o.d. to o.d.
You Find Success in the
New Year ... Here's How
practices share a common trait that has little to do with age, ethnicity, gender or mode of practice.
WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor
charging head first into a new year, many optometrists will look back at 2006. I
wonder, what, to their wandering eyes, will appear? I've spoken with many optometrists
over the last two months to get a sense of how we are doing both collectively and
as individuals. The responses have been as varied as you might expect.
In late September, I spoke to a colleague whose
office is located in the Southeast. His practice had grown significantly in 2006.
It had done well in 2005, and he expected 2007 to be the best year ever for his
Without my asking, he added that the
reason for the growth in his practice was a function of planning that he and his
staff had originally begun in 2004. It seems that the entire office is focused on
how they can improve the performance of the practice.
There are weekly staff meetings where
the previous week's production is reported and compared with the goals that they
had set. Every six months, the doctor and his staff take a day out of the office
so that they can discuss opportunities they have for making additional improvements.
It seems that the primary focus of
the doctor and staff is what they can do to enhance the service available to their
patients, how they can make the delivery of those services more convenient and then
how they will increase their earnings as a result of their efforts. Wait a minute,
I thought, an optometrist that actually plans for increased profitability
I haven't seen one of those in awhile.
In October, I was in the Midwest and after presenting
a four-hour lecture, I was resting my feet when a colleague offered to buy me a
cool one. I put my "Will Consult For Beer" sign back in my briefcase and the conversation
This doctor has been in a very successful
practice for nine years but now wanted to start his own practice. It seems the practice
had no place for a partner and because of his contract, there was no opportunity
to increase his earnings without moving on.
The number one question he had was
whether he should he start cold or try to buy an existing practice. Now I started
my own practice, but that was a different market than exists today. My advice was
to first look for an opportunity to purchase an existing practice at a fair price
and capitalize on the existing patient base by providing a broader scope of services
at more appropriate reimbursement levels than most existing practitioners currently
Early in November, I enjoyed
a conversation with two young optometrists who had graduated in 2005. Both of these
doctors were practicing in retail settings but wanted to be in a private practice
setting where they could provide more medically-related care. Their husbands had
jobs that were not likely to require relocation so they decided to buy an existing
practice in the Northwest and job-share.
The success factor
There were many more conversations with colleagues
of different ages, ethnicities and gender. Not all of them were doing well. But
those who enjoyed success had one thing in common with the three scenarios above:
They were planning planning for their future in optometry. Rather than complaining
about what optometry wasn't, they were focused on what optometry could be.
Optometric Management, Issue: January 2007