Consider taking a day to focus on practice management

In his book, “The One Thing You Need to Know,” Marcus Buckingham extols the virtues of leaders who take the time out of their working lives to think. These leaders all realize this is, “incredibly valuable time” that allows them “in the end, to conclude.”

“It is the ability to draw conclusions that allows them to project with such clarity,” Mr. Buckingham writes. Most of us in practice would claim to be thinking all day long, as we run from patient to patient. But that’s not the kind of thinking Mr. Buckingham is talking about here. He’s talking about taking time to stop and think about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it.

One of optometry’s most respected practice management experts is Neil Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O. For many years he has recommended practice owners take a day off per week from seeing patients to work on their practices. For a long time, I thought I could grow my practice while seeing patients, but I was wrong. It wasn’t until I took this time to develop the business that our practice began to grow. You need uninterrupted time to think about and to build your practice.

Here’s some of the things I think about on my “day off.”


Meet with your office manager to discuss your marketing programs weekly. In addition to an emphasis on internal marketing at our office, we’re planning a variety of monthly “pop-up events,” such as a Kendra Scott Jewelry Show, with local businesses at our new building.



Spend time with optical staff refining frame offerings. I meet weekly with my frame buyer to look for new styles to expand our inventory. This is also a good time to prepare for upcoming shows, such as Vision Expo, by perusing different eyewear websites.


When new technology is added, this is a time to show technicians how you will incorporate it into your patient care. This time can also be used to review your pretest instruments to improve efficiency and the quality of measurements. We spend time teaching our technicians what to say to the patient to explain tests and how to help us as scribes in the exam room.


Your reception team is the face of your practice. I spend time with them weekly, so they understand the importance of how they welcome our patients. This is also a good time to review contact lens rebates and insurance reimbursements, so that when the patient comes out after the exam with trial lenses, the members of your staff can accurately explain the costs.


Meet with your billing and coding staff to get a measure of your accounts receivable and coding practices. We’re reviewing our approach to how we present premium IOLs to our cataract patients. To do that, we need to develop new documents that explain this to the patient. Many cataract patients would benefit from toric IOLs, and reviewing that can benefit your practice too with higher co-management fees.


Take a day off from seeing patients to think and to build your practice. You’ll be more efficient during the time you are seeing patients, and the whole office will run smoother when the leader leads. Think about it. OM