“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are very close to year’s end. And it’s metrics time! The metrics I’m referring to are of course which holiday gifts you have to buy for who, and how much it’s going to cost.
The other important metrics you may want to consider this time of year as we head into the end of year push, are the metrics in your practice.
I have another phrase I really like and that is, “When people show you who they are, listen the first time.” This applies to businesses, too. A business, once it has been in operation for some time and you have relatively low turnover, the staff is stable, and you have a solid customer base, can start to stand on it's own two feet. Very much like watching a baby grow into a toddler, into a kid, then a teenager, and finally, when they’re about 50 or 60, an adult!
Your business will do certain things well and certain things will be very, very difficult for no explicable reason. And these tendencies will be born out in your metrics. For this, and many other reasons, it is important to track the same metrics in the same way consistently. If you keep moving the finish line, the players will quit, your staff, your customers, and your business will give up on you.
As a leader, it is critical that you choose whether you will be pushed by your problems, constantly focusing on what needs to change in your practice. Or will you choose to be led by your dreams, finding the successes and building on them? I am, of course recommending the latter, but be forewarned it is the more difficult path.
We ask kids, what do you want to be when you grow up? Then, we test them on topics that have no relationship to their dreams whatsoever, and when they fail to produce top marks, we call them stupid, we focus on their flaws, we chastise and scold. Seems a bag of mixed messages to me.
What are your dreams for your practice? And what metrics will you focus on that will be indicative of nearing success in achieving those dreams?
Being led by your dreams is the most difficult path because first and foremost, some people want you to fail. It’s not an attack on you, it’s lack of confidence in themselves. We learn that lesson on the playground. If you rise, they think they must inevitably fall. It’s not true. Don’t listen to them.
Second, it’s hard because you have to have a dream! And dreams for yourself and your business ultimately must come from within. They may be informed by your staff, your colleagues, your industry, but if you have to drive, you have to be able to see the road clearly. And you have to drive! Sorry, not sorry.
Third, you have to know how to gauge whether you, and your business, are straying from the path and self-correct. Which leads us to metrics.
Dream: Serve the community
Metric: Identify the slowest day of the week for New Patient Exams and designate that day for you and your staff to go out to local community centers for free exams.
Dream: Retire early
Metric: Manage top-line revenue, ensuring you are on a path of growth, identifying in your forecasted P&L a tipping point, whereby the business can thrive without you.
Dream: Eliminate managed care
Metric: Use frame sales data to identify your most successful optician, the one with the highest frame revenue per patient, and with their help, identify your highest patient pay frame brands and market those to your private pay patients.
Everything you want can be found in your data. We just have to know where to find it, and what it is we’re looking for.
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster. Her most recent positions include Merchandise Manager for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Northeast Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin working for IDOC, helping other small business owners find success on their own terms. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.