By Steve Sunder
April 15, 2020
Office shutdowns from the pandemic are nearing the one-month mark. Effectively managing your practice’s finances is paramount. You need to both survive the current time and plan for a quick ramp-up after the office reopens.
You should start contemplating how you can adjust your budget to ride this out. Many small-and-medium practices have finances that are closely tied to the owner’s personal finances. As painful as it may be, you may also have to trim back on personal expenditures.
Here is a checklist of financial best practices during the crisis to ensure you are on track for a speedy recovery.
Staffing Costs: Layoff, furlough or adjust your employees’ working hours to reduce staffing costs as this is typically your biggest practice expense. For example, change working hours to include only emergency appointments and critical back-end operations. You also could reduce lunch hours to 30 minutes and stagger staff start and end times.
You also have the option of contracting for necessary labor if you don’t want to keep a regular staff during this time.
You may need to suspend your staff bonus program for the first 4-6 months after reopening to give yourself time to get on your feet financially.
Other Pieces to Explore
Reduce Operating Expenses
Eliminate these practice expenses:
a. Frame purchases
b. Optical accessory orders
c. Non-critical practice/clinic/office supplies
d. I highly recommend using Yourlens.com for all patient soft contact-lens orders. This would enable you to reduce contact-lens costs while making it possible for you to receive a monthly revenue check for lenses purchases directly by the patient online.
e. Postage/shipping except for eyewear or contact-lens shipping to patients
j. Facility janitorial cut back from daily to having staff clean the office
k. No training or travel
l. Temporarily cut charitable contributions
m. Use only essential IT services, such as those necessary to keep your practice web site up and running
n. Contact current vendors or service providers to ask for an extension on payments until returning to normal business operations
4. Vendor rebates: Reach out to your vendors to ensure you’ll be getting your vendor rebates
Reduce Marketing Costs
Defer marketing costs that can be restarted after returning to normal business hours. Consider focusing on no- or low-cost social media promotions during this time, along with e-blast communications to your patients. You could even launch a practice blog as a way to keep in touch with your patients. You could use it as a way to share your experience during the pandemic, with eyecare health and hygiene tips offered along the way.
Get Help from the Experts
Consult with your accountant and practice consultant to learn how both your personal and practice budgets should be adjusted to maneuver the ongoing disruption to your business.
Steve Sunder is a health-care consultant with over 20 years of experience in the eyecare industry at a multi-location practice, and as a consultant to other practices. To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org