Article Date: 3/1/2007

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Learn and Earn Through Repetition
You don’t need to be a manufacturer to value the processes you do over and over.


Jim Thomas

Manufacturers will send teams of engineers to study a single process again and again. Their reason for this investment is straightforward: If companies can cut even the most miniscule costs or add the tiniest efficiencies to a repetitive task, then over a period of time they can add significant value to their systems. Optometrists don’t have a team of engineers, but you do have several scenarios that play out many times in a typical workday. One of the most valuable to both patients and the practice is the face-to-face time that the doctor spends with the patient. Industry studies tell us that more often than not, patients follow the recommendations of their doctor, so the consultation is a time when patients — and significant income — can be lost or gained.
A little addition

By making recommendations consistently and regularly at every consultation, optometrists can easily add tens of thousands of dollars to their practices with little or no investment. Here’s a modest example: An optometrist makes recommendations to six patients a day. Fifty percent of the patients accept the recommendations, which provide an average profit of $40 per recommendation. This amounts to $120 per day, $600 per week and $30,000 in a 50-week work year. There are minor challenges in making recommendations. Practices must keep up-to-date with the latest products and services. In addition, O.D.s must understand the specific needs of each patient in their practice.
Sales pitch or service?
While some may cry “sales pitch,” it can be argued that in the area of product recommendations, patients are often underserved. And this includes even the most basic ophthalmic products. “No one ever discussed contact lenses with me until I finally asked,” says one patient of her experiences at several of practices. “Now I can’t imagine living without contacts.” Evidence suggests this isn’t an isolated case. In a press conference at SECO International, Rick Weisbarth, O.D., vice president, global head of professional development and partners, CIBA Vision, said that only one in ten eyecare professionals initiates a discussion about contact lenses with their patients. Today, patients have diverse visual needs. They seek improvements to their eyesight and ocular health, so there’s no need to hesitate. Make the recommendation. Patients will appreciate the personalized service, as will your practice.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2007