Profits When Business is Good
GARY GERBER, OD
My monthly column often focuses on ways to boost
profits, to increase the number of patients who say "Yes" when offered contact lenses
and to enhance staff involvement in building your
lens practice. This month, I'll assume you've done all this and write to you as
though your practice is as profitable and efficient as it's ever been.
When our clients' practices are flush with cash, their owners'
natural instincts are to take the extra revenue as personal income. I don't necessarily
disagree with that and believe you should reward yourself for building your contact
lens practice. However, if your long-term goal is to continually build your practice,
then taking money out of it isn't always the best strategy especially when
things are going well and especially if you're taking all of the profit for yourself.
Our experience shows that re-investing in your business when times
are good is a great practice-building strategy. Resist the urge to cut back when
you're on a roll and instead pump excess funds back into your practice.
The perfect time to spend instead of save is when things are going
well. That's when you should take a hard look at that topographer you've been eyeing,
add contact lens e-commerce capability to your Web site or expand your inventory.
Another strategy is to build up a war chest so you can ultimately do all of those
Benefits of Saving Your Acorns
Most of our practices go through business cycles. For example,
the dead of winter and summer can be slower than the spring and start of summer.
A way to even out business and reduce the sine waves in your bank
account is to allocate your war chest funds for marketing efforts just before an
anticipated slow down. For example, if you historically find December to be a slow
month, then in mid-October you should plan and budget for a contact lens marketing
campaign for the end of November. Perhaps at this time of year, where many climates
experience drier winter air, talking about the increased comfort and decreased drying
of newer silicone hydrogel lenses might be a good idea.
Make Busy Months Busier
If you continually allocate a portion of profits to re-invest
in your practice, you can make your best months even better. If August is usually
the month where you fit the most lenses, don't hold back for fear of being too busy.
Instead, invest in excess inventory in mid-July and send a "Back to College" mailing
to ensure students return for professional care and more lenses before heading back
to school. Planning in such a way should also include staff schedules. If you carefully
track trends, you can allocate staffing hours more appropriately. If August is usually
when you get slammed with contact lens patients, do your best to make sure you have
adequate staff on hand.
Reap the Vibes of Success
When business is slow, most practitioners start to think,"I better
start marketing my practice. I haven't seen a new contact lens patient in weeks."
The marketing product that is put out is often price focused as a reflection of
the practitioner's current sense of financial desperation. Marketing when things
are going well typically sends out a different message. Because the practitioner
is coming from a psychological position of strength and abundance, his marketing
messages usually exude more confidence and, in the end, work better.
Practices need constant care and feeding. Not only when times
are tough, but when things are going well. CLS
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: December 2005