probably do some degree of benchmarking and monitoring in your practice already.
For example, you (hopefully) know how much you gross and net. Additionally, you
have a sense of how that compares with other O.D.s. Many of us also have a sense
of how our practices stack up to national averages in overhead categories like rent,
staff wages, cost-of-goods sold and marketing expenses.
A local focus
While you should keep track of these conventional
practice indicators, there are other non-conventional metrics that you should also
track. And, unlike things such as practice net that are usually compared on a national
level, you should analyze these items locally.
If you price-shop your competition,
you already do a form of this type of analysis. But you can measure many other items
in your practice beyond price.
The phone is ringing
How many rings does it take your staff to answer
your phones? Does this vary with time of day and day of the week? A quick, thoughtful
and courteous greeting, even during your busiest times, is one index you should
track. You should also track how well your competitors perform this important task.
Is your phone answered with a quick, curt and harried, "Doctor's office," or does
your staff respond by the second or third ring in a calm, welcoming and inviting
When is your next available appointment? How about
your competitors'? How do you stack up in this important customer service area?
If you're booked too far in advance, you risk losing patients to competitors who
might have an opening sooner than you do.
Untangle the competitive web
If you're like a lot of practices we work with,
you may be chronically understaffed. If this is the case, you may have a longer
appointment waiting time and your staff may not answer the phone promptly and courteously.
Additionally, you may participate in more insurance plans than your competitors
and have a cash-patient fee schedule that is lower than it should be. Try to find
out how many employees your competitors have, how many hours their offices are open,
which insurance plans they accept. Cross reference this data and you may uncover
practice growth opportunities.
For example, you may find most practices
that accept insurance plan X do not have evening hours. You may also find that their
fees are on the lower end of the spectrum. An opportunity for your practice, if
you don't accept this plan, would be to alert phone callers that do have this plan
that you offer convenient night time hours.
Another example: A large percentage
of practices in your drawing area, with a large staff, do not offer on-line appointment
scheduling. Therefore, when you mystery-call these practices, you are put on hold
for inordinate amounts of time. Marketing an on-line scheduling system with
the benefit of the patient never being put on hold may help position your
practice as one that is more patient friendly than your competitors'.
You certainly should know how many
hours you worked last week, how many patients you saw and the balance in your checking
account. But the less obvious practice markers mentioned here are no less important,
especially to those who help build your checking account balance happy patients.
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.