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Prepare your private practice for a successful 2024

News
Article
Optometry Times JournalDecember digital edition 2023
Volume 15
Issue 12

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s the perfect time for practice owners to reflect on the past year’s successes and challenges while gearing up for a fresh start in the new year. Here’s a to-do list that private practice physicians can do in the last 2 weeks of December for a prosperous year ahead.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock/ Seventyfour)

(Image credit: Adobe Stock/ Seventyfour)

Preparing and planning during the final weeks of the year

You now have 50 weeks of data about your practice that you can access via your practice management system. You have information, statistics, and trends that will help you forecast the success of your practice in 2024. You can use these final 2 weeks of 2023 to analyze these data, allowing you to forecast and allocate time, funds, and resources for what matters most to your practice. Eliminate irrelevant or unprofitable products, services, equipment, and memberships because you have the data to back up that decision. Before you can plan for the future, evaluating the past is essential. Analyze your optometric practice’s financial performance, patient needs, and any challenges faced in the past year. Identify what worked well, what didn’t, and what needs improvement. This assessment will serve as the foundation for your strategic planning. Here are 7 steps to start.


1. Frame stock assessment

One of the first tasks to tackle is a thorough frame inventory assessment. Analyze your eyewear and sun wear inventory and identify frame brands or collections that have been slow moving or stale, have too many manufacturing defect issues, or could be more profitable. Look at your practice management sales numbers. Do not ask your staff to tell you which frame collections do well off the top of their heads. We once asked all our stylist opticians about a frame brand that did poorly that year, and they unanimously replied that they loved that frame collection and didn’t want to part with it. When we ran our sales report, we saw they only sold 4 pieces that year. The staff later decided it wasn’t essential to carry that brand anymore. Ensure you look into your data and patient-buying trends before asking staff.

Develop strategies to clear out old frame inventory. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Reach out to the frame representative of that hard-to-sell frame collection to exchange the stale frame styles that didn’t sell that year for new, fresh, and updated frame styles. You could also exchange that frame collection for a different collection they offer that aligns more with your patient needs and demographics. If the frame company doesn’t provide this service, consider not partnering with that frame company in the future. Having old, stale frame styles taking up board space is not a good business practice.
  • Gather the stale frames and offer them at a discount, do a trunk show, host an end-of-year clearance sale, or bundle those frames in a package of 1-year supply of contact lenses with a backup pair of glasses.
  • If your current frame company doesn’t offer frame exchange, find frame companies that exchange your old, stale frames for their current frame styles. Usually, they offer a substantial discount or trade for your old frames for their frames. The representative will take those stale frames from you to free space for their frame collection on your boards. It’s a win-win. You get a new product to replace an old product, and the frame representative has the opportunity to prove whether their frame line is a good fit and is profitable for your practice.

Ask all your current frame representatives whether they offer the frame stock cleanup opportunity mentioned above. If you’re already doing business with them, they may give you an additional discount if you add another frame collection they offer based on volume.

This time is also excellent for reviewing all your frame company agreements for that year. One year, we discovered that a frame company had promised a substantial discount and yearly rebate only to find out that they still needed to apply what was promised at the end of the year. Verify that your frame exchanges, warranties, defects, frame credits, and promotions for that year are up-to-date and accurate. Make sure you receive the credits and promotions that the frame representative promised.

One year, we discovered that a frame company had too many defective products and needed to be more efficient with crediting their frame defects. The company would send the return label for the defective frame, bill us for a new frame, and never give us credit for the defective frame. Not only did we find more than 20 defective frames (totaling $2380) that year that were never credited to our account, but we also discovered that we wanted to avoid partnering with a frame company that had so many defective frames. Having stale, unprofitable frame inventory is not good for your optical business. Your capture rate will decline if the frame stock you offer is not appealing to your patients. Patients will walk out with their prescriptions to your competitor down the street. Refreshing your inventory as you enter the new year will allow your returning patients in 2024 to be impressed with your new, updated, and fashionable eyewear selection.

2. Go over your laboratory bill

Much like your frame inventory, it’s vital to review your laboratory agreement, lens and treatment prices, warranties, credits, and promotions to ensure everything is accurate. Call your representative and negotiate better prices or upgrades for 2024—it never hurts to ask—and look for ways that you can be more profitable in 2024.

