BUSINESS: business strategies
Earn More With Three Words
See fewer patients.
GARY GERBER, O.D.
Yes — it’s really that easy. This article is not about seeing fewer patients who spend less money (thereby leaving those who spend more). Rather, it’s about seeing fewer of any patient, regardless of how much they spend, whether they are an eyeglass or contact lens wearer or are visiting your practice for VT or a medical problem. Want to make more money? Then stop seeing so many patients.
Too busy to make money?
This advice applies to just about any practice, including those practice owners who feel that the reason for your anemic revenue is too few patients. For nearly every practice, the challenge with seeing patients is that, well, you’re busy seeing patients. . . instead of thinking of ways to grow your business. The axiom “work on your practice, not just in your practice” proves itself over and over as words of practice-building wisdom.
Industry wide, even for those with two to three patients per day, there is an overwhelming lack of focused, planned and productive time spent on specific practice-building activities. Essentially, many of us are “too busy” to make more money.
Without question, our most successful doctor-clients are those who personally see the fewest patients. Through coaching (and sometimes prodding), they have come to the realization that the amount of revenue generated during a single patient encounter is markedly less than what they can generate through better managing their practices. For example, if two patient encounters take one hour of the doctor’s time and generate an average of $1,000 (and that’s being extremely generous), a productive directed hour spent honing your recall system or reworking your frame-pricing model (to name just two of a gazillion examples) will generate way more than $1,000 through the life of your practice.
The full-schedule conundrum
Those with packed appointment schedules can relate: Stuck on the treadmill of a constant flow of patients, you have deluded yourself to believe that as long as your schedule is full, you’re in good shape. The reality is you lose a considerable amount of money by failing to carve out time away from patients to tackle your to-do list. A full appointment book rarely translates to a full checkbook.
For those with less than a full schedule, seeing fewer patients can also work, but there’s a twist. In this case, I advocate seeing fewer patients on certain days (and more on others) or certain times of the day to allow for uninterrupted practice-building work. For example, if your practice is new and you have two to three patients per day scheduled, condense days to make slower days appear busy. That part is easy and hopefully obvious. The harder, less obvious action is to make sure that on your days “off” you are diligently working on building your practice. That time can be spent networking in the community, working on a marketing plan or anything else that will accelerate your patient volume.
The doctor vs. the CEO
Realize that the doctor in the practice always generates less money than the CEO. A harsh reality is that many doctors can examine your patients: You are one of many. There is, however, only one CEO of your practice, and it’s your obligation to spend time on activities that only you, the CEO, can execute. OM
Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: April 2014, page(s): 54