Category Archives: Year End

Don’t Live on an Island

Don’t Live on an Island

The first quarter is already in the mirror but 75% of the year lies ahead. The first quarter was exciting and fast. You are going to see new vendors added to the Acquios Alliance and more coming down the road. I met with many business leaders of various vendors at Vision Expo East. They are ready, willing, and able to help us take Acquios Alliance to a new level. Keep an eye open for many exciting new events to make you and your team better.

Recently, I have seen many posts on social media sites asking others how to help with burnout and dissatisfaction. I responded a couple of times to some but not all. It made me scratch my head and ask a question. Why are people feeling this way? Yes, I think employees have become a key focus of every day. From speaking with various clients, it has been a challenge to get many to work their scheduled hours and more. Many basic  fundamental issues are causing many to be stressed. One simple but important rule of management is to always complain up. But what if you are the owner operator of a single doctor practice? This same rule applies to multi doctor practices as well. Each doctor must respect this rule and follow it to the letter. Failure to do so can cause significant drama and stress in the office should any OD in a single or multi doctor practice shares thoughts of any concern or negative thoughts to staff. Negativity causes doubt and concern within the office. This will force staff to talk and not in a good way. How to correct this?

Don’t live on an island. There are avenues for you to turn. First and foremost, lean on your advisor. Secondly, did you know Acquios Advisors is hosting ZOOM calls in the evening for doctors to participate? These calls are for you to share great times happening in your office as well as to look for support from your colleagues. This will help you to have a listening ear to share what is on your mind and learn from others who may have been in the same boat as you. Support is here and we are excited to offer this time to make your work life better. Watch for information about Cheers with Colleagues in our email announcements and more.

In addition to doctors’ meetings on ZOOM we are also going to begin to offer an open session to managers of active advising clients to join calls every six to eight weeks. Colleague to Colleague calls will be a great resource for managers seeking support and input from their equals in offices across the country. This too is going to help enhance your practice and your team.

There is no reason to go through your days, weeks, and months alone. Please know others have been where you are and worked through it. It is a great idea and plan to share with others what was exciting in your day and why you love what you do! You can make a difference in your colleagues’ day. At times you may need a “pick me up”, through communication and collaboration with us and your colleagues you will find a new avenue to make yourself happier and more successful.

Remind yourself why you became an optometrist. Share those great moments in your practice career where you made a significant difference in your patients’ lives. Tell the story about why you opened your new practice or purchased the location from another OD. Share your passion for why you became a practice owner with your team. They need to know; they will want to own. If you don’t share your vision, they will only think you do this for money. I have never heard a client say, “I want to open my own practice or buy this practice to make more money. It is typically about being in control of patient care, or being able to make the decisions for what is best for my patients and the team I will have. Tell them why you went into business for yourself. You will get their support by doing so.

If you have seen my YouTube video, then you know this. Review your CORE Values, your mission statement, with your team. Challenge your team, ask them, “are we living this mission?” If the answer is no or the staff is not engaged, it is time to say, okay team, let’s develop a new office mission, a new mission for ourselves. Develop a new mission the current staff has a voice in creating. Make certain they are part of the development and finalization of the statement. Why do you ask? If they create and finalize it with you, it is a team mission, one they created and own. When addressing team issues and challenges, the more you involve them when resolving the issue at hand, the more they play a role in the fix, the more they will own it and live it! Make this happen yesterday! It just might help your team to work better for one another, you, your practice, and of course your patients.

As you can see, we are always listening and looking to develop avenues to help each of you be the success you seek. Don’t let 2024 get away. Don’t live on an island. Join us for these sessions and make your days, weeks, and months better. The future is bright and there is no reason to go it alone. We are here and we welcome each of you to participate.

 

Sincerely

Rick Guinotte

President/CEO

Looking Forward to the Future

Looking Forward to the Future

The Holidays are upon us and 2024 will be here before we know it. As this year is coming to an end, it is always great to reflect on what went well and celebrate achievements. It is also a great opportunity for reflecting on experiences you were not satisfied with. Challenge yourself to celebrate exciting achievements in the new year when they happen. Be careful of not saying to yourself, I will tell the team tomorrow. While the situation is fresh in everyone’s mind, talk it through, take notes and learn from all, what could we have done to be better for the next time? You will find this to be helpful for your future and the future of your team. Live in your moment, take the time today to be happy and make the others around feel good for all they bring to you and your family, and your business. When the day does not go as expected and/or an event does not go as you had planned or expected, have a conversation sooner than you have in the past.

The new year is exciting and daunting all at the same time. There is so much opportunity presenting itself. Take the opportunities given to you for comradery, interaction, networking, and more. Here at Acquios Alliance, we have been working hard to provide you with events and connections that are detrimental to making this happen.

This past year we launched our Living Your Mission (LYM) event. It was a great success for all. In April we will host the next LYM in Kansas City, MO. We will have more to offer and deliver than many of you can imagine. Our team led by Scott Cline developed the Executive Management Program. The first class is on track to graduate in January and the second class is off to a thriving start. The next time this will be available is mid-year, June 2024. We look forward to seeing more doctors and managers attend. Additionally, Acquios Alliance and Advisors sponsored a virtual frame shopping event. Eighteen vendors participated; many are asking when the next one will occur. We have great news. January 2024 it will be happening. We are looking to make it easier for you who are working as associate ODs and balancing your time planning and executing all the steps necessary to open a new successful practice easier. Imagine taking a couple of hours out of your day to visit, learn, and understand what vendors have to offer you without making ten to fifteen appointment times to shop for product for your optical.

Building a team can be the most challenging step of being a business owner. I won’t say I am perfect and hit a homerun on every new hire….but I can say the team we have to work with each one of our clients is passionate and eager to help the clients we serve to exceed their expectations and goals. Changes in organizations need to be reviewed and happen for various reasons. There are businesses/practices/offices where a person currently in a leadership role needs to consider stepping aside to allow others to step up and take the business to the next level. This is not a negative action. It is what can be best for your practice. Invest in your team leaders. Do not be afraid to have a conversation to discuss opportunities. As you all know, I am all about communication and making sure everyone understands your mission, core values, and goals. From your Associate Optometrists, Receptionists, Managers, Optometric Technicians, Frame Stylists and Opticians, Claims Management Specialists to your advisors, they all need to know where you are going and learn how they can and will get you there.

The Optometric Industry is continuously evolving. Embrace the evolution. It is great for private practice. We are seeing more and more doctors supporting the independent optometrists. For those of you looking to exit your practice in the coming six to ten years, it is time to plan. There are many optometrists very interested in buying a private practice. It is time to plan and look ahead. Banks are ready willing and able to lend money. But as a seller, you can earn a little more money by doing seller financing.

Look at the technologies available for you to be more efficient in your practice while being more available to your patient base. From Optify, Optikam, Hello Rache, and new VR units for various services and tests for your patients, you can and will compete more with the online competitors. The ace card you are holding is you and your team. Your new year will be a successful one. Know we here at Acquios Alliance and Advisors are here to listen and collaboratively develop your plan to make you the success you seek no matter the goals.

Happy Holiday and Here is to a successful New Year and Beyond for All!

Sincerely,

Rick Guinotte

President/CEO

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.

 

Sincerely

Rick Guinotte

President/CEO

20/20 Vision for the New Year

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!

For more information on preparing for the new year, check out our webinars on Planning for Year End and 20/20 Vision for 2020!