Counting What Counts
The numbers you need to measure your impact on others
DAVE ZIEGLER, O.D.
Numbers rule in many areas of practice. Measuring revenue per patient, net profit, practice growth and various other metrics can determine whether you invest in new equipment, hire more staff or bring in new frame lines.
We quantify these numbers mainly for one reason: to measure success. And whether you are the type who measures and analyzes all aspects of your practice or someone who measures very little, we all have different ways of determining success.
Albert Einstein is said to have displayed a sign on his wall at Princeton University that said, “Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts.” He was well aware that numbers are not king, and that outcomes cannot always be calculated, predicted or measured.
There are many intangible aspects of running a practice, yet we still search for meaning in the numbers we collect and analyze. You might compare your gross revenues to other doctors, looking for their approval and respect of your business skills. Or, you may be doing staff reviews to determine raises, if any.
It seems as though we can’t get away from counting things that seem to count. But do they really? How do we truly measure the impact we have on the lives of those we employ or help to see?
Here are three numbers I believe are worth counting.
1 The average number of years your staff has been with you
It says a lot when you gather great people to join you on your lifelong task of being an eyecare provider, and they choose to stay with you for a long time. When people change employment, they are more often quitting their boss, not their job.
Treat your staff like employees, and that’s just what you’ll get. They’ll leave you for 50 cents extra an hour. Treat them like the valuable people they are, however, and they will honor you with their loyalty.
2 The number of free pairs of glasses you gave away last year
Consider keeping a special fund in your office for those who are less fortunate that your staff can use to give products away. There are many people who fall between the cracks who really need your help. There are people like missionaries who put their lives on the line each day in desolate countries who live off donations. Find ways to give free glasses away.
3 The number of times per week that your office is complimented
Keep track of when a patient compliments your staff on being kind and accommodating or how well they cared for her. Count how often you hear patients say how much they love coming to your office because of the way the whole place feels and how they are treated.
Satisfied patients may or may not return in the future. Loyal patients always will.
Beyond dollar amounts
These are just a few of the meaningful numbers that you could start counting. When you align yourself and your practice with this type of vision, you will reap a different type of reward than a healthy bottom line. OM
DR. ZIEGLER IS A SENIOR PARTNER IN A GROUP PRIVATE PRACTICE IN MILWAUKEE, WISC., AND A FELLOW OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OPTOMETRY. E-MAIL HIM AT DAVEAZIEGLER@GMAIL.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.