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!”
And “pay yourself first” – which means putting money away into long term savings before spending it on your immediate needs – is really good advice. But it also can get owners into trouble if they forget all the obligations a practice owner must honor before paying themselves.
Before anyone worries that I don’t want you to make any money, let me acknowledge this important fact about you as a practice owner:
You own your practice for two reasons: your desire to have control – over how you care for your patients and who you work with – and the income premium you can receive by delivering better care and service to your patients than your competition.
And my job is to help optometric practice owners earn more income. But it’s also to take the stress out of managing practice finances. Stressful things like:
All of these will either cause or be caused by tight cash flow. My best definition of tight cash flow is this:
Tight cash flow happens when there isn’t enough cash in the business to pay the owner what he or she wants AND pay all the bills.
In most cases, owners need to remember this about the net income on their P&Ls:
First, the government gets paid.
Second, creditors get paid.
Then, and only then, can the owner pay himself or herself.
Let’s consider how those factors affect when and how you pay yourselves.
We all know the saying ‘the only sure things in life are death and taxes’. You are sure to owe taxes, so you need to plan for them. Work with your CPA to plan for your quarterly estimated taxes. Have a separate account for taxes and contribute 25%-35% of your total income, less what you withheld on your regular paycheck.
Owners can choose to make capital equipment purchases, run more or fewer personal expenses through the practice, or take on more aggressive tax-preferred savings vehicles. But if you’re making money, you’re going to owe taxes.
When you buy equipment remember, you only save the taxes – about a third of what you spend. If you want to spend more to save on taxes, IDOC has a special dues program just for you!
Finally, pay all of your income and payroll taxes. Having seen a few cases where practice owners have fallen behind with the IRS, let me assure you that you don’t want to be in that situation.
Secondly, you must repay your creditors – people who have lent you money. Debt is not a bad thing. With interest rates as low as they have been for almost a decade, using a bank’s money to fund your growth is be a great way to accelerate your growth.
But growth is key when taking on debt. Avoid excess debt by making sure you have a clear path to growing your revenues and profits before taking out a loan. Unlike taxes, you can control your debt load.
If you’re buying equipment, be sure that your patient volume and the fees the equipment generates will cover the note or lease from day one. New equipment doesn’t increase the value of your practice UNLESS it increases the revenues and profits.
And be careful with revolving loans (credit cards or lines of credit), don’t come with a baked-in plan to pay them off. Credit card debt really ought to be paid off every month. Lines of credit too, but occasionally be stretched to three months.
If you have credit card debt or a line of credit you can’t retire within two or three months, consider restructuring that debt as a fixed installment loan.
Finally, once you’ve accounted for taxes and debt service, you can pay yourself. And you should pay yourself as much as you can. But there’s still a bit of a timing issue.
Let’s say you’re the solo OD-owner of a $900,000 practice which should net $300,000 (33% of Gross Revenues), which is your pre-tax income. Since $300,000 ÷ 12 months = $25,000 per month, should that be your monthly income (accounting for taxes and debt service, of course)?
No, because your practice results vary month-to-month. You will be fine some months, but others you will be taking out more income than the practice will have profits and cash flow to pay you. So, set your regular draw or salary comfortably below your total expected income.
Set a cash reserve target for the practice: the max you should need is one month’s expected expenses (everything except the owner(s)’ pay). Monthly or quarterly, take out any cash above your targeted reserve amount. If you’re below the target, wait a month or two for the cash to build back up.
So you can’t just take money out of your practice willy-nilly, but here’s the most important thing. Once you’ve met all your obligations to the government, your creditors, and to prudent cash management in your practice, take every red cent out of the practice that you can. Pay yourself first – build up your personal wealth and savings – and then enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Your practice is worth far more for the income it provides you than what you can sell it for. Extra cash left in the practice doesn’t do anything for the value of the practice and is likely to get spent on stuff you don’t need. Reduce stress by taking care of your other commitments first, then maximize your income. That’s best for you today, and it has the effect of increasing the value of your practice.
As research for launching a new service called IDOC Specialty Services, I interviewed several industry experts of various specialties. At the end of each call, I asked everyone the same question: “What prevents more ODs from succeeding with a specialty?”
