Insights From Our Editors

10 People Outside Your Practice Who Your Success Depends On

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Nov. 13, 2019

It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Building a thriving practice requires more than just your own expertise.

Here is the network of professionals you need to incorporate into at least an annual meeting to maximize your personal and practice performance. With each of these professionals you want to create a deep dive into how they can help analyze and put into place a plan to move you and your practice forward.

Banker
Money flows through your practice in multiple streams. For example, two easy streams to identify for money flowing into a practice come from self-pay patients and third-party patients. Some practices have other incoming streams from rent or equipment sales.

Likewise, you have multiple streams of money leaving your practice – automatic bill payment and computer-generated checks. To be most successful, you need to manage every one of your income streams.

Talk to a banker to make sure that money is flowing safely and in the most effective ways into and out of your practice as well as your personal life. Banks are used to analyzing both people and businesses. Let them analyze your business and your personal use of money.

Insurance Agent
One of the key responsibilities of the CEO of any business is risk management. You must have your insurance agent analyze your practice for areas of exposed risk so that you can put in place a plan to minimize the risk. For example, you are more likely to be disabled during your practice career than you are to die during that time frame.

Most people have life insurance, but do you have disability insurance? Are you aware that there are two different types of disability insurance? One pays if you cannot continue in your profession. The other stops paying if you can be trained to work in any other job (e.g.: folding shirts at Goodwill). Which one do you have?

Attorney
We live in a litigious society. This area is also part of risk management. We need the advice, counsel and work product of attorneys.

Practice Consultant
You only know what you know. One of the key advantages of a practice consultant is that they have knowledge of many practices. Guiding you away from what doesn’t work is just as important as putting in place what does work. Be careful of practice consultants who are selling the same “box” to every practice. You should expect an individualized analysis and plan.

Eyecare Study Group
Like practices of like sizes have like problems. Get involved with practices like yours from across the country. Meet a couple of times a year in a nice place and be completely transparent with your colleagues. One study group we were involved with rotated meetings between the offices of the 10 practices that were in the group. That way you can not only hear about systems and processes, but also see them in action.

Key Vendors
All of the vendors in our profession have people behind the scenes thinking of how to improve your practice. The strategy for this is clear: the better you do, the better they will do. View the vendor reps who come into your practice as partners. Be very clear with them about the goals in your practice each vendor can help you achieve.

A Successful Entrepreneur Who Has Nothing to Do with Eyecare
You want someone to look at your practice who is successful, but is outside of eyecare. This perspective can give you a new look at your practice to see opportunities that you might overlook.

Marketing/Social Media Consultant
Within the marketing world, social media has risen to the top. A lot of practices get caught up in the shiny new marketing campaign as opposed to spending their hard-earned money and time on effective marketing efforts. Hiring a company with a history of effective marketing efforts is the best way forward. In today’s world, your social media must be effective.

Patient Focus Group
If you want to know what patients are thinking on anything from why they chose you versus the practice down the street to what patients think about the products and price points you offer, ask patients. At least once a year create a patient focus group to run through an analysis of your practice.

Personal Financial Consultant
The end result of having a practice is to ensure your future. One of the saddest things we hear is when someone says, “I hope I have enough to retire on when that time comes.” Let’s be more intentional than accidental.

Write down the age you want to retire. Write down exactly the income you will need after retirement for as long as you will live. Engage a personal financial consultant to help you put together a plan to get there. (Note: be careful of engaging a personal financial consultant who is trying to sell you something like insurance or stocks and bonds.)

What action plan can we put in place today? Don’t be overwhelmed by this list. When people get overwhelmed, they tend to get stuck in doing nothing. Instead, identify the area that would have the most impact on either your practice or your personal life. Start working on that one area today. Once it is in place, work your way through the rest of the list.

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