Posts

5 Essential Business Planning Tips That Can Help Optometrists Survive a Recession.

Various small businesses could be severely hit by a recession. Proper planning is the key to long-term business success. And it becomes all the more important in the face of uncertain circumstances such as the ones we are facing currently.

Here are five essential business planning tips that every optometrist must follow if they wish to power through a recession and ensure sustained growth in the coming year.

1. Think Strategically

There are several strategic approaches that optometrists can benefit from. Strategic thinking is what helps you succeed in a competitive market. Businesses that don’t have a strategic plan in place are bound to have a hard time in fulfilling their short term as well as long term goals.

Take time to think about your business’s vision and mission. What is your unique selling proposition? How do your products and services differ from those of your competitors? Do you do any specialty care?

Focus on aspects that will prompt customers to choose your services over the alternative options.

2. Don’t Skip Marketing

Your revenues may be down these days, but that’s no reason to skip marketing. Marketing plays a key role in keeping your business in the public eye. You can cut down on the marketing budget if you want. But don’t forgo it altogether.

Identify the channels that can bring in the maximum customers and run your marketing campaigns on those platforms only. Staying active on social media is a great way to connect with your audience, so don’t forget to leverage that.

3. Form Alliances

One of the most strategic business planning tips in today’s economy is to form alliances. Collaborating with other optometry businesses operating both locally and other medical professionals can help you gain access to new streams of income. It can enable you to identify and exploit opportunities that still exist in an otherwise halted economy.

4. Sort Out Your Finances

Finances are the core element that determine the viability of your business plan. Make sure that you always have sufficient capital at hand for debt servicing, asset acquisition, business expansion, and the likes.

In addition to the current expenses, think about other costs you may incur down the lane.

5. Structure Your Workforce

You need to think about the future implications on your business in regards to your staff.

Will those employees be willing to rejoin when your business gains momentum again if you cut their hours? Do you want them to rejoin or wish to hire new workers instead? What are the skills you will need to keep your business running in a changing economy?

If you plan to hire new employees, make sure you have capital available for any training that may be required.

End Note

No one plans to fail; they fail to plan. So, follow these business planning tips to help your optometry business not just survive, but thrive regardless of how the economy may be performing.

Attracting Quality Talent in Optometry with Greater Transparency

Attracting quality talent entails optimizing your optometry practice in several ways. A focus on transparency and staff well-being will enable you to improve the profitability of your business in the long run.

Employees are more attracted towards practices that have a clear mission and adhere to their values. Here are 3 aspects that are of the utmost importance in hiring and retaining better talent.

1.      Develop good work culture

Work culture is an important part of an employee’s experience. Optometry practices usually focus on providing quality eye care, but their values and culture are hardly ever communicated.

Potential employees often research about a business before applying, making it a good idea to let them know what your practice values the most. For example, if teamwork is a key aspect for your practice, make that clear while you are hiring.

You can easily showcase the work culture of your optometry business on social media or within a job description. Doing so will help you attract employees who are more in line with your work objectives.

An important factor in attracting quality talent is building trust. It helps develop an open and transparent company culture to hire suitable people and retain suitable employees. Make sure you improve communication within your organization so that employees can easily connect with each other to share valuable information.

Prevent toxicity by openly discussing current challenges with employees and coming up with solutions as a team. Moreover, keep employees motivated by sharing and recognizing their achievements.

2.      Offer thorough training

No matter how experienced your employees are, it is crucial to provide them with training relevant to your optometry practice. Optometry is a specialized field where employees should have sufficient knowledge about different equipment and vision-related issues.

When your hire employees, make sure you offer on-the-job training to get them acclimatized to their new work environment. Provide systematic training for each job role in your organization. Untrained staff is likely to soon feel disinterested and demotivated.

You on-boarding program should ideally begin with an introduction of your practice’s basic mission, followed by specific training for staff members. You can introduce job shadowing and role-play exercises to get new recruits familiar with the ins and outs of your practice.  Also fine tune their people skills, so that they are able to deal with patients more effectively.

3.      Compensate suitably

Remuneration is one of the prime motivating factors for employees. Allocate a budget for staff compensation to help manage finances more effectively.

Recruiting and retaining quality employees requires providing employees with a satisfactory package. Compensation generally includes salaries, bonuses, commissions, and other benefits. Experienced workers and practitioners are aware of their value in the market and seek a salary that is worth their services.

Make sure you offer a suitable amount to potential employees in order to hire the best candidates for your optometry practice. Recruiting efficiently will lower hiring costs and spare time and money for other important tasks.

