If I Had to Do
Have a Hunger for Knowledge
what may seem like unlikely sources to learn important business strategies.
Donuts and coffee, anyone?
Gary Gerber, O.D.
I PRACTICED OPTOMETRY
for 22 years. Eleven years ago, I started a practice management and consulting company
called The Power Practice. One of our core services is helping new doctors start
their practices, and every time we begin working with a client, I'm reminded about
what I should have done differently
Everything Costs Something
My business-building epiphany happened when I
was discussing the restaurant business. While I examined a friend, a successful
restaurateur, in my office, he asked me about the cost of getting his pupils dilated.
I told him, other than the drops, there wasn't any cost. Then he asked me, "What's
the per-patient cost for those drops?" My reply was, "I don't know; it's probably
insignificant." Then he told me about what he called "pouring costs" in the bars
in his restaurants, and that led to a discussion about how he inventories produce.
I couldn't take notes fast enough! But being wrapped up in running a practice, I
stashed the notes away in my desk and forgot about them.
Several months later while paying some
bills, my notes resurfaced. In fact, I was about to pay a bill for my mydriatic
drops when I saw my notes about pouring costs. I then started analyzing all of the
costs associated with running my practice even the "insignificant" ones.
You Can Learn From Anyone
I'd do differently isn't just about watching costs. I also would have sought the
help of individuals from outside the industry sooner than I did. I studied with
consultants from various and seemingly unrelated industries, including hospitality,
scuba, law, photography and food franchise. All of them taught me more about running
an optometry practice than I ever learned from another optometrist.
For instance, I learned the
importance of "just in time" inventory as well as proper packaging and merchandising
of photos from a photography shop. And no one understands the positive impact of
hands-on customer service like those in the high-end hotel industry. All of this
has applications in optometry practices.
Explore New Areas and Ideas
One key point to recognize is that most optometry
practices run the same way and produce about the same revenue that's how
a bell curve is generated. My nonindustry mentors were all operating on the profitable
fringes of their industries' bell curves. How they got there and stayed there fascinated
To ensure success, you need to venture
out and spend time in a lot of different optometry offices. But don't stop there.
Don't underestimate what you can learn from a Lexus dealer or Dunkin Donuts franchisee.
Dollars to donuts, I'll bet if you're observant, you'll pick up more unique and
profitable practice-building ideas over a cup of coffee with these business people
than you will over lunch with a colleague.
Gerber is the president of Power Practice, a company specializing in making optometrists
more profitable. Learn more at
powerpractice.com or contact Dr. Gerber at
or (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: September 2006