Article Date: 2/1/2005

o.d. to o.d.
A Happy New Year for Some
Forward-thinking practices will review and analyze numbers. Leading-edge practices will review, analyze and act on them.
BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O.,
Chief Optometric Editor

The first order of business this month is to thank those of you who wrote to tell us that you experienced exciting practice growth in 2004. More gratifying to see was that many of you attributed this growth to the simple strategies that this column recommended in the December 2003 issue (www.optometric.com/article.aspx?article=70908).

The young and the restless

It's interesting to note that the majority of the practitioners who wrote in identified themselves as newer practitioners. I guess that's why they tried the recommended techniques. But then, you know how new graduates can be -- eager . . . energetic . . . open-minded . . . willing to try new things -- even those that a fellow optometrist recommended.

Of course, you and I have seen the older, wiser optometrists refuse to try anything new. Yet I find it interesting that the sole reason that many optometrists won't try these proven strategies, tactics or management plans is because -- are you ready for this -- the idea came from another optometrist.

As amazing as it may be, it doesn't matter that the particular strategy, tactic or management plan has worked 100% of the time. It's that by employing them, these veteran optometrists would be, in effect, giving credit to someone else for a great idea. They would rather sit around and do nothing until they themselves are struck by lightening and left with an idea of their own.

What could be better than data?

So we're at the beginning of yet another year and opportunity is yet again knocking. The slate is clean and 2005 production has just started. For those of you who have your staff key valuable demographic information into your office management software, congratulations.

To those of you out there who have your staff enter valuable demographic information into your office management software and then actually sort, evaluate and identify profit and loss trends in your production, identify potential problems or opportunities for your practice profitability, bravo!

After all, data entered into practice management software and never looked at or data entered, looked at, understood and never acted on may as well not be keyed in at all. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you are a data collector and not a data analyzer at the same time, do your staff a favor and quit wasting time with data entry.

Go back in time

If however, you are planning on turning over a new leaf in 2005 and actually start reviewing and analyzing your practice demographic and financial data, as well as acting upon the opportunities identified, don't start with this year's data. Start with the data from two years ago, then move on to data from 2004. Once you've finished 2003 and 2004, then you can begin to manage 2005. Doing so will give you a two-year trend and the ability to set reasonable goals for you and your staff relative to production and profitability for 2005.

A 7% better year

For those who took the suggestion in December 2003 and at the end of 2004 realized that setting goals for and paying attention to production on a daily basis resulted in an average of 7% growth in practice production, it truly is a happy new year!

 



Optometric Management, Issue: February 2005