If you want to make your practice more successful, start by emulating other successful practices.
For many optometric practice owners, the biggest challenge is that there is not enough patient demand. These doctors would make some outstanding changes in their practices if they just had the patient volume which would provide the necessary cash flow. My advice is begin to make those changes even if you don't have the patient volume. Make your practice look like it is busy and successful, even before it actually is.
This is not really such an unusual approach; it is followed by successful businesses all the time. It requires an ongoing investment in your company and the acceptance of some business risk.
What would you do?
If you had lots of patient demand, plenty of cash flow, and you were able to design your dream practice what would it look like? Your list may be different but here are a few of the possibilities:
A larger, nicer office
New office design, nice finishes, attractive furniture
A larger staff with excellent training
More delegation to staff
A focus on excellent customer service
An office culture that is respectful, happy and low stress
High fee structure
Multiple exam rooms
Clinical instruments with advanced technology
See patients efficiently; compress them into fewer days
A marketing plan which includes community outreach
An office manager to assist with the management
A fantastic optical department with beautiful decor and amazing frame lines
An in-office lab for fast optical service
Associate optometrists so the owner can work on practice management
Evening and weekend hours which are covered by the associate optometrists
How much at once?
All of the above sounds great, but you may be thinking that a small or average practice can't possibly achieve all that. True enough, at least not all at once. But if you review that list, you'll notice that many of the items do not require a financial investment at all. They may require effort and time.
Many things on the list require a very large investment and for those, you must be careful to not overextend your budget. But many ODs stop investing completely. They try to cut expenses to maximize their net income, which is not a good strategy for the long term. As the leader of your practice, it is up to you to decide on your priority list. What will give you the most bang for the buck? You may change this list over time, but keep the top items in mind and try to find a way to make them happen.
Make your practice look like the way you want it to become. Fake it 'til you make it.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.