Reflection and Goals: Those are two things that come to mind when approaching the end of one year, and the beginning of another. They seem to have even more importance when entering the new decade. This is a chance to examine what has brought you success and what has brought challenges either within the last year or the last couple years. Reviewing your short and long-term goals can help decide the targets for the new year. Additionally, this is a time to examine how you want to grow your practice in the long term. You can set benchmarks for your practice to help drive growth into the new decade.
When looking at the objectives created for your practice, it is time to ask yourself whether they were met. By turning to your financial statements, you will be able to get a better image of the overall health of your practice, and these will help you determine where you are with your goals. They can demonstrate where there is strong growth in the office and where there is room for improvement. By identifying these areas, you will be able to more accurately establish short- and long-term targets. This will help to drive your practice and employees to newer and greater heights when you can see a clear picture of how the office is performing.
One of the most important tools available to help you and your practice is your business advisor, accountant or financial advisor. These professionals help you understand the financial statements. This allows you to more clearly and accurately establish targets for the new year and decade. A business advisor, accountant or financial advisor can help create an action plan so that these goals being set are achievable. This may include setting up a budget or cash flow document or having an accountability system set up. Meeting with the professional you set financial goals with, more than once a year besides just around tax time, will help you to stay on track to achieve, and plan accordingly to exceed your, objectives.
Taking the time to reflect on your previous goals and understanding which did well, and identify the areas of improvement, can help guide you to your 2020 goals. These targets and objectives can be broad or narrow. For example, they could be wanting to add another practice sometime within the next couple years or increase the number of multiple pairs sold this next year. These goals can be as simple as wanting to replace or improve office furniture or as complicated as figuring out the best manner to increase patient retention, when to add a full-time associate, or plan your exit strategy. All your goals do not have to be related to the practice’s financial health. They can relate back to the employees or patient care. Having goals that improve employee satisfaction and the culture of the office as well as patient satisfaction, will also affect the financial growth of a practice. Employees will want to stay, and patients will happily come back and refer their friends.
By reflecting on your previous goals to identify those you exceeded, and which are still a work in progress, you can set up objectives for the new year to help your practice move forward in a positive direction. As the new year approaches, these are some thoughts to keep in mind to start the new decade off strong!
Online shopping has exploded. More and more people have moved from shopping in a physical store, to shopping through their phone or computer. Whether you are shopping for technology, clothes, beauty products, or even food, it can be found online. With the click of a couple buttons, the item that you have been looking for can arrive at your doorstep in a matter of just days. While this is convenient, many people don’t understand the power behind their online purchases. We as online shoppers need to cut down on the amount of online shopping that we do.
Many stores are now closing doors due to the inability to compete with growing e-commerce. According to CNN, store closing announcements more than tripled to 7,000 in 2017. This count continues to rise as time goes on. A large portion of these are due to online shopping. For example, Radio Shack was put out of business as a result of online shopping. A year before they closed, they made a joke at themselves stating that their store was from the 80s. It simply could not keep up. Sears is another large chain store that has closed 123 of their locations. According to the Chicago Tribune, this put over 50,000 workers out of business. In an interview with Greater Boston News (WGBH), Nancy Koehn, a historian, Harvard Business School professor and entrepreneurial leadership expert explained “Sears is a store that lived through the Great Depression and world wars, but it can’t survive the age of online shoppers”.
The closing of all these stores is taking its toll on employees. As I previously stated, Sears alone caused 50,000 workers to lose their jobs. This does not take into account other stores that have closed their doors for good. Brian Schaitkin, a Senior Economist at The Conference Board, writes that retail has the potential to lose over five million jobs by 2040. These are people that have families to care for and children to feed. According to the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas, over 80 percent of workers in the retail industry do not have college degrees, and over half lack any post-secondary education. When these workers lose their retail jobs, not having further education makes finding another job even harder. For some of these people, the money that they make from this job is what enables them to have a home, food and to be able to support their families. These job losses are leading to poverty and homelessness due to a lack of income.
