What Are SMART Goals and How Can They Help Your Dental Practice Grow?

Posted by Amy Carbone on Jun 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Goal-setting may be an important part of running a successful dental office, but the process of setting goals itself can be difficult to establish. Where do you focus your energy? How do you bring staff on board and — more importantly — make sure they're on the same page?

One way to coordinate goals is to implement SMART methodology. 

What Are SMART Goals?

Although no one is really sure who first identified the concept, George T. Doran is the first person to mention the acronym SMART as a principle behind goal-setting in a 1981 issue of Management Review. 

Paul Meyer later refined the SMART approach in Attitude is Everything! — If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond! This simple metric lets you develop achievable goals rather than vague imperatives.

The SMART acronym consists of the following five elements: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.


Specific means that goals must be clear and task-related. For example, something like "Review consumable orders for the past six months" is more specific and actionable than "Look at invoices."

Specific goals are designed to lead to an outcome. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, why the goal is important, and who the best person is to execute the goal. 


Measurable means the goal has an outcome that you can quantify. For instance, "Increase the number of new patients by 5% in one year's time" instead of "Increase business."

This one can be hard for new business owners to keep in mind because checking outcomes can feel daunting. After all, what if you come up short? 

However, having measurable outcomes allows you to definitively assess your progress toward a goal instead of guessing. Then, if you see that your measurement fell short, you can make a change in the next month or so to see if it improves.


Achievable means that your goal has to be possible. In this case, a goal like "Landscape the bed next to the front entrance" would be more realistic than "Landscape the entire outside of the property."

If your goals are too big or aspirational, you could be setting yourself up for failure by shooting for an accomplishment that’s not attainable. 

While it’s important to set your sights high, setting them too high could have a detrimental effect instead of an inspiring one. Shoot for the stars — but make sure the stars are within your grasp as well!


Relevant means that your goals should be related to areas that help you grow. A goal like “Increase the number of new patients this quarter by 30” refers to your practice’s success, while “Add two chairs to the waiting room” lacks that same impact. 

A goal is relevant if it's worthwhile to your practice to pursue or related to a goal that helps you grow. 


Time-bound means that goals must have a deadline. "Complete office survey by Friday" is a time-bound goal, while "Complete office survey" is vague in terms of a deadline. 

If you don't set a deadline for a goal, it’s probably less likely to be met. Always make sure that you schedule goals and include a completion date.

SMART Goals for Dental Offices

Setting SMART goals for your dental office may be a good way to seek to boost productivity and instill confidence in your staff. They will now not only understand their responsibilities better, but also how those individual responsibilities reflect team goals. 

Discuss SMART goals for your dental assistants and SMART goals for your dental hygienists (as well as every other member of the staff) during your next team meeting. You may want to develop a flow chart where goals for the entire practice are broken down into individual responsibilities.

For instance, suppose your goal is to increase the number of office appointments by five percent this quarter. Each member of the staff can have a task related to that larger SMART goal. 

Your hygienist may mail cards to your patients, your office manager may start looking into social media opportunities, and you may revisit your accepted insurance options. 

In this way, each member of your team can have an impact on the larger goal of increasing business and growing the practice. It’s also possible for everyone to recognize that they’re contributing to the company’s overall pursuit of success, and they play a vital role in keeping your practice open. 

Do you want to learn more about how you can grow your practice? 

Consider reading this blog about eight ways you can seek to grow your business.

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Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.

Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel Inc.

Treloar & Heisel, Inc. and its divisions do not offer practice management advice. Please consult a professional concerning this topic.

Topics: Dental Practice Business Tips