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 areas: utilities are higher, the labor market is a mess, and add to that the fact that vendors are raising wholesale prices. What is a business owner to do?
If necessity is the mother of invention, it’s now necessary to consider how often you evaluate different parts your business. Consider questions such as:
Optimizing and staying on top of revenue-related processes matters more when inflation is eating into your “real” income. Minimize inflation’s impact on your practice by regularly evaluating all aspects of your financial health.
If you’ll recall high school economics: when producers’ and service providers’ costs go up, they pass those costs on to consumers. You should too.
Many owners will feel that it’s not fair to ask their patients to pay more, but remember that your responsibility doesn’t stop with your patients’ pocketbooks. You still have an obligation to your team, to continue to make payroll, and perhaps even adjust employee wages due to their increased cost of living. You still have obligations to their vendors, their lenders, and even (especially?) themselves and their families.
When practices raise their prices, staff will often be uncomfortable. They will worry about what patients might say. I recommend you make a bet with them and give everyone an out if patients do react badly.
Here’s the bet:
“We’re going to make this change and stick to it for four weeks. If patients balk, we will change back. But I’m willing to bet they won’t say a thing.
Here’s the deal: for the next four weeks you cannot apologize for the new fee, call attention to the fact that we raised it, or mention that we changed it.
Do that, and if patients still complain, we’ll change it back. But I bet they won’t say a thing.”
It’s painful to have to make these changes now as we’re faced with inflation we haven’t seen in decades while coming off an exhausting pandemic. But regularly reviewing and updating your pricing—among other parts of your practice—is an important habit to develop as an owner.
Need help evaluating your pricing, markups, or wages? IDOC’s financial experts are here to help. Our financial management team offers customized, one-on-one guidance and advice as well as the most advanced business analytics in the industry. Stay financially protected and positioned for growth amidst economic changes with IDOC Financial Services.
Hayley Stewart, IDOC Financial Services Manager
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I’d like to share an incredible customer service experience I had recently.
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The Science of Selling
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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
“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