The biggest contributor to the online shopping trend is Amazon. As Mrinalini Krishna, former television arm of the Economic Times with a Bachelors of Arts with Honors in economics contends, “Amazon has disrupted traditional retail and accelerated the demise of struggling players”. Amazon is slowly suffocating the retail market. It has gotten to be such a large company that lawsuits don’t have the ability to harm them. They have been caught selling counterfeit Mercedes Benz parts, copyright of other companies’ products and forging fake reviews of products. Most of their customers aren’t even aware of these problems. A person may argue that while Amazon reduces jobs in the traditional retail market, they create jobs within their company. However, the amount of jobs created by Amazon does not in any way contend with the amount of jobs that the retail market produces.
Another side of e-commerce that is becoming increasingly more prominent is the world of online optometry. According to the Vision Council, a non-profit trade association for manufacturers and suppliers for the optical industry in the United States, consumers bought nearly $600 million worth of prescription glasses online last year alone. With the growth in purchases of glasses online, there are consequences that many people are not aware of. The American Optometric Association, warns “when glasses are bought online, accuracy, lens durability and fit become questionable”. This is a similar situation to what happened with Amazon and other online stores not having enough product quality control. It is one thing to risk product quality when purchasing a new jacket or pair of shoes, but compromising your health and vision is not worth saving a few dollars. Wearing glasses that have the wrong prescription in them or have false measurements, which has happened many times using online companies, can cause headaches and damage your eyesight over time.
I have to admit, online shopping is palpably easier. You don’t have to take the time to leave the comfort of your own home to go to the store. Instead you can simply pull out your phone, click a few buttons and you are done. However, there is a factor about in-store shopping that simply cannot be replaced by online purchases. When shopping in a physical store, you have the ability to try on clothes to see whether or not they fit or if they are, in fact, of good quality. As projected by Retail Dive, a digital publication reaching over 599,000 industry decision makers, the ability to see, touch and feel products as well as take items home immediately rank highest among the reasons consumers choose to shop in stores versus online. Along with online shopping comes the hassle of return policies in which you are not guaranteed all of your money back. This is due to added on shipping and handling fees. Sometimes, it’s easier to just keep the product than having to go through repackaging it, taking it to the post office and paying money to have a company take back the product that didn’t meet your standards. Instead of having to go through this long and expensive process, shopping in-stores is the best solution.
Overall, the world of online shopping can become dangerous if we continue to abuse it’s usage. Cutting out e-commerce as a whole is simply unrealistic. Instead, consumers need to become aware of the impact that our actions have on others as well as ourselves. Continuing on the path that we are on, (increasing our amount of online shopping) will lead to huge problems down the road for ourselves and for others. So next time you feel as though you need to purchase something online, remember to think about the impact that it has on the people of your community such as the hard workers and small business owners. Make the decision to support stores and put forth the effort shop in store more often than online.
Let me begin this post on Time Management by mentioning that this has been on my long list of ‘to dos’ for over a month. Am I really the right person to be writing something on Time Management? Sure I am. Being effective at Time Management does not mean that everything I am given to do is done right away. It means that a person is able to take their tasks, outline which tasks are highest priority, and tackle the highest priorities first; doing their best to not let things fall through the cracks, and saying, “no” when the task load doesn’t allow for anything else.
See, I can be the type of person who looks at my never-ending list of projects and can be paralyzed by the sheer volume of things that are expected of me. When that happens, my urge is to do anything EXCEPT the tasks on my lists. My urge is to check social media, address that email that JUST came into my inbox, start an unrelated conversation with a coworker… anything that will distract from the work at hand. Having processes in place to fight that side of me is how I have become successful.
To get started when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I borrow from the idea behind Dave Ramsey’s budget snowball here, in that, I take the SMALLEST higher priority tasks and knock them out first. Getting SOMEthing done makes me feel accomplished and gets the motivation flowing to take on my next, bigger, high priority tasks.
One of the most important parts of being successful at Time Management, is making sure there is a record of every task that I need to get done. One sure way to forget something is to not write it down, not schedule it into the calendar. If someone makes a request of me, I will let them know that yes, I can do that, but please make sure to send me an email so I have record of this request. A paper trail is so important.
