Provide medical eye care and a fantastic optical
Optometry school prepared me well for delivering stellar medical eye care. What I didn’t realize until entering into the profession is that the business education for running the optical was lacking. My classmates and I supplemented our medical education with industry expert speakers who spoke at our school’s private practice club, but two hours a month isn’t enough to prepare you for running the business side of your practice. Sure, some O.D.s opt for a master’s in business, but this isn’t an option for every graduate, including me. The good news: I have been able to balance running my optical and providing medical eye care successfully. Here’s how.
1 READ, READ AND READ MORE
Some of the best business lessons I learned were from reading books. They don’t have to be specific to optometry. Books on creating a culture of excellence, enhancing the patient/customer experience, how to be a better leader and managing difficult conversations all have yielded advice I’ve used since day one of opening my practice. (See “Suggested Reads.”)
“The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company”
– Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham
“Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”
– Simon Sinek
“The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential”
– John C. Maxwell
“The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea”
– Bob Burg & John David Mann
“The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”
– Michael E. Gerber
2 HIRE FOR PERSONALITY
The single best piece of advice I received regarding picking employees is to hire for personality, and train for skill. It’s incredibly important to enjoy the people you work with closely and even more so to know their innate personalities set them up for success in their positions. This is particularly important in the optical, where patient interaction is often at its longest.
Motivated people can learn just about anything. You can entrust them with responsibilities you can delegate, such as inventory, meeting with vendor representatives, frame board management, etc. This way, you can focus on the patient and what’s happening in the exam room. (A caveat: Regardless of who you hire, or manage, be sure to set up checks and balances for the optical, and review its level of success on an ongoing basis.)
3 PRACTICE BY METRICS
I track critical statistics in my practice. I refer to a common phrase: “If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it” quite often when consulting with optometrists about growing their practices.
If each step of the practice has a minimum benchmark to meet and a goal to reach, inevitably, good people will rise to the occasion. This is specifically applicable to metrics, such as revenue per patient, multiple pairs, percent booked, contact lens annual supply sales, etc. Helping my team understand these metrics and empowering them to improve individual statistics has created successful habits.
Regardless of whether you’ve just accepted a job in a commercial setting, you’re an associate in a private practice or you’re a private practice owner, the three steps outlined above can enable you to balance medical eye care with your optical successfully. OM
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