IDOC actively shares industry-focused articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos and other thought leadership with our members and other optometric practitioners. Below, you will find links to our growing library of educational materials and multi-media assets written and created by IDOC's team of seasoned industry experts.
Susan Daly | 4/13/2018

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 friends with data. Both of my parents are math teachers, but I only took one math course in college. I answered one question on the final, wrong by the way, the Professor gave me a “C” as a favor and asked me not to retake the course. He didn’t ever want to see me again. The feeling was mutual.

 I didn’t come to love business math until I owned a business. That’s how it goes with learning. It very often comes late and not nearly as swift as would be most helpful. The isolation of the independent meant that industry benchmarks and quantitative comparisons reached me as a trickle. By the time I found a new way to evaluate my performance, the opportunity had been living in my business for too many years.

 How do we use data, and numbers, to identify opportunities in the independent before the opportunity becomes a problem? Start by looking at where you are today. We won’t know what data is important to us until we know what data is available to us.

 Inventory -- Display Capacity – Understock -- Annual Frame Sales -- Turn Rate -- Per Patient Revenue -- Frame Capture Rate -- AR% -- New Patient Ratio -- Patient-Owned Frame % -- $200+ Frames Sold List % -- Eyewear % of Gross Revenue -- 3rd Party Collections / Exam -- 3rd Party Optical Rev / Exam -- 3rd Party % of New Patient Exams -- Total Revenue by day of the week -- Rev / Exam by day of the week -- Optical Rev / Exam by day of the week --- not to mention the important things like Gross Revenue – COGS – Labor -- Net Revenue – and Net Profit!

Phew. Right?! And that’s just looking at your practice. Then, we have to benchmark ourselves by size, by region, and nationally.

Once you know where you are today, there are two ways, okay three, to go about attacking change in these metrics.

The Socialist

Identify our key performance indicators, those metrics we believe are under-performing, and we believe could lead to an exponentially larger ROI if they were to improve. Have everyone in the practice start working on those metrics at the same time. Growth is, after all, a group effort, and moves most quickly when everyone is swimming in the same direction. When things do improve, celebrate as a team, creating culture as well as profits.

The Capitalist

The “every man for himself” policy, but not nearly as harsh as it sounds. With this approach, we allow the team to work on individual metrics independently. Let each person choose what interests them most, and what they believe they can affect. Allow each person to “own” the success or failure of that piece of the business. Time and time again, ownership of the outcome has been a proven driving factor for engagement. Have the team report back the learnings from things they’ve tried to educate the rest of the practice. This is a habit that is foreign to the vast majority of people, but the theory goes, you really know it when you can teach it.

The Eff-thist

That’s when you just down give a damn anymore. Confronted with the myriad ways we need to improve, it is easy to throw in the towel and not change anything. Conversely, we can also gather a staff meeting, when we probably haven’t had one in years, and shout down from our high horse, things need to improve! The implication being you, as a Manager, are not happy, and everyone is going to lose their jobs. Hardly an atmosphere that breeds success wouldn’t you say?

It doesn’t matter which approach you choose, things will change. You will come to love or loath math and the metrics it represents, or you will ignore it entirely. Things will either improve, or get worse, but over time things will change whether we focus on them or not. By focusing on our 10 little friends, we find that the pace and the trajectory of change is firmly in our control. The difference between the Activist and the Eff-thist will be whether you deserve to be profitable, or your patients are doing you a favor.

If you’ve been in practice for any amount of time, you’ll deserve a “C” in something. So, will you take the class again with a different instructor, or give up entirely? That’s where IDOC and Optical Consulting can help.

I’ve seen the data, so if you need me, I’ll be at the gym, torturing my abs instead of my metaphors.


Susan Daly
Associate Director, Optical Strategy & Development
After attending Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences, Susan studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster and earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She spent the first part of her career working with large retailers before shifting her focus to eyewear, serving as the Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses and Buyer for Cohen’s Fashion Optical. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin serving IDOC members as the Optical Management Consultant then Manager of Strategic Partnerships. Susan works closely with the industry’s largest and most influential frame manufacturers to provide value and service to the independent where they need it most.
Trending Blogs

5/19/2022 | Author: Steve Vargo

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

5/3/2022 | Author: Amy Alvarez

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

4/15/2022 | Author: Lana Greene

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

4/8/2022 | Author: Steven Festa

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

4/4/2022 | Author: Jelissa Brooks

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

3/15/2022 | Author: Nathan Hayes

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

2/28/2022 | Author: Steve Vargo

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

2/17/2022 | Author: Amy Alvarez

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

2/7/2022 | Author: Lana Greene

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

1/24/2022 | Author: Steven Festa

Does hearing SEO make your eyes glaze over a bit and cause your mind to wander? If you answered yes, then you are not alone. While tough to grasp initially, SEO is important for your practice, and as providers of Read more

© 2022 IDOC. All Rights Reserved