Their answers were insightful.... Read more
The pandemic has caused many changes in private practice, affecting everything from the way we see our patients to what we expect from our employees. Although some of these changes serve us well, others may feel like a barrier. While attendance issues are not new... Read more
Do you ever wonder if the same amount of effort goes into selling eyeglass frames vs. selling lenses and treatment options? I certainly do. Speaking from experience as an optician, I remember always being so excited when new lens technology was released. I couldn’t wait to fit our... Read more
Alright, I will come clean on something very few people knew about outside my family. I’m OK with sharing this with the world now as it helps prove a point about the importance of being present in local searches.
Ever since COVID started, my wonderful wife had started... Read more
Expanding your staff is an exciting step in independent practice growth. If you’ve recently added a new OD to your practice, get the word out to your audience through social media!
Promoting a new associate OD through your social media channels is an effective strategy in... Read more
In case you haven’t noticed, the Consumer Price Index was up 7.5% in January, as compared to 2021. In short, this means that a basket of goods like food, energy, and other consumer goods cost 7.5% more in 2022 than the year before.
Practice owners feel the squeeze in multiple... Read more
Are you experiencing burnout in your professional career? It’s okay, you can admit it. You’re not alone. In fact, studies have found that approximately 50 percent of physicians are suffering from burnout.
Twelve billion dollars. That’s a conservative estimate of the cost incurred to... Read more
The last few months have been filled with rising wages, steep job competition, and continued uncertainty. Practice owners are being approached by staff about pay increases and are receiving higher wage requirements from job candidates. Many businesses are advertising their starting pay,... Read more
I often hear from ODs and opticians that their patients are taking their prescriptions and purchasing eyewear at Costco, Warby Parker, or other online retailers. Rarely do I hear the reason why. Finally, the opportunity was in front of me so I could ask questions to a consumer regarding the... Read more
It’s a new year, which means that practice owners—and your IDOC consultants, for that matter—are reflecting on last year’s achievements and setting revenue goals for 2022.
As you set your 2022 revenue goals, don’t forget to celebrate the wins from last... Read more
I was on the couch with my wife during our daily “be present and reset” routine which includes reminiscing about our day, watching our favorite shows, and just being present with one another. Out of nowhere, she asked me a question that I wasn’t expecting- “Oh wait, what happened with the paid... Read more
Perhaps you're a recent graduate from Optometry School, or maybe you have spent time working in a corporate optometry practice, or even as an associate OD at an independent practice, and you have decided to go out on your own and open your own optometry... Read more
How often do you think about your experiences as a consumer? What comes to mind when you reflect on positive interactions? How about negative? I don’t know about you, but for me the negative experiences are much more vivid. Many of those interactions occurred with someone who was well... Read more
When I was a retail manager, this would happen to me often. An employee would tell me they didn’t complete an important assigned task, or they would call out for their shift. And I could see it from both sides. They had a lot of conflicting responsibilities that day and yet, this task would... Read more
School has ended and most of the world has opened back up. Many people I know have multiple weekend getaways, road trips and vacations scheduled because they are making up for lost time. You know what that means? We are surrounded by opportunities to sell sun!!!! The only problem is not... Read more
If you are recruiting staff for your practice, you are probably experiencing hiring woes. Some are new - it is a tight job market. Not everyone is able to go back to work depending on their individual circumstances and some employers need more employees than before to meet their current... Read more
With the spike in patient demand following the COVID-19 Pandemic, many owners are actively recruiting associate ODs to help carry their increased demand. And any owner looking to hire an associate right now knows that the market is tight.
My feeling is we have an outright shortage of... Read more
Managing your staff can be challenging! Am I right? Or am I right? Now, managing your staff and feeling confident with whether you are being compliant poses a different level of challenges. I will share a story to illustrate this challenge.
I had a consult with an Office Manager who... Read more
Signed into law on March 11th, 2021, The American Rescue Plan Act offers an extension to Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This provision added additional reasons the leave can be used as well as increasing the cap on eligible compensation for a tax credit.
