Optometric Management Tip # 83   -   Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Perform a SWOT Analysis on your practice

Like any well-run business, your practice needs a marketing plan. That does not mean you need to advertise, but rather that it is important to know your market - your patients and your community. Are you providing what the potential pool of patients wants?

A good way to start that plan is to conduct a SWOT analysis - which is an acronym for: Strengths -- Weaknesses -- Opportunities - Threats. Write each of these words on a blank sheet of paper and ask yourself how your practice rates in each of these categories. Obviously, you must be brutally honest and objective, and it is important to get the input of others. Ask your staff for their opinions, as well as a spouse or friends. The good things are easy to list, but you may have to get a tough skin to hear the weak areas.

Once you have your list, consider how well it matches your philosophy of practice. Is it the kind of practice you set out to build? Are you on track to meet your goals? A threat to one model of practice may have little impact on another.

The strengths will form the core attributes about your practice that you should promote - make sure the public knows about these. The weaknesses are the factors that need your attention and a plan to change. Opportunities are goals that you can pursue and invest in. Threats require strategies to insulate your practice and to turn negatives into positives.

This kind of reflection is valuable to your practice; its part of your ever changing business plan. After the SWOT analysis, ask yourself what are your competitive advantages? Or, why would a new patient select your practice over all the others in the community? If you have trouble coming up with a few solid reasons, you may need to develop a stronger competitive advantage.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management