Business Tip: Let's implement some change
Before we implement change, it is important to have an outcome in mind. Otherwise the change that we might create will not have any relevance or importance to us. At an even higher level, all of us will have a "PURPOSE". This is something that "inspires us or pushes our buttons". This should be expressed not only through your business but also everything you do in your life and personal relationships. Make sure that any change you make to your business is consistent with your "PURPOSE", otherwise the change could in fact be detrimental to your direction.
Let's stop the airy, fairy stuff and now get into some meat. For those that have not read my E-Book "Seven Critical Mistakes that most Optometrists make..." this is often a good template for change. An important thing to remember is that it is a good idea not to take on too much at once. At any given time do not try and change or focus on more than three things.
Using my practice as an example let me share with you what we are currently trying to implement:
1. More bums on seats - over the course of the last 8 years we have gradually gone through our database and incentivised only patients that are interested in their eye health to continue using our services. This means that many unprofitable patients no longer use our service. In the first instance it is great, as it has opened up nearly 50% of my appointment book and we are actually more profitable now.
We have all heard of the 80/20 rule:
In most businesses, because we are not selective with who we provide service to, 80% of the profit is generated by 20% of the patients. The other sad fact is that the unprofitable patients often take up most of our time, so we are not in a position to service those that appreciate us.
Our practice (by consultation fee structure) has moved about 25% of our database to other service providers, yet our profitability has increased and our overall turnover has not gone down. The next project now is to fill up the appointment book with profitable patients.
We are now partnering with one of our suppliers Essilor, to help us achieve this. Essilor have helped us design a Corporate Vision program that we will roll out to the many Corporate Entities in Sydney CBD over the course of next year.
2. More frame sales - we have been flat with our frame sales in the last 12 months. This is because we have changed the focus of our practice to consultation and eye health care. It is quite common for a patient to happily pay over $200 for their consultation fee, which leaves less money in the kitty for frame purchase. This overall has been a good move as our consultation fees do not have any cost of goods, so we are now more profitable, but seeing our spectacle sales drop a little now needs some reaction.
Again we have partnered with one of suppliers Ciba, to help us increase our frame sales. You might ask, "How will a contact lens supplier help increase my frame sales?". Surely they are competing against each other. The answer to this is you can choose what this means to your patients. With the help of Ciba we are focusing on increasing our daily disposable lenses by offering a small complimentary supply of Ciba daily disposables with every purchase of a complete set of spectacles.
3. Increase our daily disposable contact lenses - historically our practice has been very strong in contact lenses, but this has mainly been due to our expertise in keratoconus, post graft, orthokeratology etc. Our disposable business has been relatvely strong but not outstanding. Recently the "Microbial Keratitis Study" by Fiona Stapleton, Lisa Keay and Fiona Edwards of the CCLRU, seems to suggest that daily disposable contact lenses are the safest of all contact lenses. In hindsight I don't think this is surprising but it is nice to be supporting our advice to our patients with evidence based medicine where possible.
Good eye health is always going to be one of the pillars that I use to promote contact lenses to my patients, so promoting daily disposable contact lens wear is good for the patient, good for the practice and good for the contact lens industry. Everyone wins.
By pairing up the sale of the spectacles with contact lenses, our practice is promoting these optical modalities as complimentary, not competing against each other.
Stay tuned over the course of the next 6 months and I will reveal any success, failure or fine tuning that comes our way. Remember every change you attempt to implement will not necessarily be successful. The key is to come up with a hypothesis that makes sense, implement the change, measure the outcomes and then make appropriate adjustments.
Now that I have revealed the three things we are currently focusing on, what are you going to focus on? One piece of advice is that you will need strong IT to implement change. We will get back to out IT series by Richard Rees from Lookup.com in early 2006. In the mean time:
Contact Richard Rees for expert advice. Even if you are not in Sydney, Richard has a network of IT specialists around the country that can solve anything from your current problems to even setting up fully paperless practices from scratch.