Attract quality talent towards your business by ensuring employee satisfaction. With a good work culture, proper training, and worthwhile compensation, you are sure to draw in and retain competent employees.

Ways to Grow your Optometry Business with Uninsured Patients.

This optometry blueprint is designed to increase your customer base by attracting uninsured patients to your door. It also results in a stable, recurring profit growth that you can rely on even more than insurance payments. The optometry strategy is important for any clinic to grow and build a base of loyal patients.

Ways to Grow your Optometry Business with uninsured patients.

There are four common ways that optometry owners can grow.

1. Marketing Material throughout the Clinic

Every room in the clinic should have marketing material so that all patients know about the the different programs your office offers. They should be curious about the material so that the office staff can talk about the details about the program with them.

2. Staff Should Be On the Same Page

All the staff members should have clear knowledge about the program so that they can speak clearly to patients. By working as a team, you will remove the burden from your office manager and increase the likelihood of the patient to understand the program.

3. Talk With Insured Patients As Well

Speaking about the program with insured patients is also important. An optometrist clinic cannot just rely on insurance payments, which are often late. The patients may like the additional benefits they are getting from your program. Explain what their insurance covers and what your program can provide for them and the value.

4. Find Uninsured Patients

Your database should keep track of all uninsured patients that walk through the doors. By presenting the program to them through letters, emails, or calls, you can get more patients to sign up. Activate patients you have not seen in years. With the pandemic many are in between insurances.

Attracting Uninsured Patients

If you want the program to succeed, you will need to attract more uninsured patients towards the practice. There are many marketing tools that can come in handy in such cases.

Direct Mail

Direct mail can help you create awareness about the program. You can target certain communities and areas at once time. The post office has a service to be able to direct mail your target audience. Many times self employed people might have high deductible insurances and can be treated as self pay.

Online Advertising

Social media and other online advertising platforms are a great option for reaching many specific target audiences. You can segment possible audiences and send out targeted ads to educate them about your optometry program. Having patients understand what your office can offer compared to using insurance and paying more.

Community.

Connecting with retirees can be a great way to form an image of an optometrist that works for the community. Many times their insurance does not cover routine care. Your program might be a way to attract them.

Working with local HR departments to have wellness eye exams as part of your services in addition to their medical insurance is a great way to attract uninsurance patients. Develop a contract that is attractive to that company to provide care for their employees. These patients will tend to pay more than vision care plan patients and be more loyal to your practice.

Conclusion

The optometry program can be a wonderful way to offer benefits to uninsured patients. It can also help the clinic build better connections, a loyal patient base, and recurring, stable income. It can also be a great way to keep patients from looking for other options as they know what you have to offer instead of at the moment decision on which eye care professional to choose.

Is Private Equity another form of Corporate Optometry?

Is Private Equity another form of Corporate Optometry?

Private Equity has become very popular in our industry. Many older ODs find it have found great benefits with private equity as an exit strategy. Many ODs can sell their practices and not worry about the administrative tasks and still be able to practice the way they want and focus on what they love the most and that is patient care. There are many similarities and differences among practicing optometry in a private equity firm and corporate optometry. Ophthalmology went through it before and maybe the same can be said about labs being bought out over the years. PE is a tough conversation. Some might differ on this comparison, here is what some ODs think about this question.

There are the pros and cons of private equity in optometry

Some Private Equity are investing in new technology in their practices, from EHR to diagnostic equipment. They are building a practice to help with increased costs with low reimbursements. The new investment in technology allows ODs to practice the highest scope allowed. It can be a good employment opportunity for many young ODs that are tied down because of high debt and can still have that private practice feeling with higher than average salaries.

With the pros come the cons. Some of the negatives that ODs expressed were that there would not be any practices for the next generation of ODs to purchase and move the position forward. Some concerns were that these private equity firms would purchase these large practices hold them for a short period of time and sell them to a larger entity in the industry. ODs were concerned that optometry was being lead the way that pharmacy was taken. Being employed might be something that young ODs would like at the beginning of their career, but after a few year many desire to have their own business.

We asked the industry what they thought about if private equity was good for the future of optometry.

Dr Joshua Woodland from Dyerville, Iowa

“History doesn’t repeat, My point isn’t about current status of VCPs but, it’s about allowing something to take hold that allows for short sighted gains but is bad for the profession in the long term.”

Think about how other factors have affect our industry over the years. Use that information to help guide you on new trends and disruptive technology for the future of optometry.

Survey taken in the corporate optometry FB group, many of the members feel that private equity is another form of Corporate Optometry.

