Article Date: 3/1/2008

Solutions For Stressful Practices
fix this practice

Solutions For Stressful Practices

Proper management can relieve stress and build a high-performance practice.

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q Should I enter independent optometry after seven years as an employee? I'm hesitant because I know of private-practice owners who exhibit depression from the stresses of being an owner.

Dr. B.C. Cohen
via e-mail

A: Owning a private practice is not for sissies. The advantages are significant, but this subject requires comparison. The owner builds equity and develops and controls the mode of practice. He or she makes final decisions. The owner handles staff issues and works after hours. The owner controls income and is responsible for practice growth and profitability.

In comparison, the employee does not realize equity. While not involved in any final decisions or staffing issues, the employee works a specific schedule and usually earns a salary based on production.

Many doctors do not understand the immense responsibility and time commitment of practice ownership. Staffing and net profit are the most intense areas to attack.

These demands challenge doctors who have no ownership experience. Some make a naive attempt to accommodate each employees scheduling desires. Notice to all: It cannot work. Employees who start and end work at multiple different times create chaos with no employee or patient-care continuity.

In a managed-care environment, net income is difficult to achieve, yet there are solutions, such as maximizing medical optometry, adding optometric specialties and raising unit sales per patient. In order to accomplish this, it takes energy, focus, enthusiasm and a relentless ability to make proper decisions. It is not just about the lease, equipment and inventory. Success depends deploying check-and-balance systems that control the pulse of your practice.

ILLUSTRATION BY DARON PARTON

Partners in stress

Two O.D.'s called my company. They had been 50/50 partners for 15 years and recently built a new professional building. They stated that they were both on medication and under psychiatric care due to staff turnover, no staff control, potential embezzlement and flat growth. One owner had missed several clinic days due to anxiety.

Both dreaded going to the office. This was not due to optometry but an operation that had fallen "out of bounds." NO PRACTICE PULSE + LACK OF CONTROL = STRESS.

The stress of business ownership was underestimated. My solution was to evaluate each staffer and determine if he/she had the ability to become a "quality employee." We developed a quality staff who understood the goals of the practice. We implemented standard operating procedures. Owners developed a daily pulse of the practice by developing awareness skills and check-and-balance systems.

Per the O.D.s' permission, I met with the psychiatrist who recommended selling the practice once it was under control. The M.D. said the owners would have never experienced depression had they kept proper management throughout their odyssey.

As stated, independent ownership is not for sissies.

You invested in property, equipment and inventory. You must also invest in the proper management. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.



Optometric Management, Issue: March 2008