Every single year, it’s on the same day. December 25th. And yet, for some reason, there are some people who will always act surprised about it! They don’t budget accordingly, and then they get an unpleasant shock when they actually remember to check their finances.
There’s no doubt that the holidays are one of the best times of the year, and a great reason to spend extra time with family, (even those relatives that moved to the other side of the country.) But the holidays can also be the most stressful and financially damaging time of the year… IF you don’t plan ahead.
Three things always, always, always happen in December.
1) your team (and maybe you, too) lose focus because of all the holiday distractions.
2) you (your associates, and your hygienists) lose some production days because of vacation
3) you spend more money than any time of year on gifts, party supplies, food, etc.
So how do you keep from waking up from a post-Christmas food coma and realizing you’ve screwed yourself over? Here are three basic tips to help minimize the stress.
1) December is the time to invest. No kidding, this is the best time of the year for you to invest in anything you want for your Practice next year. Equipment, trainings, etc. Buy it NOW, rather than waiting until 2015. Do you know why? The more money that is sitting in your bank account at the end of this calendar year the MORE taxes you’ll have to pay! If you want to invest in a $12,000 training for your team in 2015, PAY for it now. Otherwise, that’s just an extra 12,000 bucks sitting in your bank account at the end of December, and it is going to disappear into owed taxes.
2) Treat your staff, but amp up the focus. Christmas is the most distracting time of the entire year. Everyone is thinking about what to buy for Aunt Deb, what side dish to bring to the party, what hotel to book for their vacation, yada yada. You need to really reign in your team and remind them that incentives work the same way as always. They aren’t allowed to just “check out” because of the holidays… In fact, they need to over-deliver for their paycheck, and that means focusing more than ever.
However, I also believe in giving your team a chance to celebrate the holidays together, which is why I throw an annual Holiday Party. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Just make sure your team knows how much you appreciate them, and take some time to celebrate the year outside of the office.
3) Carefully budget for the season. Question: How often do you end up spending LESS than you expected during the holidays? “Oh wow honey, we just have SO much extra money left over after that shopping trip! I guess we’ll just put it in savings!” The truth is, you need to create a budget and stick to it… Which means creating a realistic plan. If you start planning for the extra money you’re going to spend in December a few months earlier, you CAN make up for it! You just need to bump up your Practice’s New Patient and production goals. Concentrate your efforts on getting a couple extra New Patients per week, and December won’t hit your wallet so hard after all!
Remember, the holidays are for focusing on what we’re thankful for, and for spending time with our families… Not for arguing! It can be easy to argue when you’re under financial stress, so make a point of being prepared this holiday season.
Until next time,