contact lens economics
Another Inside Look at Secrets of Successful Practices
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Last month, we discussed how "monster" contact lens practices become that way because the doctor and every employee live and breathe contact lenses. This month, I'll give more specifics about this important concept.
Such successful practices have developed a contact lens culture that makes perfect sense and is immediately obvious to their patients. This culture is "front of mind" at all times. Contact lenses aren't an afterthought presented to an eyeglass patient as, "Would you like to try contact lenses?" Rather, they're presented as, "We know you're here for contact lenses, so let's talk about what's best for you."
We encourage our clients to hold early morning team huddles each day. They can use these huddles to not only keep communication open about any special needs patients who are on tap for the day, but to continually reinforce the mission and goals of the practice. In this case, they reinforce that the practice is "the place" for patients to get contact lenses.
The intent of this meeting is to instill in everyone, by using a few carefully chosen words and comments, that "Today, like yesterday, we will continue to be the premier contact lens practice!"
Invite prospective new employees who have made it through the preliminary interview steps to sit in on these morning meetings so they can assess their personal comfort zone with joining a practice that's this focused on providing contact lens excellence. New employees should know before committing to a job that they're not joining an ordinary optometry practice, but one of an elite few.
Remind current employees of this fact from time to time. It's helpful to mystery shop other practices in noncompetitive regions of the country so your staff can get a sense of where your practice stands. Go beyond asking the basic and obvious pricing questions and instead query, "Why should I get contact lenses from you?"
Transcribe and discuss answers and, equally important, staff members should notice how these other practices answered these questions. Was the receptionist uncomfortable with the question or happy that you asked and proud to answer? At this point, your staff should feel comfortable enough that if a patient asked them that question, they wouldn't feel as though they were bragging, but just delivering facts.
Role play these types of scenarios during office meetings. (Not just to instill confidence for phone skills, but again to reinforce the total culture as the best place on earth to get contact lenses.) Video taping these sessions is also helpful. One of our more creative clients archived the tapes so he could track his team's progress. Not only was it a fun exercise, but it was also meaningful and productive. The practice saw it's "contact lens gestalt" develop before their very eyes!
Does the staff person who handles your insurance know that you fit bifocal contact lenses? Does your lab optician know that you do ortho-k? Do your utmost to educate and de-compartmentalize knowledge outposts throughout your office. No, your receptionist doesn't need to know the differences in Dk/t between various brands of lenses, but she should know that the concept exists and that it's important. If you don't already have all of your staff read contact lens-related journals, then start with this issue.
Live it, breathe it, do it! ("It" is your commitment and dedication to becoming the absolute best contact lens practice the world has ever seen.)
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists.
You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: February 2005