From this survey many ODs feel that private equity is another form of Corporate Optometry

It is not Corporate Optometry

Not all corporate opticals are the same, why would private equity firms be the same? There are different models and strategies. Leadership styles can vary in the direction they want to take that company. It is hard to make direct comparisons.

Stan Peacock- Walmart sublease holder in Marianna Florida.

“Not really, it depends on ones definition of what corporate optometry is. And also now there are different types of PE. So different definitions of PE also, especially how the OD is treated-in different PE settings.”

Private Equity is an alternative form of Corporate Optometry.

There can be a blur in being able to differ ante between the two in optometry. When the owner is not an OD sometimes it can be classified as form of corporate optometry. Usually in private equity ODs are employed by the firm. Private equity firms make the decisions on OD schedules, hiring, products for the optical, equipment and other decisions that ODs are not involved with.

John Wiener Costco leasehold in Cincinnati, Ohio

“It is meta corporate optometry. Equity is buying up everything. OMDs included. If you are working under a private equity firm, you are clearly not private. Your livelihood is at the mercy of market forces and corporate decisions that might be far removed from optometry.”

Only time will tell on what specific companies will do and what their strategy is. What is your opinion? Join the conversation on Facebook Corporate Optometry group!

Difference between S Corp and LLC for your Optometry Practice

Difference between S Corp and LLC for your Optometry Practice

You have worked for years in corporate optometry and now believe that you know everything there is to know about the field. You have all your funds and skills together, you have consulted all the business mentors, watched hundreds of documentaries on successful entrepreneurs, and are completely ready to carve out your own path.

But there is one itching question that you have not been able to solve yet. Should you open your optometry practice as an LLC or S corporation?

The business structure that you choose for your business will have a long-term impact on a lot of crucial aspects of your business. This includes the rules and regulations surrounding liabilities and the rate at which your business is levied with taxes.

First, let us have a look what each of them means:

LLC stands for Limited Liability Company, which is a business structure where the associates of a company will not be held liable to pay off the company’s liabilities. This means the personal assets of the owner(s) of the company will not be sold off to pay the company’s debts when it files for bankruptcy.

S Corporation is the kind of corporate structure in which the business is able to evade the double taxation by not having to pay corporate income tax on the profits that it makes. It usually pays income in the form of dividends which leads it to avoid corporation and personal tax. This structure also helps the owners protect their assets from any type of corporate-based liability.

The LLC is better for those owners whose main priority is flexibility in business management. The owner of such a company wants to keep paperwork at pay, does not feel the need to gain extra investments and thus does not feel the need to put up the company in the stock markets. This sort of structure is well suited for a smaller scale business. S Corporation, on the other hand, is better suited for companies with a much more complicated organizational structure such as multinationals.

The LLCs are very flexible when it comes to who should be in the top management and who reports to whom. They can be changed according to the CEO or the shareholders themselves. However, with S Corporation everything is laid out in black and white and the people who are part of that corporation are not allowed to switch up the rules to their liking.

As mentioned before, one of the biggest advantages of having an LLC is less paperwork which makes it is significantly easier for the owners to set it up. However, the S Corporation requires the owner to fill out a great deal of paperwork, which may seem tedious at first but it will work well to provide as concrete proof during unfortunate times. This is especially important since with S Corporation we are talking about large sums of money that would be related to liabilities and taxation.

A Different Approach on How to Compete with Online Retailers

E-commerce business has grown tremendously over the years and will continue to innovate and revolutionize how our patients seek knowledge, choose providers and purchase health care products. Emotional branding could be a different approach on how optometrists can compete with online retailers. It can be a way to provide the best customer service as consumer trends change and seek more of an experience than price orientated as focused on by the baby boomer generation.

Understanding what might trigger a patient emotionally to buy products or seek services from your office can be a way to combat online retailers and create loyalty and retention.   Tapping into the emotions of your patients from the first interaction to promote your service or products is called Emotional Branding.   Your brand image is very powerful. It triggers your patients to engage with you. Once you have them engaging with you, emotional branding builds those lasting relationships that creates patient retention, loyalty and trust.

 

Call to Action Plan on Emotional Branding.