3. Set SMART revenue goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. Establish clear and realistic objectives for the new year, encompassing sales growth, new patient acquisition, and marketing efforts. These goals will serve as a road map for your private practice success. Here are some examples of SMART goals.

To increase revenue:

  • Specific: to increase average revenue per examination
  • Measurable: by 15%
  • Achievable: by recommending multiple pairs based on the patient’s lifestyle and needs
  • Relevant: to maximize revenue from existing patients
  • Time bound: over the next fiscal year (2024)

To consider adding a growth opportunity such as dry eye treatment:

  • Specific: to launch a dry eye clinic
  • Measurable: targeting $20,000 in new revenue in the first quarter
  • Achievable: based on market research and demographics in the practice area
  • Relevant: to diversify revenue streams, create a practice niche, and attract new patients
  • Time bound: dry eye treatment launch (including staff training) within the next quarter (Q1)

Regularly review and adjust your SMART goals as needed to stay on track and adapt to changing market conditions. These examples guide your revenue sales goal-setting process.

4. Staff goals

Training and development

Invest in your staff by providing training and development opportunities. Ensure that your team is knowledgeable about the latest eyewear trends, technologies, and best practices for serving patients. Well-trained employees contribute to improved patient satisfaction and loyalty. Take these 2 weeks to schedule multiple trainings throughout the year to empower your staff in 2024.

Performance reviews or check-ins

Take a moment to review your staff’s performance and schedule a one-on-one performance review or check-in. If you don’t already do so, make sure your manager documents reprimands, mistakes, and costly errors. You can discover what your staff members need from you to receive adequate training. Reassuring them that you’re committed to providing them with the resources and tools they need to perform better will keep them engaged and ready to start 2024 with a great attitude.

5. Clinical equipment and optical maintenance

Take these final 2 weeks of the year to perform maintenance on your optical equipment. Ensure all diagnostic and dispensing equipment is in excellent working condition to provide top-notch services to your patients in the new year.

Take the time to declutter and organize all areas of your practice. Clean and refresh the optical retail appearance, update displays, and rearrange frame collections to create a welcoming atmosphere for patients in the new year.

Look around, including the surroundings outside: the storefront, lobby, or parking lot. Is maintenance necessary? Is there broken concrete on the sidewalk or graffiti on the walls? Take the time to give your location a quick facelift to improve the physical appearance. Sometimes repainting a wall makes a big difference.

6. Marketing and promotion planning

Develop a robust marketing plan for the upcoming year. This plan should outline your marketing strategies, including paid and organic online advertising, social media campaigns, and local promotions. Create a content calendar to ensure a consistent online presence.

Here are some marketing tips:

  • Once you have determined which frame collections sold well in the past year based on your data reports, meet with the frame company representative to create a marketing and sales strategy for 2024.
  • Some frame companies offer co-op money for marketing. Meet with their marketing department and put your co-op money to use.
  • Collaborate with a local boutique and cross-promote your products and services. Create a fashion show in 2024 for customer appreciation week and showcase your eyewear and sun wear styles along with the latest fashion clothing trends from a local boutique.
  • Call your website developer and request a revamp of your current website. According to Aspire Internet Design, a website design company, study findings show that regularly updating content can vastly improve the search engine optimization of a website, driving traffic while also improving website rankings and authority on search engines such as Google.

7. Budget review and planning

Review your budget for the past year and assess where you can improve. Look for ways to budget and save money to be more profitable.

One year, we called our payroll processing company and asked for a discount entering the following year. We shared that we planned on finding better pricing with a competitor, so the payroll company agreed to an additional 10% discount, saving us hundreds of dollars that year.

Consider reallocating resources based on your goals and financial objectives for the new year. Create a detailed budget plan that covers all expenses, including marketing, staffing, and frame inventory.

Conclusion

The last 2 weeks of December present a valuable opportunity for private practice owners to prepare for a successful new year. By focusing on inventory, finances, goal setting, employee training, marketing, new patient acquisition, and various other aspects of clinical management, you can position your private practice for growth and prosperity in the coming year.

Diana Canto-Sims, OD, is CEO and founder of La Vida Eyewear. She is in practice with her husband in Chicago, Illinois.

Remember that careful planning and thoughtful execution during this crucial period can set the tone for a successful and fulfilling year. Approach the last 2 weeks wisely to start the new year feeling confident and organized for a better 2024.

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