While the year draws to a close, there is no better time to begin planning again. This usually means analyzing your practice, reviewing your market situation, and determining where you want to take your business as a whole next year.

Performing a year-end evaluation has significant advantages for every practice – not least of which is preparing for and positioning your practice for economic success in the year to come. Below are some simple techniques you can utilize for evaluation:

Focus on Your Achievements – Give yourself (and your practice) a pat on the back.

There\’s no better place to start your business review than focusing on the areas where the practice has succeeded – a year is a very long time for any business – and it\’s most often the lows that stick with us. Instead, try and celebrate the highs; remind yourself of your achievements and begin to strategize about ways to repeat them.

Analyze Key Business Aspects – these include the past year\’s sales and marketing efforts, staff members\’ performance, and the practice\’s financial health. Below are some points of consideration:

1. Evaluate your ‘Core Endeavor\’ – Core activities are the very basic products and services your practice delivers – Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Which products and services proved to be the most lucrative over the past year? How can you enhance operations around the growth of these?
  • Are there any practice services that are failing, or areas you wish you\’d seen better growth? If so, what modifications will you make next year to improve their sales or profitability? (marketing efforts, focused attention, streamlined sales process, price evaluation…etc)

2. Perform a Sales and Marketing Overview – Measure your year-end sales productivity key metrics – overall sales, conversion ratios, lost opportunities – how did they compare against your yearly growth and performance goals? Is there room for improvement?

Additionally, analyze your year-end ROI for all marketing and advertising channels. What areas overachieved, which ones underperformed? Adjust your 2014 marketing strategy/budget accordingly.

Remember, a full sales and marketing review should include an evaluation of external market forces – how did your practice compare vs national performance averages? How did it measure up against the competition? (a reliable way to perform this is to conduct a SWOT ((strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)) analysis).

3. Evaluate your Staff – yearly performance reviews are typically something both managers and employees usually dread. But a well-prepared and honest review is an important way to establish a baseline of staff performance, acknowledge accomplishments, and make sure specific staff goals are lined up with the overall practice goals for the upcoming year.

4. Review your Finances. Every single practice is unique, with unique goals, assets, market share, debt, longevity…etc. So it\’s difficult to speak to specific financial situations, however as a year-end guide you should at least review:

  • Budget – Did you establish one and have the actual expenses stayed within it?
  • Cash flow – Is it fluid? Can you foresee issues in 2014 and plan for them in advance?
  • Profit – Did the practice make profit? If so was the profit margin acceptable? How much of the profit will be dispersed and how much invested back into the practice?
  • Pricing – Evaluate your pricing strategy. Do you have to adjust your price? How will this impact your patient relationships?

Every practice is an enigma, with its own set of business and marketplace circumstances. But success is usually rewarded to the well prepared. As you wind-down the year and begin to relax towards the holidays, take time to savor the accomplishments, but don\’t rest on your laurels. Using these simple guidelines, evaluate the 2013 health of your practice and begin the process of planning how you are going to move forward in 2014. It\’s one crucial step towards ensuring you\’ll have a VERY happy New Year.