Have you ever heard of Taxi Magic? I doubt it. But I know for a fact you’ve heard of Uber—which is essentially the same thing. It just didn’t execute as well. Uber won at effective execution and is now valued at $76 billion.
Let’s talk about Dominos for a moment. In 2010, Dominos was failing, while their competition was thriving. Why? First of all, their competition was putting out a better product. People didn’t like Dominos pizza! Then, they shared customer complaints with the public that bashed their products: complaints that described their food as “cardboard” and it was “the worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had.” Dominos needed to execute a change, and fast. They changed their sauce, the melt of their cheese, their crust, and overall flavor. They also redesigned their stores so that customers could watch their pizzas being made right in front of them. They even built an app where one can see where his or her pizza is in the prep and delivery process. And today, you can even order Dominos by texting a pizza emoji.
Uber and Dominos are both great examples of the right execution that resulted in a winning business. In contrast, many companies fall short of excellence. They don’t set out to be subpar, it just happens—despite their best intentions. With that said, I present three simple directives for using metrics to optimize execution at your practice:
1. Focus on your practice.
Execution is about creating processes that will get you to your goal and then managing those processes on an ongoing basis using sound metrics. This takes focused time and energy.
Business owners let things slide when their focus is split in too many different directions. In the counseling world, people might try to run a practice as a part-time gig—one is also an adjunct professor or has a 9-5 job, or works contract hours at another agency, or is too busy seeing clients to focus on managing the practice (this last one, entrepreneur-guru Michael Gerber calls ‘working in the business, not on the business.’)
2. Set performance metrics.
What is the maximum number of late sessions you can manage? How quickly should phone calls be answered? What level of customer service is acceptable or remarkable? Creating performance metrics, measuring them, and monitoring them isn’t easy. It takes creativity and commitment. For example, if you run a group practice, how can you know if clients are seen on time? While you can’t verify this for every session, perhaps you can observe a cross section of five sessions for each counselor per week. Of those five sessions, did any begin late?
For customer service, perhaps create a matrix of desirable behaviors like “customer greeted with enthusiasm” and so on. The customer service representative is observed once per week or per day, conducted at random and receives immediate feedback on his or her performance. Identifying important performance metrics and developing methods for observing/measuring them will take time. But it’s important and effective.
3. Chart and share data on a regular basis.
At many companies, performance data sits in a spreadsheet (if it exists at all). The data is collected, but not reviewed. It certainly isn’t shared with the team. At my company, we’ve found that for performance data to have significant impact, we need to pull it out of the spreadsheet and chart it in a move visual way.
Today, we use a line or bar graphs with a black background and neon colors that show our progress on a performance metric over time. It has impact. And that impact is doubled when we print it and post it on the wall. And that impact is doubled again when top performers get bonuses (and bottom performers get coaching). Weekly data is more powerful than monthly because team members can modify their performance and see results in just a few days. For the same reason, monthly data is better than quarterly, or yearly, and so on.
About the Author:
Anthony Centore Ph.D. is Founder and CEO at Thriveworks--a counseling practice, focused on premium client care, with 80+ locations across the USA. He is Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and Author of How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice. Anthony is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.