Ep. 167 | How to Craft a Simple Strategic Planning Session to Grow Your Practice and Improve Employee MoralBenjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day busyness and stress of the office. At times it can feel like you’re constantly putting out fires with no downtime to sit back, plan strategically, and review the big picture.

A strategic planning session doesn’t have to be a few days at the happiest place on earth (although ours was), but it does need to get done so you know WHY you’re doing the things you’re doing and how you can position your practice for a successful year.

You can also use your strategic planning meeting to:

  • Shape and set the strategic direction of your organization
  • Discuss critical issues in an environment free from the daily stresses of running your practice
  • Discuss budget changes and team events
  • Bond with and involve members of your team you may not otherwise
  • Streamline the planning process

Join us as we break down how you can craft a strategic planning session (headache-free) to help you build your business, improve employee morale, and inspire a renewed sense of purpose.

Tune in to discover:

  • The importance of carving out the time to take a 30,000-foot view of the business, your clients, and your competitive environment
  • How to plan and develop the outline for your strategic planning meeting
  • Why celebrating wins and discussing losses is critical to your success
  • How to define your WHY
  • How to do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) for your practice as well as your competitors

Free Healthcare Awareness 2024 Calendar

Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.

Free Healthcare Awareness 2023 Calendar

Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.

Transcript Notes

Speaker 1: Dr Marketing Tips. Paging Dr Marketing Tips. Dr Marketing Tips, you’re needed in the marketing department. Welcome to the Dr Marketing Tips podcast, your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes, and sharing successes. Let’s get started.

Jennifer: Hey there, welcome to the Dr Marketing Tips podcast. I am Jennifer.

Corey: And I’m Corey.

Jennifer: And today we want to talk about some exercises that we did at our company retreat and some year end review strategy session stuff that really focuses on building your business, improving employee morale, and getting ready for the year ahead. So basically we are just a couple weeks now, off of four days of time that we spent as a team with six of us at Walt Disney World at the resort in Orlando, where we logged over 10 miles a day at the parks and about six hours a day with some strategy planning that we use every year to get ready for 2019.

Corey: Yeah, so we’re lucky enough, our office is based in Orlando, so it’s not too far of a hike for us. So we’re able to put together a year end retreat where we take the team and we outline an agenda of things that we want to focus on and things that we want to reflect on and we also spend some time together outside of the office to kind of build on some of the foundations and relationships and friendships that we do have.

Jennifer: Yeah, and we’re not implying that everybody is going to spend a week over at Disney World kumbayaing, but what we are saying is some of the tools that we use during our off site planning retreat, are tools that you can implement back at your practice that don’t really involve necessarily having a bit retreat but definitely are something that you could take two hours on a Wednesday afternoon and bring in five people from your admin team or your two person marketing team or your leadership team and you could go through these exact same exercises for your practice. In fact, a lot of these exercises that we do for ourselves during our annual planning retreat, are the same exercises we go through on behalf of our medical practice clients when they first become clients because in order for us to fully understand what we’re going to be marketing, we need to understand how they operate, who their competitors are, and why they’re doing the things that they’re doing.

So like we said, our retreat is built into kind of four separate days of super intense learning and reflection, yours doesn’t have to be that intense by any means.

Corey: Yeah, I think one of the most important things you can do is you use this as an opportunity with whatever team that you’re taking, whatever size of your staff that you’re using these exercises with and kind of zooming out a little bit because I think a lot of times, everyone is guilty of just sort of getting caught up in the weeds and getting through the day and so you can use this as a time to sort of zoom out from a 10,000 foot view and then say, well this is why we do the things that we do, recognize some employees, here’s some wins and losses for the year and some things that we can do differently or process improvements and we’ll walk you through some of what we did while we were on our retreat.

Jennifer: Yeah, so for our retreat, I’m usually pretty close to the vest on what the agenda is going to be. I like to send out, a couple of weeks in advance, an outline of the agenda. So it’s pretty meticulous in that we’re going to arrive at a certain time, this is what we’re going to be talking about, and the subtext there is, your ass better come prepared when I send out the agenda in advance and so the first thing that I like to do is take stock kind of of our wins and losses at a team. Now I’ll have some numbers that relate to wins and losses from a profitability or from a revenue standpoint, but then I expect every member of the team to come with their individual wins and losses and also with kind of what their version of the big picture wins and losses are.

