Article Date: 3/1/2009

A New Mantra For Time Management
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A New Mantra For Time Management

How to win while your competition agonizes over getting things just right.


If you're like most clients we first meet, you've got a rather lengthy to-do list filled with some quality practice-building ideas. You've started many of the tasks on your list and stalled. I really can't recount how many times I've heard comments like: "I have this great concept to market my services to the local hockey team, and I started by writing this introductory letter. Here, take a look, but keep in mind it's not done yet." Or, "Here's some notes and sketches for a newspaper ad. It's rough and not finished, but you'll get the idea."

Striving for perfection

Striving for perfection in your practice is admirable and essential, especially on the clinical care side of things. We want our patients to experience the absolute best vision and eye health, and we work hard to do that. Of course, we want the same for our practice's financial health. Given the time constraints of an active, wired new millennium life, however, we never seem to have time to get our practice's financial health projects, "just right." As a result, they wind up on a dusty to do list or in the long-forgotten computer file. Let me introduce you to your new time management mantra: Accept less than perfect execution, and move on.

Is less than perfect ok?

"What? A practice-building guy is telling me my attempts at improving my business don't have to be perfect? That's doesn't sound right." Sure it's right. When the options are doing nothing vs. doing something that's nearly finished and maybe not quite perfect, the risk of not acting outweighs the risk of acting on less than all eight cylinders. Here's why.

Your competitors are all in the same boat and all subject to the same powerful inertia. Waiting until they get it "just right" is your opportunity to usurp and beat them to the proverbial marketing punch. "You snooze, you lose" applies here. However, the bigger concept is to realize that in this case, the first car crossing the finish line doesn't necessarily have to be the prettiest or most polished. Rather, it just has to be there, finish — and win! Accepting less than perfect, lets you achieve this. Consider this example:

The letter to the hockey team that we discussed is finished. But for some reason, it just doesn't look quite right to you. You worked on it for a few minutes between patients and after delaying and procrastinating — due to fear of producing a less the stellar result — you wound up missing last years' hockey season. Now, you're revisiting it. Ten months later, you remember why you never sent it. You couldn't decide whether you should offer the team a complimentary contact lens consultation or $30 off a pair of glasses. You feel cold and clammy again as you stress about your quest for perfection. My advice: Flip a coin, and get started.

The worst case scenario

Look at the worse case scenario, which really isn't that bad and certainly better than doing nothing. That would be, you picked the "wrong" promotion. In the event you choose the dollar-off promotion and no one showed up, two important things have happened:

1. You made contact with the hockey team, introduced yourself and your practice and scored some practice-building points with the decision makers.

2. You determined that "dollar-off deals with the hockey team don't work." You now know that next time you approach them, you'll try something else.

By acting now, you're a step ahead of your competitors, who still have their promotions sitting on their desks. The trick: Make sure you expediently launch your next idea, and don't dwell on making that one perfect. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2009