Needs. Wants. Attainable wishes.

Well we’re only part way through January and I can pat myself on the back. One resolution gets a big fat tick – ‘put my needs first’. Having just spent a blissfully self-indulgent weekend at Champneys Health Spa, I feel refreshed, re-energised and really excited about 2011. Sprawling in the jacuzzi, my mind drifted to something I learned from my coach and mentor: “People find the money for things they want, not what they need”. This was certainly true of the Champneys weekend. Yes, of course I wanted it, but I also really did need it. Last year a family member became very ill, which rocked our stability and sent stress levels through the roof. I needed to be kind to myself and recharge those tired batteries in order to stay strong and effective for the future.

I pondered further on the wants/needs issue. How and where else might it apply? However much I may want a new car, do I really need one? The answer is no. Do I really need those fab new boots? Well yes, actually, the heels just came adrift on my current best pair. As the list went on, I realised that effective planning for 2011 ought to be about investing only in things that I want and need or, more importantly, need and want.

How might this apply to you and your practice? Have you identified your needs and wants? Do you need and want new patients? Yes certainly. If so, how might you entice them through your door? Do you need and want a new dental chair? You may well want one but do you really really need it? You get the gist. Being a great one for lists, I see this as a two-column affair. The trick is to prioritise and action only those things with a tick in both the need and the want columns.

“I need new patients’ is an all too familiar cry these days. If these words have ever left your lips, think hard about what you have been investing in to date. Is yours a WOW-looking practice that will draw patients in? Do you have a striking, contemporary, memorable, stylish brand image by which you are known? What is the first impression your practice makes – clean, attractive, professional, welcoming? Or are you still displaying a tatty and dated sign? Horror of horrors – do people actually know you are there? Fab and functioning website? Stunning and informative welcome pack?

My guess is that many practices are in great need of a rebrand and probably want to feel proud of their image – but just haven’t got around to it or have spent the budget elsewhere. Coming back to dental chairs… I’ve seen many a dentist enthuse proudly about the £25k they’ve parted with to buy one, but never once heard a patient say “I chose my dentist as he has the best chair in town.” In these times of recession, not to mention the hike in VAT, the return on investments is paramount. It seems to me that, unless in relation to a new start up, the chair passion is pretty much driven by want alone.

This is a great time of year for planning and already I have had calls from several new clients who have been toying with the idea of rebranding for some time and are now raring to go ahead. In with the new, let’s start as we mean to go on and get the priorities right.

I have decided to rename anything with a tick in both the need and want columns as an attainable wish. Not an ‘airy fairy some day one day’ wish, but a real ‘make it happen this year’ wish. My aim for 2011, therefore, is to ensure my wishes are fulfilled.

Checking out of Champneys, I felt proud of my investment and am now looking forward to ticking off the next thing on my attainable wish list. As for the Elemis bag containing a mass of indulgent potions driven solely by want want want, we’re all allowed to slip a little here and there!