So literally what we do is we take giant sticky notes and we put them all over the walls and they say wins and losses on them and we each go through and we talk about where we could have done better or what we really missed the mark on for the year and it’s great for being an opportunity when you’re tracking wins and losses to coordinate and to give kudos to somebody on the team that may have really stepped up and done a great job on something and it’s also a way for us to say, we missed the mark here and we acknowledge it and holding each other accountable to something that we might have missed the mark on and I find it really positive for us to take our wins and losses and to do that right up at the beginning of the retreat and to leave those up on the wall so that everybody throughout the couple of days can be paying attention to and always reflecting back and saying, you know what? We missed the mark on that and we’re going to focus on that next year.

So kind of that’s what we did the first day of our retreat. We got to the hotel, we had a little bit of a snafu on the first day, so we just decided to pivot and go to the parks but then when we actually got started, on the very first day we focused on kind of what those wins and losses were before we got into the next stage of it.

Corey: And I think I just want to touch on the wins and losses real quick. It’s interesting too to hear the different perspectives from people that are at different levels of the organization and doing different things day to day. So wins and losses from Jen’s perspective, essentially being the figurehead and the president, it’s very different from someone who sits in front of a computer all day and is managing tasks. Their wins and losses are going to be totally different but I think that it’s beneficial for both of them to hear the other side’s wins and losses because again, it sort of clues you in to the whole picture and not just what you’re doing every single day.

Jennifer: Absolutely and I think as we talk about kind of what are some of the bigger trends from a marketing standpoint into 2019 and 2020, one of the big things that we’re talking about right now are anything you can do related to employee engagement and so if you can get the team on the same page or to understand where somebody else is coming from related to those wins and losses, it just makes for a better team all around.

So one of the things we did this year, which we haven’t done in years past, is I actually brought a facilitator in to help us discover our why. So a lot of times we will go through the motion of getting something done and just checking it off our list but we don’t always understand what the why is and we’ve got members of our team that are just guilty of it, I’m the same way.

A client reaches out to us and says, hey, I want to start a podcast and we’ll be like, hold on a second, why do you want to start the podcast? Who is it that you’re trying to reach? Why do you think this is important and how is this playing to the bigger picture? And we really try to slow down now and start with why and this comes from a concept by Simon Sinek and it’s a bestselling book called, Start With Why, and what Simon says is, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We’re drawn, as leaders, and 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 and so this year, we brought a facilitator in and spend about four hours defining our why.

Why do we work with medical practices? Why do we get up every day to do the job that we’re doing? And I really think it helped provide a framework for us moving into 2019 and literally within days of coming back to the office, we already had our why up on the office and all of us were pointing in the same direction.

Corey: Yeah and it’s also up on the website. So I’m going to propose we don’t say what it is and tell the listeners, go to the website to see what the why is.

Jennifer: It’s pretty darn simple but it was a great process of going through that and I would encourage everybody, if you haven’t done it, I would say, read the book. I read all of Simon Sinek books but there is about a 10 minute TED Talk that he did on Start With Why and if you don’t have time to read a 200 page book, then you can definitely find time during the break to go watch a 10 minute TED Talk. It will change the way that you do things in your medical practice.

Corey: Yeah and I think it’s important to say too that for this exercise, it can be just the stakeholders or it can be everyone all the way down to the front desk because what we were talking about briefly before was how marketing, especially in 2019, is going to be a team sport and everyone sort of has a part to play. So as you’re carving out time to do this with your team, it’s really beneficial to find out what other folks think that the why is and why you operate the way that you do because you can use that not only as an education tool and opportunity but you can also use it as a way to get everybody on the same page, which can really sort of jumpstart everything into 2019.

Jennifer: Absolutely and if you buy into this whole, start with why concept, you can take it a step further as you’re looking an employee engagement opportunities and really training your employees up. It is so beneficial, if you think about this, not only to understand as a company why you’re doing things that you’re doing but how … why do your employees show up for work every day? Understanding your employees why will help you as you’re putting your employee engagement programs together for 2019 and when you understand your employee’s why, you can marry the why with the right job function and then that helps deliver a better customer experience and a better overall patient experience and so again, it all ties together because marketing is now a team sport.

Corey: Absolutely.

