Article Date: 2/1/2009

Don't Forget to Project the Attitude

Don't Forget to Project the Attitude

A confident, strong leader can be reassuring to both patients and staff.

Jim Thomas

While working on this month's cover article on how to protect and grow an optometric practice ("Are You Covered," in Features section), I was impressed not only by the creativity and scope of ideas presented, which range from cutting costs to investing wisely, but also by the air of leadership and confidence of the doctors who participated in the article. In stressful times, such attitudes make a big difference, especially as peers, staff and patients scrutinize your words and actions more closely.

The acquisition question

Ten years ago, I edited a magazine that was acquired by its direct competitor. At the time of the news, I was traveling with our sales representative to several customer meetings. Each customer greeted us with the same question: Why would I do business with your publication when you may not exist in another year? His response was always the same.

"You do business with us because of the service we provide that you can't get anywhere else," he said. "If anything, the acquisition will make us stronger by providing you with additional services. It's a tremendous time to be advertising with us."

I don't know whether it was the words he said or the confidence with which he said them, but the trip was a success. Ten years, later, he remains one of the most successful sales reps in the industry he serves.

The show of confidence

Optometrists can instill confidence in their staffs and patients by delivering the right message.

"In a slow economy you must project confidence and high energy to your staff and patients" says Richard S. Kattouf, O.D., a leading consultant and member of OM's Editorial Board. "The owners (doctors) must understand that there is a ‘filter down phenomenon.’ If the owner is depressed and worried it filters down throughout the staff to the patients."

Confidence can be delivered in both words and actions. Consider your impression on patients when they see your investment in the latest technology. Or how about the impact on staff when you continue to invest in their professional development? For example, each month Ted A. McElroy, O.D., Tifton, Ga., sends staff to a leadership seminar located 200 miles from the office.

We know the economy is cyclical, with "a recession every seven to eight years," says Pamela Miller, O.D., Highland, Calif. We also know that patients require eye care, regardless of economic reports. This means, as always, it's a great time to deliver the best and deliver it with attitude. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2009