Annual Strategic Planning For Your Aesthetic Practice
We all have heard the saying, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Which means if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Developing a strategic plan can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve never created one before and are not sure where to start.
That’s why for this week’s blog, our team at APX Platform wants you to have all the tools you need to create a strategic annual plan to grow your aesthetics practice and be successful in reaching your goals.
We’ll cover why strategic planning is vital, the importance of celebrating wins, reviewing what did not work, lessons learned during the prior year, assessing your team, your annual performance, forecasting and budgeting, setting goals for the upcoming year and ,more importantly, how to share them with your team so you can execute accordingly.
Why Strategic Planning for your Aesthetic Practice is So Important
It’s important to know where we have been and where we are going, but you can’t get there without a road map. You cannot just wing it or hope that you’re going to figure it out along the way. So, each year it’s vital to evaluate your practice’s team & overall performance. You need to know and review your numbers so you can understand what went right and what went wrong.
Then, you are going to create a strategic plan. Part of that plan is asking yourself:
- How did we perform this year?
- Where do we think we can go from here?
- What goals are we going to set for ourselves? For our team?
- What do we want to focus on?
- What do we need to change?
- How will we communicate this plan to our team?
Celebrating Accomplishments/Reflecting on Lessons Learned
There are several reasons why it’s important to evaluate the things that went well. So, take a few minutes to consider what happened during the past year that was successful as you might want to repeat it or learn from it to apply to other efforts. It is also a nice way to foster a positive team culture to celebrate the accomplishments your team has achieved. Oftentimes we tend to focus on things that went wrong, or we need to fix, so it is very important to celebrate the things our team has done well.
So, we encourage you to make a list and ask your staff to weigh in on developing this list. You may get a lot of new perspectives on what your team is proud to have achieved. This list is not only related to financial numbers growth but could be about:
- Growth in leads/consults/closure rates
- Events that had a positive impact on your practice
- New services you incorporated that required training and effort
- Hiring and onboarding new staff
- Building a cohesive team that feels like family
- Expanding into a new space or renovating your space
- Team members who got new certifications or attended trainings in a particular skill
- Increasing productivity
- Starting a new loyalty program or perhaps enhanced patient communication
- Updated processes or protocols
Reflect on all these things and take notes so you can determine what made these achievements successful. Instead of focusing on the things that went wrong or were less than successful, focus on the lessons learned. Part of a positive team culture is setting a tone of continuous improvement. You want to encourage the team to take opportunities to learn from each other and other practices.
- What might have had a negative impact on your practice and your team?
- Were there any toxic people or discord that affected performance or culture?
- Did any service lines or devices struggle?
- Did you have trouble with patient acquisition or retention?
- Were any team members not a good fit? If so, what about them was not a good fit so you can avoid repeating when recruiting in 2023.
- Are there processes or protocols that could use improvement?
- Has your staff received proper sales training?
- How is your client feedback? If you have seen any negative feedback, how can you use it as an opportunity to improve?
Assessing Your Annual Performance
You’ll want to take a careful look to evaluate and assess your year-to-date annual performance. Key areas you want to look at include:
Revenue – Make sure when you are looking at your revenue, you look at not just your Gross Revenue, but your net revenue is after all your expenses were deducted. You’ll also want to evaluate revenue by category. Having access to this data and knowing your numbers regarding profit per treatment and revenue per hour are what are going to really move the needle in your practice’s growth.
Expenses – One thing we hear a lot from our clients is “We need to cut expenses.” You want to keep your total expenses under control, so you want to assess the costs of goods in your practice to make sure you are not overspending and are aligned with appropriate benchmarks for those expense categories. If one of your Cost of Goods is out of sync, perhaps you need to find a new vendor with better pricing.
Project Growth/Forecast – You’ll want to create a forecast of projected growth, so you know how to set goals in the coming year and what is realistic to expect. (More on forecasting/budgeting in the next section).
Revenue Per Hour/Profit Per Treatment – These two data points are vital to know. Within APX Platform we have financial calculators that can calculate these numbers for you which makes it easier to know what areas of your practice are generating the highest profit margins and should garner more focus in the upcoming year. Knowing your Revenue Per Hour gives insight into efficiency and productivity. You can look at how many hours your providers are working vs. how many they are selling and how much revenue they are bringing in. This is something you should review every year at minimum, but quarterly is even better as your pricing may have changed, your Cost of Goods may have increased, your staff compensation may have changed, etc.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Provider Productivity, Provider Capacity and Utilization – You want to know your data for these KPIs: provider productivity, provider capacity and operational utilization. Again, this is reviewing:
- How many hours or providers are working compared to how many hours you are open?
- How many of those hours resulted in revenue-generating activity?
- How many additional hours are available to sell in each room?
- What is our capacity per provider and when do we hire additional staff?
- How much of your facility are you utilizing from an operational perspective?
Regarding utilization, here are a couple of benchmarks to know: In general, if your providers are at 70% capacity or you are hitting 70% of your operational utilization, it may be time to expand. Or, perhaps after reviewing your KPIs, you might determine you need to expand your hours to accommodate longer days or have Saturday hours. You want to look at workflow opportunities before you decide to hire additional staff and are unable to fill their available hours.
