What is your competitive edge?

Take this quiz to determine your aptitude and identify new ways to improve key strategic problems in practice
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Sep 01, 2004

In a world of look alikes, what is your practice's competitive advantage? In my experience, if you ask practice owners, managers or employees that question, then most will say that they are a "high-quality" or a "full-service" practice. Who isn't? Furthermore, if your answer is no different from anyone else's, then aren't you really saying that you are much the same as everyone else?

If you want to create a clear competitive advantage for your practice, it is first necessary to have a clear goal, one that inspires people to work passionately to achieve it. There is risk, however, even for a practice that has a clear goal because it still can loose its competitive advantage. Take the practice that had a goal that they were lucky enough to achieve: They wanted to build a new hospital, master ultrasound diagnostics, or pioneer new pain-management protocols or a surgical technique. One day, they do it. Then they stop. They have achieved their goal. But the world around them hasn't stopped. Inevitably, it catches up and swamps them in the sea of mediocrity. The lesson is: Having a clear goal is only the starting point; once achieved, a new goal always must be set.

It is not necessary to compare yourself to others to create a competitive advantage. Instead, put energy into creating a concrete vision of what you want your practice to become and then work to achieve it. Creating a competitive advantage is about becoming the best at what you have chosen and stamping it with your own style — doing it your way. It is about keeping things fresh and always setting new goals to stay ahead. It is hard work and it takes continuous effort, but it will help shape your practice's reputation and help you attract and keep the staff and clients you want.

Take this quiz to find out where you are at creating a competitive advantage for your practice.

Instructions: Answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions. See the Answer Key at the end of the quiz for feedback on your answers.

  • Can you clearly articulate your vision for the practice in 50 words or less?
  • Have you written your vision down on paper?
  • Would others in your practice be able to articulate the vision to an outsider?
  • Have you worked with your team to create hard goals/targets for the year to help achieve the practice's vision?
  • Would others in your practice be able to say what they do in their roles to help achieve the vision?
  • Can you explain, clearly and succinctly, what you do to lead and achieve the vision?
  • Do you hold regular team meetings to reinforce what you are doing and why, and do you report progress toward the practice's vision and goals?
  • Does the practice's literature and Web site reflect the vision?
  • Does the practice's appearance and equipment support the vision?
  • Would the way your clients describe the practice fit your vision?

Scoring: How many times did you answer "yes"?

  • 8-10: You are well on your way to building a clear competitive advantage for your practice. Don't stop now!
  • 5-7: You are headed in the right direction, but you have much work to do to create a clear competitive advantage. Pick one or two things to work on that could make the biggest difference and get started!
  • 4 or less: It is important for you to get more clear on what you want for the practice, set goals and enlist others to help you achieve it.