Practice Management

What the Rebranding of a Michelin-Star Restaurant Taught Me About What I Needed to Do In My Practice

Dr. Whipple’s optical. He says the concept of a minimalist style in his office was at least partly inspired by lessons learned watching the revamping of the New York City restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, on the show “7 Days Out.”

By Ian G. Whipple, OD

April 13 2022

Streaming TV shows is a great way to unwind, and sometimes you can learn something that can help your practice. “7 Days Out,” a Netflix Original series about business owners who are evolving/renovating their physical locations, recently offered me guidance I can use in my practice.

Episode 2 of this series follows the final week of the rebranding efforts of Eleven Madison Park, a Michelin Star-awarded restaurant in New York City. Eleven Madison Park had just been named one of the best restaurants in the world, and its owners used this honor as an opportunity to renew their restaurant.

Their renovations involved a complete closure, gold-foiled ceilings, new furniture, a repurposed kitchen, new hires and a new, more innovative menu. The show documents the expected drama of the final seven days of preparations and hints at the success that will surely follow. While some of the details in this show are specific to the restaurant industry, I find it highly relatable to the challenges we face as optometrists and practice owners. Here are few lessons I learned from this episode of “7 Days Out.”

Continue to Evolve, Don’t Rest on Your Laurels
Even after receiving international accolades, the owners of Eleven Madison Park decided to pursue an evolution of their restaurant. The fame (and presumed “fortune”) of their success afforded them the opportunity to improve. Optometrists can learn from this example. Whether it’s a 5-star review, a recognition as a best-in-the-area business, or a public acknowledgement from the Chamber of Commerce, business owners can create opportunity from recognition.

We can use the excitement and momentum from these events to level-up. My practice, Vision Source of Farr West , was humbled to be named a CooperVision Best Practice in 2019. Our staff felt recognized in their achievement. Some of our patients shared that they felt pride that they were a part of our practice. Rather than make this achievement the pinnacle of our office history, we tried to be deliberate in using it as a springboard for future opportunities.

One way we did this was by writing and submitting a press release showcasing the achievement. A press release copywriter can easily be hired online. Fiverr.com offers professionally written press releases starting at $15. For minimal investment, the press release can spotlight important events in the practice such as new partnerships, rebrandings, product releases and new hires. Hopefully, a local newspaper or other local media (city magazine, local TV station, etc.) will pick up the story.

Make sure your staff knows of the recognition your practice receives in the media. We frequently share positive online reviews with our staff. We all love 5-star reviews and can recognize where we have done well. I thank our staff for their contributions and encourage them to keep on doing it! When we see what is going well we can continue to do it, and that pattern leads to ever-greater improvements.

A Leaner Office Can Improve the Patient Experience & Profitability
The original Eleven Madison Park seated 400 customers. After the renovations it only accommodates 80. Prices have increased to compensate for the 80 percent decrease in capacity, but the customer experience has also improved as a result.

Obvious parallels exist in optometry. Optometry practices can become leaner by educating patients, dropping less profitable insurance plans and maximizing buying groups. Offices have the ability to take more time to educate patients when fewer patients are seen. This extra time in our practice increased per-patient revenue, and we discovered that we are just as profitable with less stress.

We found that we were losing money on each Medicaid exam. About seven years ago, we made the decision to drop Medicaid. Our profitability and patient experience immediately improved.

Our office relies on the suggestions and programs from our alliance, which provides advice on business best practices and vets potential vendors. Rather than reinvent the wheel, and discover best practices on our own, I would encourage business owners to lean into and take full advantage of  buying group/alliance programs. In these three ways our offices become leaner and patient experiences improve.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball–Stay True to Your Vision
The owners of Eleven Madison Park had a specific and deliberate vision of what they wanted their rebranding efforts to create. They stuck to their vision even when challenges arose, and it was their clarity of the desired end-result that helped them stay calm when deadlines were missed. Optometrists can learn from this example the importance of keeping their eye on the ball and pushing forward through the difficult moments on the march toward their goals.

At least once a year, I set out alone for a hike, run or cross-country ski activity with two specific goals: to reach the top of the mountain (or end of the trail) and to meditate and visualize the next period of my practice and exit plan of my career. I remove my headphones and spend a couple hours alone with nature with these goals in mind. This is more than a daydreaming exercise for me. I find that when I have a clear vision, and I can see what I want the practice to look like, I can then use my vision to work backwards to identify specific paths that will lead me there.

Six years ago, I found that my practice had grown to a point where I could no longer see patients 40 hours per week and perform the necessary administrative duties on my own. My practice was deviating from my vision. After my solitary hike it was apparent that I needed a course correction to maintain my ideal work-life balance. As a result, I hired an associate doctor, outsourced payroll and hired The Power Practice consultancy to help me stay on track to achieve my vision.

Bottom Line: You Can Always Do Better
I love looking outside of eyecare for inspiration. It was particularly enjoyable to find so much insight into my practice from watching a quick, one-hour show. Practice owners can use accolades to evolve, become deliberately leaner to improve the customer experience and use their vision to guide them to their specific goals.

Three specific takeaways from 7 Days Out are: businesses need to continually evolve to stay relevant, that leaner businesses can create amazing patient experiences and increased profitability, and that business owners who stick to their high-level game plan will be more likely to achieve their desired results.

Ian G. Whipple, OD, is the owner of Vision Source of Farr West in Farr West, Utah. To contact him: iwhipple@gmail.com 

 

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