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Patricia Basile | 8/21/2019

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 buy are all only as good as the effort made in implementing them. Most advice boils down to:

1. Define the problem

Is it an issue of office morale? Revenue? Material costs? 

2. Find a yardstick by which to measure it

You cannot successfully manage a situation, a person or a business without measuring it in some way. It may be easy to measure those items that involve money, but it is just as important, maybe more important to develop ways to measure less tangible items, such as attitude, empathy with patients and co-workers, motivation, etc. There are many tools to use to identify and quantify these attributes in an associate. Everything can be measured, sometimes objectively sometimes only subjectively, but it can be measured. Doctors use scales for pain assessment, therapists use scales for depression or stress levels. You can use scales to measure the atmosphere in your office. You can use performance evaluations at quarterly reviews to address these more elusive traits. If a difficult employee knows that a bad attitude will not be dropped, they will either work to improve or leave. By the same token, an employee that regularly exceeds average expectations, these tools provide you with valuable opportunities to thank and encourage them.

3. Form an action plan

Regularly scheduled meetings, quarterly reviews, monthly one on ones are all possible tools to use in personnel evaluations. Sales metrics and materials costs respond to very specific goals that are consistently presented and regularly reviewed.

4. Communicate the problem, the proposed solution and metric by which success will be measured

Everyone needs to get along, the business needs to grow and every staff member can find ways to conserve resources.

5. Measure results

Once you have established the plan and communicated it to the staff, track and report results consistently. Share customer and employee survey results, all relevant sales data and be specific about what it costs to run the office and keep the business open.

6. Adjust the action plan as needed

Give any change a fighting chance to work by providing adequate time and effort for it to take hold. Then make changes as needed, but stay committed to the goal.

If you follow this sequence with every issue you grapple with, and tackle one difficult item after another, you will be amazed at how quickly you can turn a situation around. This applies equally to an office that works like a well-oiled machine needing to work out only an occasional kink as it does to the practice that seems to struggle constantly with one drama after another.

If you are feeling stuck you may be thinking:

I’ve heard that before: There’s a reason you hear sound advice repeated often. The path you are most reluctant to take, out of laziness or fear, may be the exact thing that you need to do.

I’ve tried that before: Did you really commit to implementing a plan or policy? Did you communicate it to the staff and enlist their help? Did you try to modify the plan or just scrap it?

That won’t work for my practice (or in my area): You will not know until you try. One of the things we do best at IDOC is help you adapt strategies to suit your individual needs. We recognize that an “Industry Standard” or “Widely Accepted Benchmark” may need to be balanced with other priorities. The needs of a young, growing practice differ significantly from the needs of a more established office. What works for a staff of three may not work for a staff of eighteen. But the underlying principals will usually apply. For instance, regularly scheduled staff meetings are critical for any organization. Yes, even if that organization consists of only two or three people! But the length of the meetings and the intervals at which they occur may vary significantly. The important point is to have time set aside for communications, planning and problem solving with no other distractions.

Pat Basile

Optical Management Consultant


Patricia Basile
Optical Management Consultant
Pat Basile has extensive experience in sales, customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has had great success in developing and implementing growth plans, providing training and leadership to achieve greater sales and productivity results. She believes that the consumer is much better served by the personal care provided by small, independent and caring optometric practices. Pat will listen to your concerns and help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include training and setting goals for sales and customer service, inventory management and frame board management.
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