FFCRA... Read more
What should a practice do when they have lingering product? Well, 1st we have to identify what lingering product is. In my world, lingering product includes all frames that have been sitting on the shelf for a minimum of 6 months. I like to evaluate product every quarter to identify... Read more
Maybe you’ve experienced some unpleasant events in your practice that you didn’t have a policy to cover, or you team is large enough that you vacation policy isn’t working anymore. Maybe you have never liked you scheduling and time management policy but do not know how to go about changing it.... Read more
Every year people tend to make goals for the upcoming new year. Somehow a new year inspires others to reinvent themselves in some way and like most initiatives, they lose their luster after a few weeks. I was supposed have rock hard abs like 3 years in a row. If ever... Read more
A friend of mine was out in the job market and applied for a job as a Dental Assistant. She called me for some advice around interviewing, and during our conversation, she mentioned a shocking reality. She said, "Geronda, there were a few companies that I was interested in, but the job... Read more
By now, most of us are familiar with online reviews and understand their reach and influence, particularly on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. As a marketing consultant at IDOC, I work with optometry practice owners and managers to increase the number of new patients at the practice, retain... Read more
During a phone call with my favorite sister (now, let's not share this with anyone else), she shared the following sentiment with me, "I was just as excited for my kids to go back to school this year, until I realized that I have one kid staying home and doing virtual learning and the... Read more
Let’s say one day after an exam and a visit in your optical, a patient reviews their experience on your Google business listing and Yelp.
The review includes many details which makes it clear to anyone reading that they visited the practice, had an exam, and worked with an optician.... Read more
Take a step back and think about your business. Are you in tune with the performance of your optical? Are you achieving your desired results? If not from you, where are your patient’s purchasing their eyewear? Why? How do your offerings compare to your competition? Investigate, by... Read more
“I’m shockingly flush with cash. My checking account balance is fantastic.”
This isn’t what I expected to hear on the tail end of the most prolonged economic catastrophe of our lifetime. But many practices, after leaning out all their expenses during the... Read more
“I’m thinking of selling my practice.”
“Should I sell my practice now while prices are at all-time highs? How long does the private equity phenomenon last?”
Practice owners often focus on market trends in the pricing of practices when deciding when and whether to sell. Let me... Read more
Careful frame and lens purchasing habits are needed in an unpredictable time.
Many optometric practices are experiencing a surge in eyewear purchases due to pent-up demand and the ability to... Read more
Capture rate is a key performance indicator; possibly the most significant component in measuring and increasing revenue per patient. Capture rate can be influenced by several factors. The good news is that you can have an impact on all of them.
Multiple Pairs:... Read more
If your optometry practice is currently closed due to COVID-19, there are certain updates you should make on the listing to communicate to your community the temporary change in your practice operations. Google has prioritized the “
You may have closed or partially closed your practice temporarily. There is tremendous uncertainty around when we can resume anything that resembles a normal business or personal life. You may be in the office alone or with only one or two staff members. There are always ways to keep a... Read more
If you’ve temporarily closed or truncated the hours of operation at your optometry practice after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people delay routine eye care exams, please update your community by communicating the short-term changes through these... Read more
Given the current state of the world due to the onset of COVID-19 everything around us has changed and it’s changed quickly. Three weeks ago, I was on vacation on the other side of the country mindful of what was going on, but not exactly concerned. Two weeks ago, I developed a cold and... Read more
Continuing Education is so important to your practice – your team can learn something new, you can expand the experience in your practice and it’s a great way to keep your team engaged. However, how do you determine payment for your employees during this time?
Let’s first look at the... Read more
Does your staff truly believe in the value you provide?
It is demonstrably true that if you have a passion for a product, your enthusiasm is actually very difficult to contain. Getting behind a product is almost inevitable if you are a satisfied customer yourself.
Are you... Read more
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... Read more
It all started when I was about 8, I was going to be a lawyer. This was my dream even though I was surrounded by what others may consider nothing. To me, it was motivation. I wanted more than to become a product of my environment. I wanted more than the promise of becoming another statistic. I... Read more
The longer I study what makes some doctors more influential with patients than others, the more I appreciate the ability of some to build strong connections with the patients they serve.
