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Six Ways to Ruin Your Optometric Practice

By Ken Krivacic, OD, MBA

September 16, 2015

SYNOPSIS

There are many ways to make your practice succeed—or fail. Here are six “strategies” you should steer clear of to avoid costly pitfalls in managing your practice.

ACTION POINTS

EDUCATE PATIENTS. In pre-testing, and in the exam room, patients should have tests, examinations and prescriptions fully explained.

MODERNIZE INSTRUMENTATION. Send the signal your practice is on the cutting edge, and can deliver the latest innovations in care.

MAINTAIN OFFICE SPACE. Refurbish and spiff up office space to show patients you care about providing a comfortable and visually appealing place.

UPDATE WEB SITE. Have a professional firm create an easy-to-find and easy-to-use web site that makes it easy to browse products and make appointments.

THANK PATIENTS. Say thank you to patients, and send thank you notes to first-time patients, welcoming them to the practice.

HIRE WELL & RECOGNIZE. Take the time to hire the best people for your staff, and once on staff, recognize their achievements verbally and with merit pay increases.

Usually, an article on how to improve your optometric practicerevolves around things you should do or change. Here is how to ruin your practice by doing the things you shouldn’t.

According to Jeannie Walters, founder of 360connext, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience, 89 percent of consumers will shop with a competitor after just one bad customer experience. So, what are some of the ways to ruin an optometric practice?

Dr. Krivacic’s office. Dr. Krivacic says having a well maintained, up-to-date office is one of the keys to retaining patients, and drawing in new ones.

1) Don’t Explain to Patients What You Are Doing
This applies to both the doctors and staff. On the clinical side of the practice, the staff should perform all tests and not explain what they are doing and why. For example, a staff member should not say: “This test is a visual field screening test, it will help us determine if you have a loss of vision that could be the result of early disease progressions, such as glaucoma or diabetes.”

On the doctor side, you should explain as little as you can to the patient. Remember that communication is the key. If you want to ruin your practice, never explain your findings or recommend what you would prescribe or do.

2) Don’t Use Modern Equipment
Keep equipment as long as possible. If you want to ruin your practice, a retinoscope is much more impressive than a new autorefractor. The best way to encourage your patients to seek another doctor is to never invest in new technologies in the practice. Keep hand-written charts instead of a sleek new EHR system. Continue to use a PD stick instead of a digital measuring device.

3) Don’t Remodel Your Practice
Along the same line as not upgrading equipment and technologies is to not upgrade the physical and decorative portion of the practice. If you want to ruin the practice, then never repaint, install new carpet or modernize fixtures. Make sure all these things stay the same year after year, even if styles change. Nothing shows a patient that you don’t care more than having the same shag carpet from 1974.

4) Don’t Have an Up-To-Date Web Site
Another great way to ruin a practice is to not have an updated and easy-to-find and use web site. The ideal situation to ruin a practice is to not have a web site at all, but if you insist on looking like you care, but really don’t, then have a web site that hasn’t been updated and can’t be found in the first six Google pages when patients search for you. This usually involves creating your own web site and hosting it yourself, rather than using a professional who would make it look better, keep it updated and make sure to take full advantage of search engine optimization.

5) Don’t Thank Patients
For a simple, easy and inexpensive way to ruin your practice, never tell your patients “Thank you,” or show any form of appreciation. Remember, they are there for you, and not vice versa. Most people value a business or practice that truly values them – don’t fall into this trap if you want to ruin yours.

6) Don’t Care Who You Hire and Don’t Appreciate or Train Them
Often, the first impression patients have about your practice is delivered by your staff. So, if you want to ruin your practice, then hire for skill and not personality. Remember, an uncaring or disengaged personality is something that is hard to change, whereas a new skill can be taught. If you do make the mistake of hiring for personality, and get a really good employee, then you need to ruin things by never showing them any appreciation and assume they know what you want them to do without you having to tell them. After all, if they are employed by you, they should automatically know what you expect of them without having it in writing or told to them.

Finally, keep in mind that running down or ruining a practice takes effort. It usually won’t happen overnight. If you own your own private practice you can continue to be a great clinician, but remember to leave the leadership and visionary duties to someone else – just assume that someone else knows who you are, and what your practice brand is. Better yet, if no one steps up to the plate, and the practice continues its downward spiral, then you know that you have mastered the art of ruination.

Ken Krivacic, OD, is the owner of Las Colinas Vision Center in Irving, Texas. To contact him: kkrivacic@aol.com.

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