I will also plug tasks into my calendar at random times the next day, or when it fits, before its due date, so I am reminded of the task. This does not mean I necessarily do it at 10:30am on Wednesday, 8/14, when I plugged it in, but if it ends up working at that time, I get it done. If not, it’s recorded in my calendar and I can move it to a day/time that better fits. Bottom line, I try very hard to not let things slip through the cracks. I do it, but I always know when it happens that it did not have to happen.
Taking the calendar a step further: I plan out my day. I take that list of things and those random projects I’ve plugged into my calendar and I reorganize my calendar for the day with the tasks at hand. I adjust as necessary for things that come up, or if an urgent request comes through, I move things around from day to day, but I have a plan; and as I have found is the case in ALL areas of my life, having a plan is one sure way to ensure success. If you don’t use an electronic calendar, a physical planner can work just as well. I often find, in fact, that sometimes I need to make a handwritten list to first layout all I have to do, and then I will plug tasks into the appropriate day/time in my calendar from that handwritten list.
One earth shattering thing I’ve learned about time management is realizing you CAN say, “no.” Sometimes, our task loads are just TOO full. We simply cannot take another thing at this moment. Of course, we want to use this ‘tool’ sparingly, and really consider if the thing being asked of us is too much. I often am asked to do something, and I look at my day and first instinct is to think, “No way. I can’t fit it in.” But usually with a little bit of rearranging (remember, prioritizing) I am able to add it to my schedule with no issues.
I think where we really run into problems is when we expect ourselves to complete everything immediately, and that is just not realistic. When tasks are handed to us, it’s important to ask the person the turnaround time they expect. You can then decide from there if that turnaround time is realistic for you, and if it is, pencil it in at that moment. If it doesn’t, tell the requestor that it just doesn’t fit right now, see if they can wait another day or two, OR ask if the task may be something another team member could handle. Remember, you can always ask for help from others on your team. Saying “no” or asking for help are options that we often forget about or don’t feel comfortable doing, but most people actually will highly respect you for understanding what you can and can’t handle, your limits, and for knowing how to say “no” or “I need help.”
Ultimately, we need to remember that we are only human. Tasks are going to fall through the cracks, we will need to say no and ask for help. But with a little extra effort, more often than not, your tasks will be completed thoroughly and efficiently by tackling small, higher priority items first, planning ahead, making lists, scheduling things immediately (even if they end up being rescheduled), and having open communication with everyone on your team; ensuring you are keeping everyone in the loop on how your tasks are coming and being sure that you know what is expected of you.
“How much is that going to cost?” I remember hearing those words all too often during my time working at a successful Dental office as their Office Manager. Following the inquiry from the patient, I would hear a team member reluctantly uttering the treatment amount, as if they were ashamed, almost implying the amount was too much…. does this ring a bell in your practice?
It’s a beautiful Monday morning, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the schedule is full, no one has called in sick, and I got through the drive-thru at Starbucks in less than five minutes…life is good! At this point, what could possibly go wrong? Quickly our sunny skies turn gray and the birds stop chirping as you are approached by your Rockstar employee, Cindy, the minute you walk through the clinic door; that can’t be good! As they say, if a picture was worth a thousand words, you should have seen her face. Cindy lowers her voice and tells you she needs to talk. At this point you have a feeling that you know what she is going to say; please let your gut be wrong. Sure enough, Cindy tells you that she has decided to accept a position elsewhere. You are totally caught off guard and quickly go into panic mode. Your mind starts racing and you begin wondering just where the heck you are going to find someone to replace her – there couldn’t possibly be another Cindy out there? The good news is there are plenty of ‘Cindys’ in the world, we just have to know where to look!
Everyone seems to be posting, tweeting, instagramming, or watching the latest cute cat video on YouTube. We live in an extremely connected world these days and it seems no matter where you go if you look around everyone is most likely going be looking at some sort of social media site. The amount of time spent on social media continues to increase. At this day and age, roughly 80% of the population is engaging in one or more social media platforms. So, the question keeps coming up by offices…. should I be posting, tweeting, instagramming, or creating YouTube videos for my practice?