may be invigorating to you, is demoralizing for the staff. Particularly, if we incentivize them around achieving our goals, what we see as rallying the troops may actually result in the opposite effect. There is a hidden, underlying consequence to setting goals; it brings to people’s attention that they are underperforming. If we then set the expectation too high, they may just give up entirely.
Option 1: Grow new patient exams by 10%. Option 2: Grow new patient exams by an average of 10% each quarter through the end of the year.
You may not be able to see any new patients for the next few months as you work toward change. By setting an average goal for the year, and setting a quarterly expectation, as opposed to daily, weekly, or monthly, we allow time to consider the proper course of action. Setting a realistic time period may at first feel like you are limiting yourself, and the staff’s potential. But, people respond to structure, and reject rigidity. If we don’t know what the expectations are, we may always be falling short. Conversely, if the time period is too aggressive, we may inadvertently create a flurry of activity that has no structure.
Instead of being limiting, being S.M.A.R.T. about setting goals will help you achieve them. When you do, celebrate the win, and set the bar a little bit higher.
‘Cuz ya gotta have a goal, do ya have a goal?!
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster. Her most recent positions include Merchandise Manager for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Northeast Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin working for IDOC, helping other small business owners find succeed on their own terms. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.