Monthly Archives: August 2022

Easier Is Not Always Better

Easier Is Not Always Better

It is amazing to see that August is already here and the fourth quarter is coming fast. Owning and managing a business in these past couple of years has been anything but boring. We have all faced challenges with staffing levels, availability, illness, changes in the industry, making investments to better grow your business, and of course managing the processes within the office to make certain the patient care is at a level we all want, and they expect. When speaking with many of our clients, discussing appointment book management, inventory management, vision plans, cash flow, and more, one thing we try to find is the easiest solution to the challenges we face.

For example, appointment book management has been a conversation with many. We need to make certain we have the right number of comprehensive exams with the balance of the medical encounters along with understating the ROI of the various vision plans accepted in offices. It is easier to sign up with many vision plans to fill your books but is easier better? Reducing the dependency on the vision plans will require work, time, and marketing efforts. Will it be better for your practice? The short answer is yes. Is it worth the time and work you need to put forth? The short answer, again, is yes.

Eliminating some or all of your vision plans will increase your receipts per patient. You will work more efficiently and increase your net profits. Most all vision plans have changed their direction from what they once were to what they have become today. Their policies have evolved to benefit them while keeping reimbursements to you at statis quo. They have evolved. Should you and your practice evolve?  Acquios Advisors has tools to help you with this.

Your lease, I am certain you have recently reviewed and began to plan for negotiating better terms for the next 5 or so years. Have you explored other options? It is easier to delay or even ignore this important exercise because it is expensive, scary, and unknown. Plan and review your current lease for the renewals now. It is easier to delay and put it off and sign what the landlord presents. But it may not be best for you and your practice. Easier is not always better.

Many offices have been enticed by various labs and their inventory services. There are some optometrists out there who have managed optical departments and know how to do it properly. That number is far fewer than the number of Optometrists that own their own practice. Various labs now suggest specific branded product for optical to make it easier to manage the frame expenses and order the job complete through the lab while reducing the distraction of frame representatives. The labs also say the turnaround time will be shorter. Is a shorter turnaround time important to your patients? Survey them. You will find most patients will say, I just want them done right so I can see properly.

We have some offices that have committed over 70% of their inventory to the brands the labs carry. This removes your opticians voice, your team’s input, what excites them, and what ownership they have in the operations of your optical. As a past frame representative, opticians sell the product they select, the styles they love and support the representatives they build a business relationship with. Yes, there are processes to reduce reps time with your team in the office, but there should be an evaluation of your frame inventory completed by you and your team to identify what is turning and what is not. Decisions need to be made to sell some product down and bring in other new brands. Your optical should represent you and the culture you have developed in your office. If the opticians have no voice in the product they offer, what makes your optical better than a chain location? Your inventory should be different. It should tell about the type of practice you are and will be for years to come. Limiting your selection of the brands you inventory and offer your patients to shop, does that meet your practice mission statement? Is easier better?

Is one frame vendor able to satisfy your patient wants and needs? The answer is no. Why do we focus on only one lab? There are labs that may offer better pricing on better lenses for one lens style or another. One lab may do better than your lab on specific types of prescriptions. We tend to focus on all work going to the same lab as much as possible. Is the product they turn out best for your patient? You have patients with different needs and diffident lifestyles. You have patients with vision plans and some without. Can an independent lab offer you better pricing because like private practice they try to serve too many plans that pay less?  Is there another lab that will represent your mission more closely and prove your office to be better than the other competition? The answer is yes. To only use one lab because you only pay one bill, have one box to send each day is easier. But is easier always better?

Automated answering services, press one for the receptionist, press two for the optical, press three for billing, sounds easier, doesn’t it? Unless you are the one calling in. Do people love those systems? I for one do not, are they easier? Some might say yes, are they best for your practice? In today’s world, people in general want great customer service. They want to hear a voice on the phone, saying “please” and “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. Can this be achieved by a robot? What makes your practice different, better, or unique? It is your team and the personality of your employees that make your practice. Embrace them, teach them, guide them to better. Any company can automate their phones, not everyone values the voice, but your patients will. Is easier better?

Contrary to many people’s beliefs, there are systems to be adapted to all practices to address the items mentioned above. We have shown people the way and improve the overall performance of their practices. Imagine if Ritz Carlton replaced their receptionists with kiosks, their cleaning staff with Rumbas and automated cleaning systems, their chefs and kitchen staff with vending machines. They would lose what has made them one of the brands with the highest of expectations. Review your mission statement and your core values, remind yourself of what you set out to accomplish when you became the owning doctor. Stay true why you became an optometrist and why you wanted to own your own location. I am certain it was to deliver the best service and care while offering the best products available in the industry to improve my patient’s quality of life. Do it with a team that is more like family.  Easier is not always better.



Rick Guinotte