Usually an optometrist who wants to own a practice takes a business course or two, just before he or she graduates from school.
Of course, some things never change in business, such as needing to make a profit and having an actual product or service to provide consumers. Still, you have to adapt to changing conditions in your practice, in order to maximize profits.
For example, one practice had stellar sales in the month of August. What was going on that lead to such great sales? As it turns out, the practice got a new line of frames that patients loved. The optician expanded the inventory of the frames and got rid of the ones that weren’t selling. Another way to take advantage of what’s hot is to implement “just in time” ordering. While the down side to that you have higher shipping cost, you aren’t tying up too much money in inventory that isn’t selling.
Another thing you can do is to expand office hours. Since most people work 9 to 5, they can’t always make it into office for an eye exam Monday through Friday. Having a day during the work-week where the practice is open until 8 or 9 o’clock will help to get more people in the office. This translates into better service and higher sales since your staff won’t feel they have to rush people out the door when 5 o’clock comes.
In addition, something as simple as reworking the displays can work wonders. Typical optical displays can hold up to 100 eyeglass frames. Seeing all those frames can overwhelm a person and make it hard to make a decision. If they don’t make the decision in the office, they will leave and possibly fill the prescription elsewhere. Making some small changes, such as breaking up the display with white space so that there isn’t too much inventory to look at can help.
Also, don’t be afraid to add props—not just seasonal ones. If you are a fan of a local professional or college team put up some memorabilia/logos. Your displays and furniture don’t have to come from companies specializing in retail establishments. Pick up some mirrors at thrift shops. Buy some gently used dining room chairs and have them in the waiting room. These touches add some personality to your practice and encourage people to linger. The longer people stay in your practice, the greater the likelihood they will fill their prescription with you.
Yes, you spent more time learning about the anatomy of the eye and ocular conditions then you did learning how to run a business. Still, you can’t ignore the business part of your practice. By taking a closer look at sales, hours of operation, and your retail space, you’ll find areas that can be improved. If it works, keep doing it. If not, find something else. It takes trial and error to find a product mix, hours of operation, and retail design that are successful for your practice. Once you find something that works, your practice and patients will benefit.