You may need to consider being more efficient with your space, so you are taking advantage of revenue generating activities. For example, can you have a separate numbing area, so you are not taking up a service room? Put some thought into this before you just decide you need more space or to move.
Forecasting & Budgeting
This is often a scary topic for people, but it does not need to be. APX platform has financial calculators that help with forecasting and budgeting for those of you who are already clients.
Let’s start with explaining what forecasting and budgeting are. They are truly educated estimates of where we anticipate our finances will be in a future time frame. So, when you are creating your annual strategic plan, you want to look at the current year that is wrapping up so you can plan for the upcoming year. Forecasting refers to anticipated revenue. Budgeting refers to both the revenue and expenses and how they balance together.
Once you have completed your forecast and budget, one of the toughest things to do is know what to do with this information. The first thing you’ll want to consider doing is setting your goals for the upcoming year, then developing a plan to reach them.
Setting Goals & Planning for Upcoming Year
When setting goals as part of your strategic plan, they will encompass financial goals, of course, but should also include operational goals as well. Think about what you want to accomplish in your practice in the upcoming year. What do you really want to focus on? It is not important how many goals you have, it is about setting meaningful goals and making sure you develop a plan with strategies to reach them.
For example, after you analyze your capacity and utilization you might want to set a goal for hiring two more team members. Or perhaps you must let someone on staff go. Maybe you need more space or to expand your hours. You may need to set goals based on compensation structure.
Setting goals for individual team members is important especially when it comes to annual reviews to measure what an employee accomplished and what they need to improve upon.
Once you set your goals (We’ll go more in-depth on goal setting in Part 2 of this blog series) you need to create your strategic plan to execute to reach your goals.
You want to be able to look at profit per treatment and revenue per hour data as well as your forecast and budget and start analyzing:
- Where should we put our efforts?
- Do we have the most efficient and cost-effective employee taking care of some of these services?
- When we look at our revenue per hour are our providers hitting the industry benchmarks?
- What are our highest margin services? (Remember highest grossing revenue services are not always the most profitable. For example, Botox might be your highest gross revenue service, but the Cost of Goods is on average 50% so it is not likely going to be your highest profit margin treatment.)
- Which product lines perform the best? (You don’t need to continue carrying product lines that don’t sell well). Focus on the top 1-3 product lines so you can recommend the best solution to your patient’s vs. giving them multiple choices where they are likely to not buy anything.
- Is there a service category that is not profitable? Do we need to consider additional training or focus more marketing dollars on that service?
When planning, consider:
- What do you want to get done this year?
- Do you want to be able to make some capital purchases?
- Are you planning on rolling out a new service line?
- Does your facility need some updates that you need to consider?
- Do you want to expand your team?
- Do you want to invest in team culture or employee personality assessments?
- What new processes and protocols or training do we need to put in place to set employees up for success?
- Do we have detailed job descriptions and room for growth for employees within the company?
- Can we reduce expenses (going paperless, reducing merchant services costs, etc)
These are things that we need to make sure we’re planning for because you need to consider the impact it has on your revenue and your expenses for the upcoming year.
Sharing the Plan with your Team
Setting a lofty overall number goal (such as we want to grow by one million dollars or 10% this year) is hard to grasp and means nothing to your staff. It helps to break goals down in a more digestible way. Breaking them down by quarter, or better yet monthly makes it much easier to understand and stay on track.
Smaller monthly goals are easier to attain and stay focused on. APX Platform has a goal tracker calculator built-in which is helpful to show your team on a regular basis to track progress. If you are not yet an APX Platform client, you can create your own goal tracker for your team. Having an overall financial goal that can be divided out monthly is also helpful to consider seasonality. For example, if January is typically a very slow month, you don’t want to have the same goal set for January as you do for historically busier months. All months may not be created equal for your practice.
If you are going to have an incentive-based program of any kind, you’ll want to set productivity goals for your team. You want to give them a specific timeline for accomplishing goals and make sure they have the education or training that’s needed to reach them. Do they need better scripts to work with, do they need to review your practice and provider credentials? Are they utilizing treatment plans effectively?
When sharing your goals and strategic plan with your team, remember that they don’t need every financial number or your data; however, you do need to communicate what your plan is, your overall goals, how you expect everyone to work together, and then specific individual goals.
We suggest you hold a staff meeting in January to share your plan with your team and have quarterly meetings to assess progress. Be transparent with them and share your expectations.
Here is a summary of tips to make continuous improvement part of your culture:
- Hold annual Strategic Plan staff meeting
- Discuss your accomplishments & lessons learned
- Discuss what you learned from the forecast & budget
- Review what areas excelled; what areas need improvement
- Show areas of excessive waste in expenses
- Explain the goals (financial and operational) for the upcoming year and how this impacts the team–overall goals, department/team goals, and individual goals
- Set a plan for transparency and accountability to these goals
- Give updates in staff meetings, huddles, 1-1 meetings with providers
- Share & discuss strategies for success. Do not underestimate the feedback and insight your staff may have on how to reach these goals
- Write it down – each year you should have a documented Strategic Plan
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this blog series for a deeper dive into setting specific goals. If the information in the blog resonated with you & you would like to discuss your practice with one of the members of our team, I invite you to visit apxplatform.com to fill out a practice assessment. We value you & want to hear from you.