We’re fresh off four days at Walt Disney World where we logged 10+ miles a day park hopping, eating and enjoying some much-needed downtime outside of work. A family vacation? Not actually (although, we are a family). This past week was our annual offsite team planning retreat where we mix fun with business while outlining strategies and initiatives for the new year.
In 2018, we fulfilled around 10,000 hours of work for our medical practice clients – many long days where it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day busyness and stress of the office. At times it can feel like we’re constantly putting out fires with no downtime to sit back, plan strategically, and review the big picture.
An annual company retreat and planning session doesn’t have to be as encompassing as a week at the happiest place on earth, but it does need to get done. Use your annual planning retreat to recognize employees, celebrate the year’s wins (something we could all be better at doing) and come up with the game plan for the year ahead. And no, those long hours preparing the budget are no substitute for actually discussing big-picture initiatives and understanding why you’re focused on one over the other.
At Insight Marketing Group, we understand the importance of carving out a few days every year to take a 30,000 foot, 360-degree view of the business, our clients, the competitive environment, and where we are heading. Like we always say, you’ve gotta walk your talk. We only recommend action plans and strategies to our clients that we’ve experienced and worked through first hand ourselves.
Celebrate the Wins and Discuss the Losses
Taking stock of our wins and losses is a critical aspect of the annual retreat. It allows us to identify what we did well and what could have been done better. The wins and losses apply to the entire team, to every project, and ultimately to the organization as a whole.
Naming and listing out our wins and losses allow us to continue to enhance what’s working well, find ways to tweak workflow, improve internal processes, and develop stronger mechanisms to meet our clients’ needs. It also helped us build stronger lines of communication and strengthen team morale (the complimentary champagne mimosas didn’t hurt either).
DAY 1 AGENDA: Check into the hotel, grab a refreshment and head out to The Animal Kingdom where we’d managed to secure fast passes to Everest and the Na’vi River Journey (both of which were shut down likely due to weather, but we managed to secure 3 more fast passes for another day just for asking politely).
Side note: Our rooms weren’t ready when expected, and we had to alter our plans. Rather than go online to leave a negative review or brew over the bad experience, we shared our disappointment with the hotel.
Defining the Why
When we’re caught up in the day-to-day grind just checking things off the list, we sometimes forget to ask ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing. This is especially true for our client success managers who are focused on meeting deadlines and getting the job done for clients. It’s critical to slow down, consider the why and make sure we’re focused on the things that actually matter.
As leadership thought leader Simon Sinek says in his best-selling book Start With Why, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.”
DAY 2 AGENDA – PART 1: Arrive at The Animal Kingdom by 8 am for early park hours (tackle Everest and an African Safari). Get back to the hotel by 11 am for a formal Finding Your Why session with an outside facilitator, followed by several more hours of discussing our Wins and Losses and diving into SWOT analysis.
Our Why: To simplify your marketing, so you can focus on running your practice.
Perhaps the most impactful session of the annual retreat is centered around the SWOT analysis (an evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). We don’t just look at ourselves through this process but conduct individual SWOTs on our competitors and also those companies we believe capture a segment of the marketplace we’re looking to grow into.
When we bring on a new medical practice client, one of the first things we do when preparing their marketing plan is to produce their competitor analysis document. Understanding how we stack up to others allows us to outline a plan for growth that is specific to our particular needs (just because we’re all in the same business doesn’t mean the same cookie cutter strategy works for everyone).
We looked at the big players on the national level and evaluated how we stacked up, and looked at which areas they excel and in what aspects we outperform them. We listed internal and external opportunities and threats in the context of the current and potential future economic and financial landscapes.
Pro Tip: When doing a multi-day planning session, leave the SWOTs up on the wall so that you can continue to ponder and reference them as the creative juices flow.
DAY 2 AGENDA – PART 2: Fun at The Magic Kingdom. Rode Thunder Mountain, The Mine Train, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean. And, we may show up in a commercial at some point because while on The Mine Train we were treated to nightly fireworks overhead while rolling up and down the roller coaster singing along with the seven dwarfs. Can you say, Magical Moment? Best. Day. Ever.
With growth comes growing pains and sometimes when we choose a new path, it’s important to allow roles to evolve. Identifying the direction and core activities of your business can mean that existing team players may need to shift the focus of their daily tasks or learn new skills. This can provide opportunities for growth, advancement, and personal development for your existing employees, fuelling them with loyalty and intrinsic motivation.
Refining the division of labor within an organization may signal the need to hire additional staff. Having the time to brainstorm and identify the precise skills needed from a new staff member helps ensure a clearer and more efficient hiring process.
DAY 3 AGENDA: Start at 8 am to outline evolving roles and identify processes – basically, brainstorm how we can be more efficient and better all around in 2019. Take a break, then discuss revenue goals and the new budget followed by an outline of our new initiatives.
We called it a day around 2 pm and headed out to MGM studios with our fast passes for Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror where we squealed like little girls. Back to the hotel at 5 pm to get cleaned up and enjoy a bit of much-needed downtime before heading to Morimoto at Disney Springs for a fantastic team dinner. We made it to Epcot after dinner for Frozen and a walk around the world before heading back to the hotel again after midnight. At this point, it was time to Let It Go.
Pro Tip: Diving into the SWOTs helps us to identify key opportunity themes which can translate into new initiatives. When engaging employees and getting buy-in, understanding how your practice stacks up against the competition and also understanding your Why is the key to generating excitement for new initiatives.
One-on-One Time with the Team
A planning retreat serves as an opportunity to engage your team and get everybody on the same page. However, it’s equally important to make sure that you give your key players one-on-one time to share their personal challenges and concerns and to congratulate them on their accomplishments. Use this individual time to offer feedback, praise, and suggestions for improvements. It’s also a good time for two-way communication. And, because it’s out of the office, messages are likely to be heard and better received.
AGENDA DAY 4: One-on-one meetings from 8 am to 11 am followed by a final wrap-up.
For us, our annual planning retreat lived up to its expectations and more. We ate together, drank together, walked miles and miles, bonded, laughed, drank some more, sang Disney songs in public on the monorail (with an adorable little girl), had a ton of fun, and also got the job done.
At the end of the day, carving out the time to step back, plan, and strategize for the future ultimately promoted bonding across the entire company, enhanced employee engagement, unity, and fostered a deep sense of family and camaraderie. Our team planning retreat allowed everyone to gain new perspectives into the future of the future of our business.
Ready to get serious about your strategic plan for 2019? Our free 2019 Medical Practice Marketing Strategy and How-to Guide for medical practices is now available for download here.
Want to host your own 1, 2 or 3-day strategic planning session for your medical practice marketing team? Let’s chat.