By Michele Quintero, OD
March 23, 2022
Ted Lasso, a comedy-drama series streaming on Apple TV, is not only entertaining to watch; it’s also highly informative and useful for practice owners. The show, focused on the misadventures of a small-time American football coach (Ted Lasso) who is recruited to coach a British soccer team, reminded me of what we all need to be doing much more of in our practices.
In fact, I found this show so relevant to practice management that I have too many lessons to share in one article, so I’ll provide a follow-up article with more Ted Lasso lessons. Here are my first four practice management takeaways from Ted Lasso, which I’ll refer to as “Lassoisms.” Four more will follow in my next article.
Lassoism #1: Embrace Change
“Most of the time change is a good thing and I think that’s what it’s all about – embracing change, being brave, doing whatever you have to so everyone in your life can move forward with theirs …” Ted Lasso
When you are running a practice, you have to be open to change. The field of optometry, and healthcare in general, is changing. As consumers become more tech-savvy, they expect the businesses they interact with to be more tech-savvy too.
Changing with the times includes giving patients the ability to text your office instead of calling, enabling them to pay via text, offering touch-less payment options (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc) and adding high-tech equipment to your office. Some optometrists are even exploring whether telemedicine might have a permanent place in their practices, beyond the pandemic.
Change can also come from developing a niche practice and offering specialty products and services that help patients while giving you a competitive advantage.
Lassoism #2: Sometimes You Have to Bench Your Star Player
In season one, the star of the team, Jamie Tartt, is not exemplifying the qualities of a team player. He refuses to pass the ball because he wants to always be the one to score the winning goal. He constantly bullies the other players. Ted decides to bench Jamie during an important game. Ted knew it was risky, but it allowed the other players to feel like Ted believed in them and allowed them to play as a unified team, which increased their morale and enabled them to win the game.
“Benching” your best employee, no matter how great they are, can be good for the team. It is wonderful having that team member whom you can count on to always go above and beyond for each patient while bringing in the highest sales, but sometimes the other employees can start relying too much on that one team member and expect him/her to do all the heavy lifting.
Occasionally taking that star team member out of the rotation forces the other employees to step up their game, and can highlight areas where further training might be needed. This exercise can also give an extra boost of confidence to new employees. It allows you to develop an entire team of star players, which will ultimately increase the success of the practice as a whole.
Lassoism #3: Believe in Your Team
Being a practice owner takes self-determination and grit, especially for cold-starts. There will be many naysayers and people who try to discourage you along the way. Believe in yourself and your team. It took you eight years of higher education and years of honing your skills to become the optometrist you are today.
Know your worth and charge for your knowledge, expertise and time. Don’t give away that knowledge or your services. Believe in the team you cultivated. Be sure you are offering the best level of care and service, and set your fees accordingly. Don’t undervalue yourself, your team or the profession.
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Lassoism #4: Be Open to New Ideas from Everyone
In episode three, the coaches’ assistant, Nate, has an idea for a new strategy. Ted listens to Nate’s idea and decides to try it. It turns out to be a successful tactic. If Ted had judged Nate as not having anything important to say because Nate was just a kit man and had no coaching experience, they would have missed out on learning a great new play.
This can apply to us in our practices. In my practice, we have weekly office meetings in which we sometimes like to brainstorm new marketing ideas. If you are brainstorming ideas to increase capture rate for optical sales, always be open to ideas from everyone. Your receptionist may have an excellent idea for increasing capture rate, but may be hesitant to share for fear of being judged for not having any optical experience.
Ensuring your practice is a place where all team members feel equally important and valued, and feel that your office is a safe place for sharing ideas, will help you get the best from each of your employees.