Article Date: 3/1/2001

BUSINESS ADVISOR
Recession-Proofing Your Practice
Do you know how to keep your practice safe from a slowdown?
By Jerry Hayes, O.D.

It's been bound to happen sometime. After the longest expansion in post-World War II history, bad news is on the economic horizon. Manufacturing and production statistics are down and layoffs are up. Economists are reporting that we're either in a recession or we're headed toward one.

The question for optometrists is: How will a recession impact your practice and what can you do?

Keeping perspective

By historic standards, economic times are still good. Optometrists reported all-time- high net earnings in the 2000 calendar year. The NASDAQ is off 40% to 3,000, but it was only at 1,000 5 years ago. The Dow Jones index is below 11,000, but it was only half of that in 1996. Despite recent layoffs, the national unemployment rate is still as low as it has been in the last 30 years.

The biggest obstacle your practice will probably face in 2001 is a decline in consumer confidence. However, look for several silver linings when the economy slows down:

ILLUSTRATION BY ALAN KING 

Protect yourself

Beyond trying to look on the bright side, work on some of these concrete goals for your practice:

It's all in the attitude

If you experience a slow down, take it in stride, realizing that good times are just down the road. This isn't the time to exhibit a negative attitude to your staff or patients.

Make sure that your office is an oasis of professionalism and success. That's the attitude that will attract desirable staff and patients to your door in good times and bad. 

Dr. Hayes is director of the Center for Practice Excellence. You can direct practice finance questions to him by fax at (904) 273- 1224, or by e-mail at askjerry@e-dr. com.


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2001