Picture it: You have just gotten back to your practice after The Connection, energized from the lectures and workshops, conversations with strategic partners and connecting with your peers. How do you apply your new perspective to your practice?
First – What can you do before The Connection begins?
1. Prepare for the Conference: Education yourself on the event layout, the courses you want to take, the IDOC employees or Vendor Partners you want to connect with. Think through your choices ahead of time, even if it is the day of, and be strategic in your course selection. What are the long-term benefits of each course to you as a business owner and leader?
Second – What can you do at The Connection?
2. Write it down: We are not all the best note takers and we all learn differently. However, over the course of 3 days full of learning opportunities, it is impossible to remember it all. I always take notes, pen to paper, on the computer, even on my phone so that I can recall details of the training I attended. It allows the material to jump from the conference to my day to day life because I can recall the details of WHY I thought this was brilliant idea. I recommend taking notes in your conference notebook, so they are all together. I would record the course title, name of the lecturer/speaker and build your notes on at least one page of a notebook. Include contact information, if applicable, for follow up questions that may come to you later.
3. Bring Different Types of Shoes: This is a lesson I have learned the hard way. Not just different pairs of shoes, different types of shoes are necessary for any multi-day conference. All shoes are not made equal. Sandals can cause frozen toes-ies, flats can cause pained arches, sneakers can wear in the same place on our feet. Although not typically a problem in a normal day’s work, days in a row in the same pair at a conference may cause some irritations. It’s not worth it to be in pain AND it prevents tired or pained feet from distracting you from the material.
4. Get/Offer a Business Card for Follow-up: Asking for contact information is a great way to follow up on a question when you are back in your practice. Offering your business card is a great way to ensure a call back after The Connection. Once you are back to the status quo, having a resource to reach out to or knowing someone else is going to take the lead in follow up will remove some of the uncertainty.
5. Take a Few Minutes to Reset at The Connection: This is something that is usually determined by your personality. Some gain energy from a meeting with others and some are drained. If you fall into the later, find a quiet space inside or outside to check emails, check in on the practice or at home or close your eyes and breathe.
Lastly – How do you bring this new information to life in your Practice?
6. Prepare to return to your Practice: Before you get back into the daily routine, review your notes and prioritize the new ideas into categories of Today, Tomorrow and Someday. Today are the things you would like to tackle now, Tomorrow are the things you would like to tackle this year and Someday are great ideas that require more thought. Once you have this list, break down your Today items into small tasks that you can assign a due date. This plan will allow you stay on track.
7. Roll out your plan: Share your Today, Tomorrow and Someday with your team so they hear about all the wonderful new ideas you learned at The Connection. Plus, getting your team involved in the journey will make them more likely to be engaged with the changes you are considering for your practice.
8. Revisit your plan, often: Your plan is not infallible and may need to be adjusted based on the priorities of the practice. Look at what you have laid out once a month to ensure this is still the right priority and direction for your practice. Pivot wherever necessary.
Hayley Stewart, IDOC Financial Services Manager
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Why do I have to do what you’re asking me to do?
If an employee of yours asked that, your response would likely be harsh.
What do you mean why do you have to do it? You’re an employee here. I sign your paycheck. You have to do it because I told you to do it!
In... Read more
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The advice you receive, the articles you read, the software you... Read more
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How many private pay opportunities do you have each day?
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Why am I the best option for my patients’ eyewear purchase?
Selection? Value? Convenience? Quality? Price? Expertise?
What messages am I sending in my marketing and interactions with them that makes the case that I am their best option?
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Can you complete that sentence?
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“I know what the numbers are, I need to know how to make them better.”
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“I have never had to hire like this before!”
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Doctor, I see floaters in my vision. I think I have a retinal detachment!
I don’t need an exam because I did a screening online.
I put a moist teabag on my eye so it would heal faster.
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I can’t afford to hire is a common refrain in consulting with the independent optometrist. And, it’s true! If you don’t have any expectation that your employees will produce for you, and by extension, pay their own salaries. It’s all in how you frame your fear, and structure pay incentives and... Read more
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Here’s a not-too-controversial observation: everyone would like to earn more income. As practice owners, your income is a function of the revenues your businesses bring in and the expenses you have to pay.
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Good marketing for an independently owned optometric practice isn’t one size fits all, especially now when there are multiple generations with unique mindsets, characteristics, values and eye care needs in the United States.
Let’s say that as an independent Optometrist, you’ve decided to add new eyewear products into the mix at your practice, and now you’d like to market these products to existing and prospective patients.
I’d like to share an incredible customer service experience I had recently.
I was dissatisfied with the protein drink I had been using, since it had a slightly chalky taste and a higher sugar content than I wanted. I spoke with a friend of mine who suggested that I try a new protein... Read more
During his TedxTalk, Scott Hess recalled his first job out of college and a reaction from his boss. He said, “I was told that my performance was strong but that my appearance was a problem. I was upset… I thought I looked awesome. I couldn’t understand why this older boss of mine was making a... Read more
The Inevitable Plateau - “a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress”
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A practice owner with a cash crunch recently pushed back on the advice I was giving – to defer some compensation for a quarterly distribution – with this statement: “I thought I was supposed to pay myself first!”
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Numbers don’t lie. A fact I am reminded of every time I step on the scale. Those ten little digits twixt naught and nine are our friends. And, like any good friend, we may not always like what they say, but they always tell us the truth.