In a fast-paced healthcare environment where some doctors and their staff are seeing patients at... Read more
On a chilly January Sunday in Atlanta (where I live), my sister texted me this picture of a line going out the door of what looked like an old warehouse. She and many others were eagerly awaiting to enter the building for an anniversary sale to be held from 11am – 4pm, one day only.... Read more
It’s a new year, which means new hopes, new opportunities, and new goals and plans to achieve your goals. Since the good goals lead to good planning, let’s think about why we set goals and how we achieve them.
Keep the Main Thing the Main... Read more
A new year is an ideal time to establish a rational, cost-effective Buying Plan for the optical dispensary.
First, establish who is responsible to execute your buying plan. There needs to be one primary and one secondary person, to pick up at times of absence and for accountability.... Read more
As their eye doctor, your patients rely on you to keep them informed about products that improve their vision, preserve the health of their eyes, and may save them time and money. While some of this information can be provided by the optician, this can leave the patient with the impression... Read more
I have a plant named Albert that I love dearly. I do not consider myself a “plant person,” but I inherited him from a co-worker 3 years ago because he was on the brink of death and they didn’t have the desire to care for him. I did a bunch of research to uncover Albert’s species... Read more
In many practices, the percentage of patients who return every twelve months for an eye exam can be disappointing. Even with practices that pre-appoint, many offices struggle with getting those patents to return for their prescheduled exam. To further exasperate the problem, many of these... Read more
Everyone has a method to their madness. We all do things a specific way whether it is force of habit or we are striving to achieve a particular outcome. We all have a process in everything we do. Have you ever sat back and considered the importance of defined processes in your practice?... Read more
Even though I love Human Resources, I don’t love the rules and regulations that govern the employer/employee relationship. I can appreciate them and see their importance, yet it doesn’t make for great cocktail party conversations. Unfortunately, if you like employment law or not,... Read more
I recently took a course on public speaking and we discussed the filters that influence the perception of the audience. Selective perception refers to inward focus. The value of the message is based on personal benefit. Objective perception refers to outward focus. The value of the message is... Read more
Sunday is our day! Every Sunday we follow the same plan. We have been taking the same steps for so long that MY husband can do it on his own. I’m so proud!! We wake up bright and early, go downstairs into the kitchen and take a full inventory of the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and... Read more
Instagram can have a real impact on growing awareness for your independently owned optometry practice in your community.
It’s primarily a visual medium where you can tell your independent brand story through images and videos, and it’s a very popular daily... Read more
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
As my son was growing up, he would, as all teens will, ask to borrow money or have me buy something for him. At some point, I started saying that “Any money I loan you (which usually meant giving him), will be accompanied with advice.” Usually the advice was related to... Read more
Social media, online reviews and a well-performing website are all great tools in a good marketing plan for an optometrist in private practice, but the most successful practices understand that delivering remarkable service to their patients is the cornerstone of their marketing... Read more
If you are or have been responsible for managing people, you have been there. An employee whom you like and has done great work in the past is struggling in their role. Maybe they are more combative than usual with their peers or aren’t getting their work done effectively. Perhaps you have... Read more
With Private Equity groups scooping up practices left and right (it seems that way at least), it stands to reason that most owners have at least thought about whether they would say yes to the right offer. I tell most owners that they should own their practices for as long as... Read more
Back to school season is a busy time for families, but we know an eye exam for their children should be a priority on the list of things to do. As a marketing consultant for optometrists in private practice, the topic of back to school marketing and promotions comes up in conversations with... Read more
Whether I am advising a client or writing this blog, my primary objective is to give business owners actionable items that, if taken will positively impact them personally or improve their business in some tangible way.
The advice you receive, the articles you read, the software you... Read more
I have to admit something – I have been falling into Busy-ness Syndrome, where I feel like I am too busy with my responsibilities to do anything I perceive to be “extra”. That could be anything from an uncomfortable conversation to tending to obligations. Busy-ness Syndrome is not... Read more
This article assumes you’ve done your part in establishing value for the products and services you offer. If you fail to do this, then price inevitably becomes a factor as people will wonder if they can get what they need less expensively from another source. But let’s assume you’ve made a... Read more
How many private pay opportunities do you have each day?
