view from the top
Take Time Off to Profit The Practice
Business experts are at your disposal. In fact,
they're in your exam chair!
you've been practicing in the same location for more than a few years, you've probably
already experienced "office automobile auto-pilot" syndrome. You get in your car,
you don't really think about where you're going and somehow, you always wind
up at your office. Even on your days off, you find yourself driving to the office.
Here's a way to jumpstart your practice-building, creativity juices and gather lots
of great ideas. Tomorrow, don't drive to your office. Take a day off and drive somewhere
BY SIMON SHAW
all had patients who share stories about their interesting or sometimes not
so interesting occupations. And while one of the parts we play is doctor,
we are also part educator. Our patients can educate us as well, and they can do
it while they are at work. We can learn a lot from our non-optometrist patients
about how to run our practices.
If you have patients who are in the restaurant
or hotel industry, they can offer a wealth of valuable ideas. Take note of how phones
calls are answered and handled, how guests are greeted, treated and followed-up
on. You can also learn a lot about inventory management. Better restaurants only
use fresh ingredients. Their margins can be destroyed if they don't manage their
inventories carefully. Eyeglasses don't go stale, but frames go in an out of fashion
Also be alert to the systems that drive
these businesses. How does the housekeeping service know to make up every room,
exactly the same way, every time? Are you frustrated when your contact lens training
area isn't fully stocked with the right solutions? Ask the hotel staff how they
know exactly where to put the shampoo, soap, etc. Watch, listen and learn.
Retail keeps it real
Retailers can fill our idea reservoir with selling
techniques and meticulous inventory control. Any successful retail enterprise knows:
how much of an item to stock; how to analyze sales trends, locate and display merchandise;
how often to change displays and how to ensure someone oversees all these tasks.
If your opticians don't consistently talk to patients about prescription sunglasses,
ask how retail cashiers are trained to ask every customer, "Would you like sign
up for our mailing list, apply for our credit card, etc.?" Take advantage of this
exercise. You're getting a "back-stage" pass to observe what you'll never see, or
learn, as a shopper.
You might not immediately see the parallel between
your medical eye care practice and a manufacturing plant. But consider: You both
have employees and challenges managing them. How do other industries ensure compliance
with policies and procedures? Do their employees get paid for the July 4th holiday
if it falls on a Sunday? Do employees get paid for snow days? In your practice,
you usually figure it out as you go along. What does the factory down the street
Your patients in other businesses might
not have all the answers, but spending some time observing them can show you a side
of business management you might not have considered. Make it a point to visit three
or four different businesses every year. And don't forget, your patient will probably
introduce you to coworkers, so bring along plenty of business cards!
DR. GERBER IS THE
PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING
IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN
MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM
OR CALL DR. GERBER
AT (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: August 2005