Article

BUSINESS: Optical

Your Optical COACH

Invest time in the people who make up the practice

The culture and attitudes of eye care practices reflect the enthusiasm and energy of those who work within them. A doctor who is forward-thinking and embracing of new technology will have a practice reflective of that. Staff members who feel as though they are hitting their stride can be reflective of a business in growth. And, by the same token, a staff and doctors who demonstrate a lack of interest in new ways of doing things are often indicative of a practice in decline. That is to say, without a careful eye on the humans who make up a practice, practice growth can stagnate, and relevance to today’s changing consumer can falter.

Daniel Levitin is a neuroscientist who has written a book called Successful Aging, where he talks about what happens in our brains as we age and how we can maximize our “health span,” the term he prefers to lifespan. He advocates using an acronym called COACH.

BE CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR WORLD

When O.D.s adapt an attitude of curiosity in their practice, they start asking more questions rather than assuming they have all the answers. Questions like:

  • “What would happen if we started using new lens technology with contoured prisms to address our chronic headache sufferers?”
  • “Why don’t we just include AR coatings in our base lens price, so more patients can benefit?”
  • “What would happen if we brought in a unique new frame line that no one else carries?”

This level of curiosity will get optometrists into new spaces and increase the fun of practicing.

BE OPEN TO NEW EXPERIENCES

There are endless ways to enhance the patient experience. An idea might include events like Ziegler Leffingwell’s Beauty Night, where patients were invited to partake in eye makeovers from make-up artists at Nordstrom; the display of a high-end frame line; free prescriptions for Latisse; and Botox, administered by a plastic surgeon. These types of fun and new experiences get people talking — and the staff had a blast.

MAINTAIN ASSOCIATIONS AND MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS

O.D.s should create deep ties with the people who help their practice grow, as this is a satisfying way to practice. The frame rep who helps out with a patient’s broken frame or the inside lens rep who troubleshoots orders are extensions of the office and part of the team. Optometrists should thank them for all they do.

BE CONSCIENTIOUS ABOUT BUSINESS HEALTH

O.D.s should follow productivity metrics to assure their practice is financially healthy. At a minimum, they should track cost of goods sold, revenue per patient, inventory turn and capture rate. When I owned my practice, I thought we had a good pulse on our optical profitability, but since partnering with a private equity entity, I have seen another level of business metrics.

HAVE HEALTHY LIFESTYLE PRACTICES

Good health for individuals in the office means creating an environment where people feel valued and empowered. Imagine that every patient and staff person wear this sign: “Make me feel important.” O.D.s should remember those words every day and then say something to build those individuals up. “The best minute you spend is the one you invest in people,” write Drs. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in The One Minute Manager. OM