the business of contact lenses
Where are the Practice Building Ideas? Everywhere
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Recent months have seen a flurry of new contact lenses. New torics, multifocals and daily disposable lenses have challenged your already jammed lens storage room. But what about new practice building ideas to help you fit those lenses and subsequently build your practice? Where are they? The answer is they're more abundant than new products and are all around you all the time.
On your way to your office, did you put gas in your car and use your credit card to pay at the pump? Might ‘pay at the pump,’ or some variation, work at your practice? The point is to look for practice building ideas in everyday life experiences, not only those that happen in a contact lens practice.
Using the gas station example, make note to not be stymied by technology limitations when looking for new ideas. While we might not have easy access to the credit card reader technology that gas stations use, if we step back we'll see that this technology is a tool that reduces labor costs by passing some of the transactional work to the customer. Is that something we could do in our practices?
Things that make your life easier can be great sources of practice building ideas. The accessory outlet in your car that allows you to plug in your MP3 player or the dated "keys" that hotels use — just about anything you or your staff can think of are good places to dig for new ideas. Look at the big picture: the MP3 outlet allows a driver a more customized audio experience, and card-keys are a low cost security feature that allow a branding opportunity.
Touchscreen thermostats, stackable water bottles — the list is literally endless and all great content for a good brainstorming session.
Try this exercise during your next staff meeting to uncover the next big practice building idea. Start by having each staff member recount one idea that does not come from our industry. It could be a product or service; anything counts. The self-service checkout line at the grocery store or the way AA batteries are packaged. Anything counts! No staff member is permitted to belittle anyone else's ideas.
Relate the Ideas to Practice
Once the ideas have been put forth and recorded, start with the one that appears to have the least relevancy to your practice. Then, set a time limit of perhaps two minutes and relate the idea to some facet in your practice. It's critically important that these discussions be fast, fun and entirely non-judgmental. If you can't relate the benefits of a curved ergonomic computer keyboard to a way to help your patients in less than two minutes, move on to the next idea. If you get close or go off on tangents, that's fine! Keep going. It's a good idea to record these sessions because often in the heat of discussion a gem might escape you.
In some cases, it helps to state the practice building goal before starting the session. For example, your practice might be working on an initiative to go green. So, when a staff member relates an experience at the dry cleaner where her pants were folded in a bag instead of put on a hanger, your challenge becomes attempting to relate that to your going-green initiative.
As is usually the case with these sorts of exercises, be prepared for many dead ends. That's fine and common. When this happens, don't stop holding these exercises! Eventually you'll find something that works for your practice. Because it was generated by a team effort, it will also have a high likelihood of being consistently implemented. 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 DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.