Strategic planning, goal setting bases practice success

July 25, 2013

A well-thought-out business vision provides you and your team with the inspiration and consistency needed to achieve extraordinary profitable and professional results.

Optometry is a great profession for many reasons, but my favorite aspect is the diversity of the ways we practice. Thanks to the countless dedicated professionals who came before us, we can dedicate our practices to providing care to our patients or we can serve those who have lost their vision. We can concentrate on niche arenas, such as complicated contact lens fits, vision therapy, low vision, high-fashion eyewear, or ocular disease. We can focus solely on those people who are the neediest, or limit our practice to the most demanding.

This diversity, while it brings me the most delight in practicing, has also brought me a great deal of frustration. I sometimes find myself exasperated by trying to do it all. Vision therapy and low vision are two of the most needed services that I have the ability to provide. I want to provide those services and feel like I should, but I have tried several times, and it’s clear they’re not for me.

We all do it

For years, I have been working with doctors who just want to straighten up their practices. Experience has shown me that this is a common mistake in optometry, and in everything else. Very few of us have a clear vision about what type of practice we are building. Because of that, every time we learn of a successful strategy from one of our buddies, we want to try it. Have you ever invested in an expensive set of specialty lenses that a colleague told you about, only to throw it away a few years later? If you haven’t-you will.

But, growth is all about taking chances-don’t worry about it, but do learn from it.


Decide who you are

In business terms, a plan begins with a clear, well-thought-out vision-the concept of what the business will become. The vision dictates the mission, which determines the goals that frame the available resources and processes to support delivery of the product or service your practice will provide.

Successful businesses always begin with the vision and move forward, taking disciplined steps toward the delivery. For a vision statement to be clear, it has to be written out, defining what the practice is and what it is not. If you can get a clear idea of the practice you want to build, then you can share that with your team and they can support the ideals that will help you build that vision. Once everyone is on board about what you want to accomplish, the mission can be narrowed down to accomplishable goals. Then, decisions can be made specifically how to achieve those goals and how that will help deliver eye care.

But, for the vision of a business to work, you have to take the steps in order.

A level of efficiency

The vision for my practice includes respecting patients’ time, so much that I strive for patients to never wait for us. Don’t misunderstand-we have a long way to go, but we keep trying. Here are some of the things we do to make this a reality:

  • Online paperwork was entered in the patient’s record before he or she arrives; don’t ask for it again.

  • Technicians greet the patient upon arrival arrive and take him or her straight to an exam room.

  • Pre-testing avoids redundancy.

  • Checkout stations in all exam rooms, the contact lens room, and the optical.

  • No phone at the front desk.

  • And we have a lot of things planned.

With this level of efficiency being our first concern, you can see where any service that requires focused, specialized attention will be a tough fit. But, it also limits our ability to do everything we want to do.

When I hear about great success that someone is having fitting scleral lenses, I want to do that, too. And rather than thinking about how that would affect the overall flow of our systems, I may buy the fitting set or go to the seminar. This is an example of doing it backward.

When non-businesspeople, such as doctors, run businesses, we tend to go backward and start by changing the delivery of care first. Remember-that part is supposed to be last.

While creating a vision statement for your practice may sound simple, the diversity of our profession makes it tough. Naturally, all of us want to do it all, even though we realize nobody can be everything to everyone. So, we created Vision Builder App <http://www.leadershipod.com/>, a free tool that helps you get started. We built it to be used, so use it.

I encourage you not to make another practice decision until you have a clearly defined vision that everyone on your team understands. Then, try to look back at it before any big decision. ODT

By Michael Rothschild, OD

Dr. Rothschild founded his practice in Carrollton, GA, in 1999 and is a 1997 graduate of Southern College of Optometry.