When it comes to running a business and working the production line, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations. As a result, it's hard to focus on furthering the vision of your practice. Sound familiar? Well, this may go against everything you know about the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your business, but you need to stop setting goals for your KPIs! And start setting goals for the upstream metrics that drive them. By doing so, you'll connect your day-to-day operations to the progress of your company objectives; giving you more control over the stability of your practice growth!
Ultimately, if you want stability in the growth of your practice, you need to understand your metrics and how they relate to each other. It all starts by breaking down your metrics into 2 categories:
KPIs are special because they show you at a glance if a team, system, or group of systems, are working properly. They’re the metrics that measure how effectively the practice is achieving key business objectives. Which is why you might think you should set goals for these metrics. But downstream metrics can’t be easily influenced in real-time. Instead, they’re performance is a result of their upstream metrics’ performance earlier in time. Which is why you should stop setting goals for your KPIs and start setting goals for their upstream metrics, which CAN be easily controlled and affected by daily actions.
The purpose of your KPIs is to focus attention on the tasks and processes that are most important for making progress towards the declared goals and targets. In other words, you need to identify where your KPIs need to be performance-wise in order to achieve the company objectives. Working backward, you can then determine what goals need to be set for their upstream metrics in order to meet those expectations and progress your company vision.
Since KPIs are typically a group effort, and their performance is determined from multiple sources, an acceptable production range is most appropriate. The minimum being the least acceptable performance to keep the practice stable and the maximum being the most the practice can handle with its current bandwidth.
Example Production Range Metric: Total Production
Acceptable Production Range: $150,000 — $175,000 per Month
With downstream metrics, one bad day typically won’t affect overall production; however, instability and poor performance of their upstream metrics over several days or weeks definitely will cause these metrics to crash. Hence, your upstream metrics are the metrics that need a goal.
Since upstream metrics determine the performance of your KPIs, it’s vital that you identify them within your business. They’re the metrics that are dependent on daily efforts and can be affected in real-time. Meaning, you and/or your team can do something today that will immediately impact their performance.
Your front desk team is assigned the metric % of Phone Calls Answered Live. When a patient or potential patient calls the practice, they’re happier and more likely to schedule an appointment if they can easily talk to a live person. If the patient has to leave a message and wait for a call back, the percentage of patients scheduling dramatically goes down. Thus, the front desk team might set a goal to answer 90% of the calls that come in on any given day. If they miss a call, it immediately has a negative effect on the percentage and vice versa.
Once you’ve set clear production expectations for your downstream metrics, you can determine the appropriate goals needed for their upstream metrics in order to meet those expectations.
Example Goal Metric: Confirmed Appointments
Goal: 120 per Week
The performance of your upstream metrics will indicate two things: 1) the effectiveness of your systems and 2) your team members’ efforts to drive these systems. Monitoring their performance on a daily basis will help you assess where you need to spend time in your business improving production and flows.
Here are a few examples of upstream metrics your front desk team should be tracking and setting goals for on a daily/weekly basis:
Basically, you can either be proactive by monitoring your upstream metrics on a daily basis or reactive by only monitoring your KPIs. Ultimately, your upstream metrics feed your KPIs, giving you the opportunity to course-correct a drop in production before it affects your business. While a drop in your KPIs will affect your business, and the pain will force you to eventually deal with it.
So, train your team to set goals for their upstream metrics and relentlessly hit them. Ensure your office lead is monitoring these metrics on a daily basis. By doing this, you will stabilize your downstream KPIs, and in turn, the production of your business. Finally, you’ll have peace of mind that allows you to go home happy and sleep at night!