Jennifer: So the next thing that we did in our retreat is something … this is actually something we do whenever we bring on a new client, is not only do we do our own SWOT analysis, but what I found to be really beneficial and always find to be really beneficial, is when you identify your kind of perceived competitors in the marketplace and you do a SWOT analysis on your competitors.

Corey: Yeah, I think it’s super important to look at the SWOT analysis not only for the competitors but for yourself, like you said. So that’s your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and I would venture to say that a lot of the folks listening have not done one of those on the practice, at least recently, and have not done one on their competitors. So the way that we set that up is we basically put everything on the wall on these really big sticky notes, just like we did with the wins and losses and then we sort of compare the SWOTs for us and the competitors and it’s really interesting to see everything when it’s sort of all on the wall, side by side, and what the team sort of comes up with as we’re working on this together.

Jennifer: No, absolutely and when we do it for a new client coming onboard, it is the most beneficial thing, I feel like we do, because when we’re doing SWOTs on our competitors and then we finally look at everybody’s side by side, that’s what allows us to see what differentiates the practice that we’re getting ready to work with from the practices that are out there. It feels like that’s the spotlight that shines the path for whatever that marketing plan is about to become and we do it through identifying where they’re weak and where they’re strong and then that shows us what we need to do without much more analysis beyond that.

Corey: Yeah, exactly. I mean it’s literally side by side. It shows how you stack up to others and then that almost organically, automatically, sort of leads into the outline for a plan for growth and what to focus on specifically because it’s just laid out in front of you side by side. So it makes it very obvious.

Jennifer: Absolutely and I’d say as you’re going through this process, again, you leave these SWOTs up on the wall because it is something that you will continue to ponder and reference back to and it will get your creative juices flowing and it’ll remind everybody of why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it. We’re able to look at our competitor’s SWOTs and chart our path into the future knowing where they are. We can also look at our competitors and as we’re diving into their business and trying to understand them from the outside in. We can almost see what they’ve got on the horizon and where they’re headed and we can decide if we’re going to go after them head on or if we’re just going to go a different path and I think that doing the SWOT analysis on your competitors, even more so than doing it on yourself, is critical for growing in the smart kind of way and moving forward and I don’t think you need to do a SWOT analysis, kind of back to what you were saying before, Corey, about how every person on the team brings something so different to the table.

I don’t know that you need to just do the SWOT analysis like typically you would at the top level only and then like send it out to the team. I think that each individual team within the practice, whether it’s the IT team, whether it’s the marketing team, the operations team, the doctors team, whoever it is, the admin group, they need to do their own individual ones and then bring those to the bigger picture, to where we can have a bigger conversation because you need to, in certain instances, silo off if you’re going to dive into the details at the level that you want to dive into them.

Corey: Yeah, and I would say too, as your teams are creating those, you want to point out that you want to focus on internal and external for the SWOT. So for example, let’s say that you’re looking at the reception team. So they have strengths that are patient facing, so those are kind of like external strengths but maybe they have some sort of really great communication that the patients never see, so that’s an internal strength and as you’re outlining the SWOTs, you want to make sure that you pay attention to the internal and the external and those are included, even if it’s not patient facing.

Jennifer: Absolutely. So a strength for the practice down the road may be that they have a super intuitive, easy to use scheduling system on their website. So somebody goes to their website, they give the date and the time that they want to see the doctor, they get a text reminder, it’s super intuitive, super easy, and then they get a request for an online review after the fact. Well maybe that is actually one of your weaknesses, so the opportunity is for you then to dive into what it is that they’re using, figure out who that vendor is, reach out to that vendor, work yourself a better deal, find out that there’s a version 2.0 that the practice down the road hadn’t seen yet and then go out and implement something like that, even bigger and better for your practice or with a different vendor that provides more bells and whistles but until you identify that as being a strength of the other practice and a weakness of yours, you’re not going to be able to identify where the opportunity is and the threat is that if that practice down the road is doing this and everybody out there is expecting it, then if you don’t get with the program, you run the risk of losing patients.

Corey: Ta da.

Jennifer: Ta da.

Corey: Yeah, and so one of the things that we did right after the SWOT was we talked about defining roles for everybody on the team. So when your practice is growing, sometimes there’s growing pains and as you add more people, some folks may not know exactly what their day to day sort of job description has become, so we took this as an opportunity to, in the room with everyone, say, okay, so this position is going to be responsible for X, Y, and Z and this one is for, A, B, C, so on and so forth and I think that not only does that help kind of focus on daily tasks but it also sort of provides some guidance for education opportunities and responsibilities.

