Prepare for the New Year
Where does the time go? It is time to ask yourselves these questions. Where is my practice today? What is my vision for the future? Am I set for the end of year with tax planning? What are my goals for 2024? Am I prepared to grow in 2024? Is my staff ready, willing, and trained to deliver the care and service necessary to be as efficient and knowledgeable as possible to educate my patients about the lifestyle products and services we provide or plan to add in the New Year?
Those are a lot of questions to answer, but they need to be asked and you need to begin planning. We all know this is a great time to look for new instruments not only to enhance the practice, but also for tax benefits. We all know it is time to do a thorough inventory of frames, contact lenses, accessories, and other items you have inventoried for your dry eye spas and more. Remember, it is time to look at the eyewear, both contact lenses and eyeglasses waiting for patients to come pick up those orders. If they have balances owed, now is the time to collect that money and dispense the product.
Evaluate those frames in your optical. Have they turned over two and one half to three times in the past twelve months? If the answer is some brands are and some are not, now is the time to create a plan to sell those brands down and bring a new fresh independent frame brand into your office. Be different, offer your patients a product they don’t see in every chain location or other practices.
How many more years are left on your lease? Does the space you are in accommodate the business growth you are experiencing and into the future? Do you need to start to renegotiate your lease? This needs to be started eighteen to twenty-four months before the lease expires. If you wait too long the landlord knows you cannot move out overnight, plan it so you have time to negotiate and have options to consider. Do you plan to add an associate in the coming six to twenty-four months? Should you consider buying your own building? What would it cost, and can you afford such an investment? As you look at the current space, if you plan to stay, is it time to refurbish your practice? Does it need a fresh coat of paint and new flooring? Do you need a full remodel with new fixtures, lighting, and all? Investing in your space or relocating will help you grow your practice. Don’t put it off too long. If you are considering the addition of another doctor, a dry eye spa, a call center or other, I encourage you to explore these options. The investments you make in your practice will add value for yourself and your team. It will make your office more marketable to the new associate or partner and/or new owner when it is time for your exit strategy.
Speaking of exit strategy… Have you completed your estate planning in the event something unplanned occurs? You need to and must do this, not for yourself but for the wellbeing of your spouse, children, and the practice. Should you have a valuation completed for your office? Remember a valuation is based on the previous three years. The New Year, 2024 now means we will not have the challenges and adjustments to make in the calculations of the valuation because of the challenges the pandemic in 2020 brought us. All these items are your legacy, and you need to protect them, and yourself.
Many of you Acquios Alliance members are also part of other groups and organizations. I see many of our members active in as many as two to five different organizations. I say this all the time, each one may bring different values to different practices. It is time to review each of them. You need to measure what the Return on Investment is for the vendors you pay. Are you seeing any ROI in the vendors you are associated with and work with? From buying groups to businesses where you purchase accessory items, they all need to be reviewed. The organizations and vendors you order contact lenses, frames, labs for your ophthalmic lenses, office supplies, and all. You need to divide these vendors among your staff and assign them to review the prices you are paying now and look at other vendors to consider changing. Just because you have done business with one company for the past years does not mean you should not look for something different and new. Make this an action plan for and with your team. You won’t be disappointed.
Do not overlook yourself. Yes you, your professional fees. Do you need to increase the fees? Is it time to evaluate the third party plans you accept? What is the ROI on the plans paying you for the time you are with your patients. If you never analyze them, you will never know. Look at them, question them and ask yourself, does this plan benefit or hurt me or my practice and cause unnecessary chaos for my team? Act and you will be happy!
What about those annual tools we all need to review and in all honesty are not exciting or fun.; HIPAA acknowledgement forms and compliance. Your employee handbook manual, when was the last time you read your manual? Have you revised it to be current with the times? Do you make sure your staff has signed off on it this year? Start the new year out with everyone reading it once you have it updated by December 1, 2023 to know and understand the policies you have in place for the coming year. Dress code, attendance, the definition of a workday, vacation and bonus structures are just a few items you need to review and update. Make it happen! As I said it is not exciting, but it will make the new year easier and better for all. Policies and rules are necessary for a successful business. Again, in the words of Nike, Just Do It!
As you look at your year-to-date numbers and see where your top line growth is today, begin to ask yourself where you want to be next month and at the end of the year. Begin to look at the number of days you are working in the clinic. Are you looking to work less and make more money? Are you going to add another doctor to help with the patient’s demands and increase your practice. What will you need to add another doctor? Will it be an additional exam lane? Will you add a “specialty” to the practice? What will the out-of-pocket expense look like and what will the investment generate? Be conservative on the projections.
Never overlook your most important assets which are your employees, your work family, and your team. Do you have enough hours staffed and scheduled to care for your patients to exceed the expectations outlined in your practice mission statement, your core values and to meet your personal expectations? Do they know your why? Do they know why you became an Optometrist? Do they know why you started your own practice? Do they think it is because you wanted to make larger amounts of money for yourself? If the answer to that is maybe or yes, you need to share with them your why! Did you open your practice because you did not want to be told how and when to care for your patients? Are you in a better place because you can select and make all sorts of decisions and recommendations on how you run your independent business and clinic? You need to educate your employees about you and how the organization you came from operated. Many of your employees have no idea about the benefits of an independent practice. It is not easy at all! You could be employed in a large organization, arrive at work, see patients, and leave. None of the other items listed before now would you have to be concerned about, and we know there is more. You operate a private practice for your patients to deliver better care, you do this for your staff, so they have a fun place to come to each day and build relationships with their fellow team members, you do this because it is fun. Here at Acquios Alliance and Advisors we are thrilled to be a part of every practice we are associated with.
As you read through your edition of this newsletter, please consider the vendors within and throughout as all of them have been carefully vetted and are only added when we know with certainty that they are on your side. They are here to help you make your practice more efficient and better with you tomorrow and beyond!
Thank you all and here is to productive close to the 2023 fiscal year to each and every one of you. Whether you are an owner, an associate OD, Optometric Technician, Optician/Apprentice/Frame stylist, receptionist billing and coding specialist or other, you are all appreciated. Remember the patient you helped who never wore glasses and you dispensed the glasses with a -2.00 OU and the smile on his or her face. That is why you do what you do. Never forget it. You make a difference in each of your patients’ lives.