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I was named in a lawsuit once. Fortunately, I was the doctor who found the problem – not the one who misdiagnosed it. Nothing really came of this on my end, but I still recall the moments of terror that gripped my body every time a letter showed up from the legal firm handling the case.... Read more
Starting a solo optometry practice can be a daunting task, especially considering most optometrists do not graduate optometry school with a strong grasp of the business aspects of running a private practice. There are many things you need to do prior to your grand opening, but the work doesn’t... Read more
Office Managers are responsible for setting the expectations for all office employees. The optical staff is a unique situation because the patient experience is easily measured. Good communication and clear goals will go a long way to improve patient satisfaction in this very... Read more
Google and social media have changed the ways we look for information, discover area service providers and research options for health care, and as a result, many Optometrists who own a practice now question which tactics are the most effective to increase brand awareness, number of... Read more
The Science of Selling
Have you ever made what you considered an iron clad case for why a patient should purchase a certain product or service from you, only to have them walk out without ever making the purchase? As clinical professionals, we can be very logical in our approach with... Read more
Your optometry practice is incredibly valuable to you. “Well, Nathan” – you may say – “of course it is!” But have you ever thought of why it’s valuable?
You spend most days pouring your blood sweat and tears into it: hours and hours of patient care, planning,... Read more
Introduction: A simple framework for reenergizing your optical brand
Goal: To provide a structure to improve the optical dispensary and... Read more
The internet isn’t usually a popular topic in conversations I have with owners and staff members of optometric practices. Dealing with reviews and competition from web-based retailers along with the challenge of creating and maintaining a website and good social media marketing may have many... Read more
Optometrists in private practice sometimes fail to offer a clear reason why someone should choose them for their vision care over competitors - on their websites or in other marketing collateral – sometimes when you try to market to everyone, you fail to capture... Read more
When working with small business owners to create marketing plans and strategies, I run across the following scenario far too often: “Hey, I’m not sure how to log in to my Google listing. My office manager used to handle that for me, and she’s not on the team anymore... Read more
“You might as well ask me to describe the essence of music, or the color of starlight.”
Did you make any New Year Resolutions? Well, I did. I do every year, and in keeping with my obsession with goals and metrics that I have professed here repeatedly, I write them down... Read more
For starters, I’m not a licensed psychologist, I just play one as a practice management consultant. It’s been my observation that whenever human beings come together in an environment where they are required to work together and interact, inevitably some tension and conflict will arise.... Read more
Your schedule has gotten busier and you’ve hired an associate OD. While you would like to keep the associate’s schedule filled most of the time, it’s not uncommon for an associate to have some gaps in his or her schedule – at least in the beginning. This often leads to some resentment by the... Read more
Before anyone panics, I am not suggesting that most practices go out and spend $80,000 or $100,000 on a COO tomorrow, or that your manager is due a large raise for 2018. I typically only recommend that type of role for multi-location practices grossing over $2M-$3M per year: practices... Read more
Sometimes it’s not the inventory you choose to carry or the reps you choose to indulge. It’s not the pricing or the shipping or the cadence of your reorders. As we head into the tail end of the holiday season, I can’t help but think of the process of opening presents.
Everyone has... Read more
Texting is an incredibly tempting mode of communication for marketing-minded businesses competing for the attention of consumers, primarily because the open rates on a text from businesses to consumers are incredibly high (98%) compared to other forms of communication (email is around 20%,... Read more
“Ya gotta have a goal, do ya have a goal?!” – Kit De Luca, Pretty Woman
Wise woman. While it’s never too late to begin, I do recommend, even as we focus on maximizing the potential of the Holiday... Read more
“How many frames do I need?” “How many frames should I carry?” “How much stock should I have in inventory?” It doesn’t matter how you phrase it, at least 1/3 of my consultations start the same way. I’m going to make this all very, very easy for... Read more
If you are in a competitive area, you’ve already learned that marketing is a necessity to attract brand new patients to your practice. It’s easy to confuse marketing tactics – sending email, creating Facebook posts and advertising in a community magazine, for instance –... Read more
A practice owner pulled me aside at our most recent conference in Denver to start thinking of an exit plan. I always ask two questions when these discussions come up:
“How long do you see yourself continuing to own your practice?”
“How is your retirement savings coming... Read more
A consumer-centric culture with a focus on customer service is becoming increasingly important for brick & mortar businesses. While I do believe most practice owners strive to deliver on great service, it requires a team effort. I often hear owners tell me they want to be known in their... Read more
Most businesses have polices that employees are required to follow. In general, office policies are a good idea. Policies provide structure for how to conduct business and create consistency around processes and operations. But in a service-based industry, well intended but rigidly executed... Read more
With all the talk of private equity roll-ups and regional alliances, many practice owners are concerned that if they aren’t a large, multi-office, multi-doctor practice, they don’t have a future in independent optometry.
Is that... Read more
One of the interesting mysteries that I get to unravel in many practices is the mystery of tight cash flow. Sometimes it’s obvious – a small practice with low profitability, for instance. But other times it’s not.
First off, what is tight cash flow? Here’s my simple definition:... Read more
Doctor: Would you like to order your contacts today, Mrs. Smith?
Mrs. Smith: That’s OK. I’ll just take the prescription and get them online.
What happened here? You just did a thorough, high-tech eye exam... Read more
For practices looking to grow, there are basically two paths: see more patients or generate more revenue per patient. Ideally, a practice will do both. One thing I consistently hear from ODs is that it’s hard to generate high revenue from contact lens patients. Even when selling annual... Read more
Can you find 20 or 30 minutes a week to hold a staff meeting? You might be surprised at the impact that it has on your optometry practice.
Your staff is your most valuable business asset. Your investment in optometry marketing, technology, office design, etc. will fail to deliver an... Read more
The very phrase can cause irritation, anxiety and bewilderment in the minds of owners who understand that they should somehow be participating in the conversations across the various social media platforms – but which ones are the best for optometry practice... Read more
While there is more than one way to achieve success, there are a few common traits that successful independent optometry practice owners have in common.
They refuse to accept the status quo. While others remain stagnant, ignore trends, and complain about the... Read more