Article Date: 1/1/2009

Time to Get Rid of The Clones
fix this practice

Time to Get Rid of The Clones

How can you differentiate your practice? By making things happen.

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

Q When I travel, I often visit the offices of independent optometrists. It seems to me that most O.D.s practice in a very similar fashion. You've made comments about "separating yourself from the crowd." Why are optometrists like clones?

Dr. M.A. Anderson
via e-mail

A: Three types of people exist:

• Those who make things happen (Category I);

• Those who watch things happen (Category II);

• Those who say "What happened?" (Category III).

Which type are you?

I've found that many doctors haven't invested in their practice in 10 or more years. This negligence prevents the practice from giving back to the patient, as it keeps the clinic and optical department from becoming "state of the art."

The doctor who "makes things happen" attends to detail. His or her practice furniture and décor are both extremely appealing and comfortable. In addition, these practitioners tend to invest in at least one new clinical instrument or optical upgrade per year and add more specialized inventory to their optical department. Further, some have specialized their practice in areas of community needs, such as pediatrics, low vision, developmental vision, corneal refractive therapy or computer vision syndrome. You should consider doing all the same things.

Doctors who don't follow this advice "watch" their competition succeed, surpass them financially and ask "What happened?" If these O.D.s attempt to sell their practice, they'd discover the appraised value is much lower than what they anticipated. Optometry is in a "buyers" market, so most potential buyers make offers well below the appraisal. If you own your practice for 30 or more years without making upgrades, the goodwill value of your practice is only a fraction of what it could've been.


ILLUSTRATION BY SIMON SHAW

Never stop

You should never stop "making things happen." When your entire career is in this mode, your experience is enjoyable and financially rewarding. Those practitioners who "make things happen" are more involved in paying forward and participate vigorously in any area that can improve optometry. This could include the politics of healthcare, academia or publishing.

In addition, practitioners who "make things" happen at their practice(s) have a certain "feel" when I telephone and certainly when I perform an on-site consultation. Specifically, staff training and knowledge and intra-office communication all scream a message of high professionalism. (Call an upscale hotel followed by a cheap motel, and you'll get a clear idea as to what I mean.) A first impression via phone or in the reception area immediately identifies which type of practitioner you are.

Note that my ophthalmologist clients are almost all in the "make things happen" category prior to my consultation.

Do some self-reflection. If your net income is flat; your gross income is barely increasing; your stressed out; your staff is out of control; and the competition is eating your lunch; I guarantee you've fallen into category II or III. The good news: You can reverse it with focus and desire.

I'll end with a couple of motivational quotes:

The road to success is always under construction.

To be a success in a practice, be daring, be first and be different. 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: January 2009