With so many of your patients now covered by vision care plans, you would probably say, not many. I could ask you to look at the percentage of patients you see in each plan, I could ask you what percentage of patients are... Read more
A good marketing plan for your optometry practice should include opportunities to meet people in your community, face to face. Time spent engaging in the right kind of community involvement for the practice is a valuable investment in building your brand.
While promoting your... Read more
The last time unemployment was lower than it is now was 50 years ago, when there was only .1% less! Job growth continues month over month, mostly in the healthcare and service industry, and large companies are pulling out all the stops to hire. Let’s be honest, if you are hiring... Read more
If you have not already done so, embrace package pricing. It brings simplicity and potential for additional revenues.
Consumers today demand that they know prices up front. This transparency is the bait that the big-box, discount and online retailers use to lure in customers.... Read more
Facebook maintains its top spot amongst social media channels in 2019, particularly among people ages mid-thirties to early sixties in the United States. Facebook is designed to encourage people to connect with the people they know in their “real” lives – friends, classmates, neighbors, family... Read more
All practices will hit a point where there just isn’t enough time and headspace for a single owner to see all the patients, manage the team, and run the business. In order to grow, the owner has to delegate something. The first thing most owners will do is hire or promote a manager... Read more
Several years ago, I met with a financial advisor. I had been out of school a few years, and a friend suggested I speak with his father over lunch about debt management and financial planning. I thought I already had this under control, but why turn down a free lunch?
After some... Read more
Cost of Goods is the highest expense category for many – if not most – independent practices. And most owners feel like they’re spending too much or just don’t know – how does my Cost of Goods (COGS) compare to other practices?
I’ve heard practice management lecturers say that... Read more
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?
There are three critical... Read more
Can you complete that sentence?
In one of my presentations titled “The Science of Selling: The Psychology Behind Why People Buy” I ask the audience this very question. This usually gets a mixed reaction of affirmative heads nods and looks of uncertainty.
My... Read more
From time to time, I’ll have a call that goes something like this: “Help! My revenues are down, and I don’t know why!”
If this happens to you, it’s useful to remember that your collected gross revenue is a function of three variables, which we could express in a formula that... Read more
Smaller practices that have fewer employees have always cross-trained out of necessity. These practices may have only one person to perform the duties of receptionist, technician, biller and optician. As practices grow, they tend to look for people to “take over certain functions” and begin to... Read more
Sometimes, creating a policy for your practice can present more challenges than you expect. Meal Periods tends to be one of them. There are benefits and drawbacks to both style of meal period – Paid and Unpaid.
Unpaid Meal... Read more
Before you read this article, take three seconds and Google the name of your practice.
If you’re on a desktop computer, don’t click on your website in the search results; instead, look at the image and name of your practice on the right-hand side of the screen. That’s your free... Read more
As business people, we are constantly inundated with advertising and offers for programs, software, products and advice that promise to improve our bottom line. Some will catch our attention; some we simply click past. Some we purchase and own; some we have access to through subscriptions we... Read more
As a marketing consultant for optometrists in private practice at IDOC, I am often asked about the different social media channels and whether it makes sense to participate in all of them. Much like social gatherings in the physical world, each social media platform has distinct... Read more
In HR, documentation makes the world go ‘round. I talk about it in every consultation I have with our members. However, it isn’t because I like to hoard documents on my computer or pieces of paper on my desk (Although, my desk and computer might tell a different story). It... Read more
Establish guardrails. Employees should be permitted to make some of their own decisions, but there needs to be clarity on the boundaries. Micromanagement restricts employees. Boundaries empower them. A good example would be allowing your employees to use up to $200 to resolve... Read more
As an Optical Management Consultant, I often hear:
“I know what the numbers are, I need to know how to make them better.”
