Article

A Year-End Checklist

A look at the business items optometrists should complete to finish the year and set the course for 2020

Katy Flaty/stock.adobe.com

It’s the end of the year, which means optometrists are now grappling with the deluge of patients who want to use their insurance benefits before they lose them. With the daily schedule jam-packed, as a result, it’s challenging to identify and evaluate the business items that must be accomplished before 2020 comes rushing in. To facilitate this, here I provide a year-end checklist.

FINANCIAL DATA

To start, all financial transactions for the year should be entered into the accounting and practice software, so that the reports and data the accountant needs are up to date.

Second, employee and contractor contact information should be updated for W2s and W4s, so each employee receives their W2/W4s before the end of January, the tax report deadline.

Third, the following financial reports should be run: profit/loss, balance sheet, transaction data and payroll.

In my practice, we run 1099 vendor reports to see whether 1099s need to be issued. Additionally, we run and review year-to-date general ledger reports to see whether there are any misclassifications that were expensed that should be equipment purchases or vice versa. Finally, we run the year-end/year-to-date payroll reports (941 and state unemployment) and reconcile with W2s.

Now, all of the above should be referred to, when preparing for taxes. Sales taxes should be paid on items, including nonprescription sunglasses, accessories and anything else deemed not medically necessary. Franchise and excise taxes, federal taxes and licensure fees should be paid as well. Also, a method of depreciation for any new equipment bought during the year needs to be determined. (See “Take Advantage of Tax Deductions,” p.18.)

BUDGET

Most optometrist practice owners set budgets based on cash flow and the information garnered from the financial data. That said, the following often overlooked items should also be included: current fee schedules (look over insurance reimbursements, cms.gov, prices for contact lenses online, etc.); new equipment and hardware/software needs; and employee staff size and pay rates (see payscale.com ). These additional items can have tremendous effects on cash flow and payroll taxes.

For example, if an O.D. has a high-tech retinal imaging device that “dies,” all of a sudden, that doctor is without the revenue for the clinic days she doesn’t have the machine. Also, that doctor will be purchasing a replacement device for thousands of dollars. If she didn’t budget for this, her cash flow takes a huge dip.

TECHNOLOGY

Each year, along with downloading backup data files, hardware and software should be evaluated for wear and tear, upgrades and any required replacement parts (mouses, keyboards, etc.). Having to replace five lanes of computers at one time or, worse, a server can be costly.

In my practice, one person is assigned to “watch over” our computers, replace accessories that aren’t functioning properly and make sure the server is maintained and running properly. Additionally, this individual is tasked with evaluating the years that each piece was purchased to keep up with the longevity of equipment. (See “Ready Your Diagnostic Equipment,” p.16.)

The practice website should also be evaluated: Does it meet patients’ needs? Is it informative and helpful? Is it user friendly? These items can be determined by having a mystery shopper or family friend scrutinize the website. Additionally, practice staff can assess other practice websites for ideas. Practice websites can garner new patients, so they should not be forgotten once they are set up.

INVENTORY

Hopefully, all inventory is nicely organized in the practice software, where a quick report can be run. If not, I recommend an inventory office party!

Specifically, the practice is closed a couple hours early on a typically slow day, staff is treated to lunch, and the tallying begins on frames, contact lenses and accessory sale items. I have found that the inventory office party makes a tedious process more enjoyable.

One year, my practice ordered lunch from one of the staff’s favorite restaurants and had a prize raffle at the end of the day.

BUSINESS APPROACH

A list should be made of what went wrong and right in the practice this year to rectify problems and stay the course, respectively, for 2020. So that this determination can be made, wrongs and rights should be discussed with staff at the end-of-the year staff meeting or even during the inventory party (mentioned above). Staff insight is priceless, as they are the ones who helm the practice’s daily goings on.

After determining the rights, the practice’s and staff’s accomplishments should be announced to keep everyone motivated for the coming year. From there, new goals, based on the wrongs, should be made for staff for the coming year.

Recently, we found that an online contact lens ordering system we were using had minimal patient participation. As a result, the practice dropped the system and set a goal of increasing contact lens sales via staff working on their presentation of lenses to patients. The end result was that the practice increased its yearly sales.

ONE LAST PIECE OF ADVICE

Between 30 minutes to an hour— come in early — should be set aside twice a week to complete the end-of-the-year check list. Checklists can be tough, but when finished, they can be gratifying. Remember: Working with staff makes completing these tasks much easier. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year! OM