During Shutdown, Give Your Practice Permission to “Fail”
May 27, 2020
By Nathan Hayes, IDOC Consultant
“What do I do about the goals I’d set for 2020? I hate not meeting my goal.”
One consistent feature of practices that grow faster and more profitably is that they set clear goals each year and measure their performance against those goals. And as I talk to those owners, they are… flummoxed by this current derailment of their plans and goals.
So, what to do when a once-in-a-century global pandemic strikes and you’re forced to reduce your patient care to “emergencies only” for eight or even twelve weeks?
I think the answer is obviously “give yourself a pass”. Things outside of our control have stopped practices in their tracks – many of those practices were on pace for a fantastic 2020.
And if you use the SMART formula for your goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound – it’s hard to meet the “Realistic” threshold when you can barely open your doors.
In short: give yourself and your team a pass for now. That doesn’t mean that you pay out any bonuses tied to the goals as if this never happened: bonuses flow out of profits, and it’s fine to ask your team to share in some of your losses. But do try to find and celebrate some accomplishments during this period, though they probably won’t involve hitting your revenue goals!
Change the measures
What can you do? I’m recommending that you at least put a hard pause on your annual goals until business returns to “usual”, knowing that we may not return to anything like a pre-COVID normalcy for another 18 to 24 months, if ever.
Instead, consider setting some new goals around processes and projects:
Write an exam checklist or script and follow it on every comprehensive exam.
Document your new process for safe exams and follow it on every patient encounter.
Re-script your optical hand-off and frame styling process – anecdotally, we’re hearing that patients in areas that have re-opened are spending money on eyewear!
Flex your recall processes: since most practices are seeing dramatically reduced patient loads, no-shows are extra expensive! Keep your schedules full.
Have employees document their roles while working through a reduced schedule; at least you can get a policy manual out of this business interruption!
Take some time to review your financial statements. Should you restructure the presentation, so they are more useful to you!
The point of goals is less to insist on hitting the year after year and more on forcing yourself and your team to improve the care you give your patients and the efficiency with which you deliver care. If you always hit your goals, you probably aren’t setting them high enough.
For now, re-set your expectations and retool your goals. It’s enough to figure out how to practice safely and manage the new challenges of social distancing, home schooling and government shutdowns.
For now, best wishes for your ongoing safety and here’s to resuming success soon.
Nathan Hayes is the Practice Finance Consultant for IDOC. He is a 10-year veteran of the eyecare industry, working at HMI Buying Group and Red Tray, Prima Eye Group from its inception and now IDOC. In his current role, Nathan helps OD practice owners manage their overhead, grow practice revenues and profits, and maximize their personal income, free time, and professional satisfaction. For questions or comments about this article, please contact email@example.com.