It is frustrating to have a vision for your practice and feel that you are alone on the journey to attain that vision. Spend some time thinking about what... Read more
My least favorite phrase to hear was “Michelle called out today”. It almost sucked the air out of the room. I had already planned out the whole day, for myself and the team. Before hearing that, I probably had a project in place, hopeful to progress in some way. Adjusting and... Read more
I recently recorded a podcast titled “5 Things Successful Practice Owners Do Differently.” I won’t go into all five here, but for this article I will focus on one of the key differentiators – Execution.
Most practice owners have given thought to business strategies and how these... Read more
It’s that time of year – practices are evaluating what went right – and wrong – in 2018 and setting goals for 2019. And with goals comes the age-old question: what should you do about a bonus plan next year?
First the theory of bonuses: people respond to incentives, and if you... Read more
Partnerships can be powerful drivers of growth, combining the energy, expertise and capital of multiple doctor owners to create a bigger practice than the sum of its owners individual abilities and contributions.
For all the benefits, partnerships come with their own sets of... Read more
“I have never had to hire like this before!”
“I’m embarrassed to say, my longest-term employee has only been with me 9 months.”
“I never used to have this... Read more
They closed the gym in my office building for renovations and it won’t reopen until January. That has no relevance here except for me to tell you that it has me really annoyed. I had a plan! I was going to be proactive! I was going to start my New Years... Read more
Change is scary, risky and very necessary. Changing anything from small policies to major remodels can be very tense. But it is worth some degree of discomfort to give a jolt of energy to a business that may need just that. Take some time to... Read more
How do you create efficiencies in a high-cost, low-margin retail environment? That was the question I was going to answer.
First, I think you have to remind yourself why you are in a high-cost, low-margin retail environment. The answer, because Susan blabbered at me until I brought... Read more
We have all been there. You spent what felt like 1,000 hours recruiting – posting the job online, reviewing resumes, speaking to candidates, getting feedback from interviewers, making a job offer. Your new employee comes in and within 48 hours they are completely different than you... Read more
An independently owned optometry practice in the United States is a small business, and most marketing experts agree that your marketing budget as a small business should be anywhere from 1% to as much as 10% of your gross revenue, depending on where the practice is located and how much local... Read more
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.
I know I can’t have glaucoma because I smoke pot every... Read more
Many practice owners will struggle for to grow their revenues and profits – and therefore their incomes – from a cold start. Others may buy a healthy, existing practice or see fast growth. Whatever the case, achieving even a modicum of success can bring its own set of questions and... Read more
If you’ve ever sweated making payroll or wondered how you could possibly scrounge up enough cash to pay your distributor bill on time or just found it hard to pay yourself, you know the... Read more
The new reality is that many of our patients are shopping online for everything before they make a purchase. A second reality that you may not be aware of is that for some people online ordering is not as easy as the advocates for this model would have you... Read more
A handbook could be the most important document you create for your business. Here are the top 3 reasons why:
A handbook is a collection of the policies of your practice. You use this... Read more
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
Warby Parker, big box, shopping malls, oh my! While some private practice ODs respond to local commercial competitors with (typically irrational) fears of a mass exodus of patients leaving their practice for the cheap prices and convenience of a low-cost retailer, other respond with a... Read more
If you own or manage an optometric practice, you’ve probably observed that online reviews have become ubiquitous in American consumer marketing. An independent optometric practice is now likely to manage its reputation across several online profiles, including the Google listing for the... Read more
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.
So, if you want to increase your income, should you be going over your... Read more
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”
I spoke with an OD yesterday who was struggling to make a shift in the way they dispense contact lenses in their practice. The... Read more
I once suggested to a doctor struggling with employee motivation that he give his staff more positive feedback about the things they were doing well. Not his exact words, but his response was along the lines of, “I’m paying them to do a job, why should I have to stroke their... Read more
Picking up a new pair of glasses is exciting for the patient, the anticipation of new, clear lenses and updated beautiful frames. Celebrate with them, make a special event out of it. Prepare... Read more
When I started working as a department manager in a large retail company, I joined a high traffic location in a mall and it was the highest volume store in the district. Despite that, I walked into a manager’s nightmare. The departments I was responsible for were experiencing double digit... Read more
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.
I haven’t always been... Read more
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
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 anyone.
What... 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 and check in... 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
“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 you. Consider it my holiday gift! To determine... 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... 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