Jennifer: No, absolutely and I think that understanding that it depends on where your organization is but for us, these are fluid roles and so going through that process and kind of redefining the roles and having these conversations actually allows people to kind of see where they want to go and also from an engagement standpoint, to see where they might go if they’re part of it. I think defining the roles and taking the time to talk about them without actually being so literal that it’s, what we talked about is what’s being implemented but to take the time and defining roles as a brainstorming session, I think that just makes us all better when we get back to work in what we’re doing and I think it helps us …

It’s just helpful when everybody kind of understands the big picture, especially as you’ve got generational changes within your practice, from who’s working there and who your potential patients are, just younger patients and their expectations. They expect to understand the big picture more so than somebody that’s a little bit older that has been around for a while because those of us that are a little older understand more about staying in our own lane, whereas I think the younger generation coming in is more apt to crossover to other lanes.

Corey: -sort of … everyone is on board from a top level, that can help identify the direction and core activities of the business and at this point, you can sort of outline that the focus may shift. So as of right now, the role of Susie, it might be different in six months but this is the time to sort of outline that and so it’s not a surprise in six months when that does happen.

Jennifer: And the reason that it’s okay that it’s not a surprise is because everybody, including Susie, understands why we’re doing that-

Corey: Exactly.

Jennifer: -because we started with why and between the going over your wins and losses and really performing the SWOT on your competitors even more so than yourself and then diving into understanding why you’re doing the things you’re doing, that gets everybody on the same page so that they understand the bigger picture as we discuss roles and who’s going to be doing what and I think those make up the key elements to a retreat or a planning session or whatever it is that you want to call it and it doesn’t necessarily take four days at Disney. It can be something that you do over the course of lunch and just pick one of these exercises and implement them and you’ll be all the better for it.

Corey: Yeah, absolutely. At the end of the day you carve out this time to kind of step back and plan and strategize and review and then you sort of come back with a renewed sense of purpose and understanding and overall, it’s a good time and in our case, we got some Mickey ears to wear around too, so win win.

Jennifer: Yeah but I also think that and we’ll kind of end it on this, is that yes, you need to do one on one time with individual members of your team. I think it’s important to do that but when you take the time as a collective team to work out these issues very transparent and get everybody on the same page, it makes that one on one time a lot less painful.

The fact is, especially in the new generation of the workforce, when you’re constantly engaging employees, you’re tackling things as they come at you and everybody is on the same page because you’re taking once or twice a year, to make sure everybody’s on the same page, which means you’re not waiting until you have this annual review, when it’s time to sit down with somebody to hash it all out. You’ve been hashing it out all year because you’ve created an engaged, open workforce where everybody’s on the same team pointing towards the same direction and I think that’s the key moving forward. When we talk about some of these key themes into the new year for 2019, 2020, it’s all about employee engagement, patient experience, and customer service and those are key players on the marketing team for getting and attracting and retaining new patients and it all starts with just making sure that y’all are on the same team, transparent, everybody understands which direction the bus is driving.

Corey: Absolutely. Defining the why and doing the SWOT, it really does make a huge huge difference.

Jennifer: Yep, absolutely and another shameless plug, I feel like I’ve been giving them all a lot lately, we’re really focused this year on employee engagement programs and we’ve set up the start with why and this entire process … We’ve set it up so that you can pick up the phone, call us, and we can come over to your practice and deliver this for you. We’re still working out the kinks on that but it is something that I’m really excited about and hope that you’ll pick up the phone and give us a call or shoot us an email because we’d love to use you as a guinea pig as we’re going out and helping you understand your why and helping you point yourself in the right strategic direction. So with that last shameless plug, I’m Jennifer.

Corey: And I’m Corey.

Jennifer: We’ll see you next time on the Dr Marketing Tips podcast.

Corey: Thanks guys.

Jennifer: Thanks.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the drmarketingtips.com podcast. If there’s anything from today’s show you want to learn more about, check out drmarketingtips.com for our podcast resource center with all the notes, links, and goodies we mentioned during the show. If you’re not already a subscriber to our show, please consider pressing the subscribe button on your podcast player so you never miss one of our future episodes and if you haven’t given us a rating or review yet on iTunes, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our medical practice peers. Thanks again for listening and we’ll catch you next time. Doctor’s orders.

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