By Dawn Trybulski, OD
Oct. 20, 2021
Starting a new practice is always a difficult endeavor, but perhaps never more so than now. Just a year after launching my practice, the pandemic and shutdown of routine eyecare hit.
Fortunately, I had partnered with an industry resource, PECAA, and its Member Business Advisor (MBA) program, which is a free resource to members of the organization.
This resource has become a lifeline for my practice and the patients we have been able to continue successfully serving. Here is the difference PECAA’s MBA Program is making to keeping us a profitable and growing practice.
Tapping the Experts at Building a Strong, Unique Independent Practice
I partnered with PECAA when I opened in 2019 because its business partners were in line with the direction I wanted to take my business. I wanted frame lines that would be different from what everyone else has. The discounts PECAA offered were competitive, and the organization offered additional business assets that I thought would help scale my business into the future.
For example, PECAA offers training for new employees and continuing education programs for ODs. It also has a Cold Start Practice Program that waived the first year of membership fees and answered many of my most pressing practice management questions.
People You Can Count on in a Crisis
When the pandemic hit, I was a cold start that had only been open for five months. I managed for a while, but then realized that I needed business guidance from a professional. In May 2021 I reached out to PECAA’s MBA Advisors.
My MBA consultant, Bryan Hoban, has helped me better understand cash flow. He also helped me set up projections and benchmarks. This sounds straightforward, but to do this well you need an understanding of average industry benchmarks, and the kind of growth that is realistic to expect based on the performance of similar practices.
Bryan’s knowledge and guidance has been indispensable. This program is there to provide much-needed support when I find myself questioning what path to take. Often, there are multiple valid options in front of me, and the MBA guidance provides expertise, based on past experience that I do not have, to decide what the next best step should be.
Through the MBA program, I have met, and had evaluations, with a marketing specialist, billing and coding specialist and human resources specialist. I have chosen to do most of these programs through Zoom to stay safe during the pandemic. (MBA Advisors will routinely do in-person practice visits when able).
Help Setting Actionable Goals & Strategies for Profitability
I meet through Zoom with Bryan every other Wednesday for half an hour. We review my practice’s financial projections versus actual earnings. I ask him questions that have come up since our last meeting. Frequently, these questions result in Bryan making a connection between me and another PECAA Advisor, most recently in the area of practice management.
This often requires me to gather metrics. It’s worthwhile – once I do it and review it with my Advisor I have much more confidence repeating the process on my own.
Guide to Financing Growth Opportunities
When I needed capital to grow my practice, Bryan helped me find it, determine exactly the amount I needed, and then helped me implement cash flow management strategies to make the most of the money I received. He has continued to follow-up with me to ensure the money is optimized to spur profitability.
I am able to use Bryan as a sounding board for new ideas for practice growth and improvement. Some of these ideas I have already executed, and others I will execute when the time is right.
Learning How to Keep Practice Overhead Costs in Check
One of the most valuable services PECAA’s MBA Advisors provide is in keeping practice costs down. We started with an expensive marketing plan. MBA program advisors helped weed out what was not serving us. They provided ideas for growing our practice in our community, and showed us the best actions to take as we are able to spend more money on marketing.
In addition, we are in the process of having our accounts receivable reports analyzed by Billing & Coding Advisor Kayla Groves. I am excited to work with Kayla on ways to reduce our accounts receivable and streamline billing.
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Another area where the MBA consultants are a great help is in keeping vendor costs down. I enjoy looking to them when I need a new product and vendor. They do the vetting for me, and in most cases, are able to negotiate a better price than I would.
Personalized Consulting that Schools & Primes You to Create a Thriving Practice
I view the MBA program as a kind of therapy for the practice. I hope to graduate soon, so to speak, but I know PECAA’s people are always there when I need guidance through the next step.
When I joined PECAA, I thought the MBA program was a novel concept. Other groups offered programs, but they didn’t seem as personalized to the individual practice owner’s needs. That’s what I have appreciated the most about this program–the personal care and attention. PECAA’s MBA Advisors aren’t trying to sell me something – working with them is complimentary. They truly want me to succeed.
Dawn Trybulski, OD, is the owner of Gwynedd Valley Eye Care in Lower Gwynedd, Pa. To contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org