Article Date: 2/1/2001

O.D. TO O.D.
Field of Optometric Dreams
Visualize your future practice, and it will be so.
By Neil B. Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O. Chief Optometric Editor

One of my favorite movies of all time is the 1989 baseball film Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. This film presents so many good lessons about life. The most famous line from the movie actually has a great corollary with practice management:

"If you build it . . . they will come."

This adage also rings true for us.

Following the dream

When I first started my practice, fresh out of school in 1976, I had one part-time receptionist, many loans and no patients at all.

I did everything myself in those days -- the pretesting, selecting and ordering frames, verifying, dispensing and repairing eyeglasses, even answering phones sometimes.

But I always kept a vision of my dream practice in my mind. I could see it very clearly, and it didn't look anything like what I had at the time.

After years of borrowing and reinvesting, my dream practice emerged.

What I didn't worry about

One thing I didn't worry about too much during the tough years was the net of the practice -- I concentrated on increasing the gross! I believed I had to spend money to make money.

These days, we're still reinvesting, and the practice is still growing.

Deciding when the time is right to spend money in the practice is much like the "Which comes first -- the chicken or the egg?" question.

In consulting with doctors, I'm often asked the following questions:

I say, if you wait for a crystal-clear solution, it may never come.

Why wait for your practice to become busy before taking the next step toward your dream? Invest in your practice first, and it will grow. You can do this in a responsible way, one step at a time -- just don't stop.

Think big

As you visualize your ideal practice, don't be afraid to think big.

What would your dream practice look like? Visualize the resources you'd have available in your office, and realize how much you'd enjoy practicing there. Once you achieve some of your goals, the momentum will continue, creating an upward spiral of success. Go the distance.

You may recall the end of Field of Dreams. The camera pans away to reveal an unending line of cars heading toward the farm where Costner built his baseball field for the ghosts of the Chicago White Sox. The spectators came. So will the patients.

You may contact Dr. Gailmard at

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2001