 

  1. Storytelling– The patient brand experience depends on it.  The way you create emotional engagement is critical to getting the results that you want whether it is making a sale, creating patient retention or building a reputation. Create a story of you! Let your patients or potential patients know who you are. A Parent, animal lover or sports fan whatever it is promote it in the office, via eblasts or social media to create a personalized approach to your brand strategy. Engage your patients and learn what has attracted them to you. Understand the lifestyle of your patients and promote products or services that your patients will benefit from. You want to know what triggers them to choose your office. Promoting yourself through storytelling is a powerful way to get patients talking about your office and referring others. Storytelling creates a  brand story that educates patients, inspires them or makes them feel something. Those feelings create lastly impressions that keep people coming back and not going to your competitor. Let your patients know about your volunteer work as an optometrist, your struggles and accomplishments, provide a “human effect” that online retailers can’t compete with. Your goal is to make them feel or experience something during the interaction.
  2. Emotional Drivers– Once you have successfully promoted your brand through storytelling and understand what your patients want. You can determine which emotional drivers influence your patients.  Some emotional drivers in your optometry office include being healthy, improving appearance and self confidence. Knowledgeable ODs can use these drivers to cultivate personalized approach to the treatment plan, recommendation of products and ultimately a defensive strategy to online retailers.
  3. Consistency – People don’t like change if they are comfortable and happy with your services. They are used to a certain experience and value. Develop a brand specific strategy that is inviting to your patients. Whether it be that your services are provided on a timely manner or a friendly environment for families, being consistent will differentiate your office from online retailers. The value and emotional experience that your patients feel outweighs e-commerce pricing. When returning patients ask about your vacation or children you have successfully accomplished the art of emotional branding.

 

Email Messages and HIPAA Electronic mail messages

Email Messages and HIPAA Electronic mail messages (”email”) is an economical and timely manner for doctors and patients to communicate with each other and is discussed in the Code of Federal Regulations, 45 CFR 164 522 (b). The prevailing principle is that covered entities (doctors) are not restricted from using email to leave messages for appointments or dispensing of product, but that the content of the message must be “the minimal necessary amount”. However, if the patient specifically restricts email or phone messages, the doctor cannot still use those channels to communicate with the patient. The next question is whether all email from a doctor needs to be secure. In most cases, if the patient authorizes the doctor, the doctor can use email to send a message to a patient. It is not required that all correspondence between a doctor and patient be secure, but ensuring that the doctor might unintentionally release protected health information (PHI), the doctor should consider using only secure email. A popular program, Google Mail (also known as “GMail”) is not HIPAA compliant because it relies solely on Secure Socket Layer (SSL) as the form of encryption. This makes the transport secure but not the content. HIPAA requires the content to also be secure which what encryption of the content will do. There are a number of encrypted email providers that meet the HIPAA requirements and can be found through a query on the Internet. An example of minimum necessary information through an insecure email or unencrypted email content is “Ms. Smith, please call (123) 456-7890 Dr. ABC” . The doctor should avoid saying what the call is for or by identifying the specialty of the doctor. Even if the patient explicitly authorizes the doctor for normal email messaging, the doctor should still observe the minimal necessary PHI. This also includes telephone or text messages. In summary, the doctor should use secure email providers to send messages with the minimum necessary information.
Tips4EyeDocs, Richard Hom OD Dr. Hom is a noted security and computer blogger.

Business metrics in Corporate Optometry

There are a lot of questions on business metrics in corporate optometry. What is a good net percentage compared to gross revenue and how many patients should you be seeing a day. How many days a week should you be working? It really depends on the brand that you are working with. Some ODs will work 3 days a week and see 30 patients a week others will work 5 days and see the same number of patient. It is negotiable. For the number of days you work you should be seeing 8-12 a day, if you are seeing less you should not be there more than 3 days a week and your rent should reflect that volume and number of managed care exams.

Net profit can range from 50%-80% of gross revenue.  Some fixed expenses that can change the net for each corporate optometry setting are  rent,EHR, accounting, payroll, business phone, office supplies, lease on equipment and optometry malpractice and licensing.

Your goal is to at least gross 1k per day of work that is 10-12 patients a day. It can vary on based on patient demographics and managed care plans.  Medical service fees are typically higher than routine eye exam. Check your explanation of benefits (EOBs) to determine your fees for those procedures.

Evaluate your  average Transaction Per Patient
Average transaction = Total visit fees collected/number of patients

It can be broken down even further to determine chair cost or revenue per hour. Being able to see more patients per hour efficiently can mean more income per hour and being able to do administrative duties during non peak times or moonlighting to increase income.
You should understand medical and non-medical visits. Medical exams typically are a shorter visit that can be done by a technician then evaluated by you.The average transaction for a medical exam can range from $100 to $200  The average transaction for a routine eye exam can range from $55 to $75.

Understanding these metrics in corporate optometry will help you be successful in the business. Read more at https://corporateoptometry.com/product/business-metrics/