One of the concerns I face during optical consultations is a lack of planning by dispensaries on short-term, mid-term and long-term goals for their businesses. Since it's the beginning of a new year, it is the perfect time to look at where you are, where you would like to be and begin to take some positive steps to reach those goals.
Your first step toward a more profitable, prosperous New Year in business is to sit down and make two lists: one list itemizing what you feel the strengths of your practice are, and one that lists issues and concerns that you feel need to be addressed. Allow staff to participate in this exercise with you. They may notice things you haven't. By listing strengths on which they may have a direct impact, you reinforce their feelings of accomplishment at the same time.
Once you have your lists, focus on the strengths first. Look at what you do well, and find ways to expand on that. Do you feel you have a great staff? Can you make it better by instituting a staff incentive program? If you already have one, perhaps you’ll want to add another layer to it based on performance of revenue in the practice. Do you think your optical is upscale and offers the latest styles? Again, play to this strength, and enhance it. Add a wine-tasting night once a month, or a fashion show each season by joining with a clothing boutique to feature the latest from both shops. Don't drop the ball on your strengths: it's the reason people shop with you, and you need to continue to work on those reasons.
Now, pull out the list of concerns and configure them in different ways:
1. Most easily remedied 2. Least expensive to remedy 3. Most important to you, personally, to address
After realigning your concerns, compare the three new lists and see which items are at the top of each list. For example, if longer-than-desired-wait times of patients in the office is on the lists, take action. (It’s easily and inexpensively remedied, for example, by changing your booking schedule if it's an examination issue, or keeping track of when this problem seems to occur, so that you can then gauge when you need the most people in the office to help with 'rush hours'). Resolving a concern will allow you to feel less pressured and stressed, which can reflect in your office's atmosphere.
You will quickly find that the three lists have several items at the tops that can be addressed quickly, inexpensively, and help you feel better about how your practice is run. Then build on these 'smaller victories.' Your sense of accomplishment, as well as the monetary increases you will see from watching your practice more closely, will spur you on to begin to tackle the bigger goals on your list of concerns.
Every six months, sit down with staff and begin again. Assess your strengths and weaknesses as a practice. Your strengths should always remain strengths: don't forgo the things you do well simply to address other issues or you’ll lose clientele. If you see something drop off your strength list, go back and review why it's no longer there. And as time goes on, your list of concerns and negatives should grow smaller and smaller.
It's a simple concept, but one of the most effective business marketing ideas there is. Write it down on paper. Or even on a whiteboard in the break room so it's constantly in every staff member's view. By seeing these things in black and white, and then seeing items crossed off your 'to do' list and added to your list of strengths, the morale of your entire practice will be raised. Your customers will see the difference. And so will your bottom line.
Nikki DiBacco, ABO, NCLE, is the owner of DnD Consulting & Design, a company that offers a wide range of services to optical professionals, a writer and educator in Panama City, FL, and founder of eyecoalition.com. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with comments and/or suggestions for future topics.