Article Date: 1/1/2002

o.d. to o.d.
Optometrists and Management Consultants
OM welcomes Dr. Gary Gerber as a regular columnist.
BY NEIL B. GAILMARD, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

I am very happy to announce the addition of Dr. Gary Gerber to the amazing list of regular columnists in this journal. Dr. Gerber's debut column, "View from the Top," appears this month on page 18. Most optometrists know Gary as a leading consultant and entertaining lecturer in practice management -- he has quite a following. He has written for OM in the past, but we're now pleased to bring you Gary's innovative ideas in a regular monthly department.

What's the buzz about?

I've known Gary for years, but I wanted to find out exactly what all the buzz was about, so I asked a couple of his consulting clients.

When Dr. Bethany Fishbein and her husband, Dr. Jonathon Fishbein, recently opened a practice in Somerset, NJ, they retained Gary from the start. When I asked what's unique about Gary, Bethany said "Besides his hair?! (Just kidding)." (Check out Gary's photo on page 18.)

"Gary's brand of consulting is aggressive and high-tech, which matches the personality of our practice," Bethany continued. "From the very beginning, he taught us to think as entrepreneurs . . . NOT as optometrists! He gave us a 'required reading list' at our first meeting. Gary doesn't follow a cookbook formula for consulting -- he deals with each situation as it comes up and gives advice that's specific to our practice and situation."

Dr. David Imes asked Dr. Gerber to consult on his practice in Stevens Point, WI. "He's real!" David said about Gary. "He will tell you what you're doing well, what you're not doing well, and what you can do better. His ideas are practical and can be implemented by anyone who is committed to success in optometry. He has tested his ideas before he recommends them, so you know they have worked in dozens of other top practices. Gary helped me develop a plan for success, not just a hope."

Balancing clinical and business training

The American Academy of Optometry meeting in Philadelphia last month was great, as usual. As practicing optometrists, we strive to learn more about managing vision anomalies and eye disease, but we also want to build our practices and foster our career goals.

On the management side of our efforts, we have choices. Practitioners can pursue practice management on their own (by reading this magazine and by attending CE lectures on business topics), or they can hire a consultant to advise and guide them. Smart practitioners do both. We often equate consultants with high fees ­ but almost every doctor who has hired one will tell you that the service quickly paid for itself and left an ongoing stream of greater profits. After all, optometrists receive years of formal training in eye care, but few have had any training in business. That business acumen is what consultants ­ and this magazine -- can offer you.

One of many practice management experts

While Dr. Gerber is our newest columnist, I also want to acknowledge and thank the practice management gurus who have been sharing their ideas in these pages for years. Veterans like Dr. Dick Kattouf, Dr. Jerry Hayes, Dr. Bobby Christensen, Dr. Jack Runninger and Dr. Irving Bennett have been the mainstays of this magazine, and we look forward to much more from them. Drs. Kattouf and Hayes have counseled thousands of optometric clients to practice success and they unselfishly share their valuable concepts in OM each month. Dr. Christensen is both an astute businessman and an advanced clinician, a rare combination. And Dr. Runninger (former OM Editor), along with Dr. Bennett (former OM publisher/owner), are my mentors in management writing and consulting. I continue to learn from both of them.

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Optometric Management, Issue: January 2002