Managing a successful optometry practice takes much more than just an optometry degree. It requires a range of diverse skills that you may never have learned in school — from business knowledge to HR expertise and much more.
Below are a few management tips to help get you thinking about the key building blocks for success in the field of optometry. Though the list may seem overwhelming if you’re just starting out, the good news is that there is plenty of optometry practice support available to help your practice not only survive, but thrive.
About Optometric Management
Successful optometry practice management takes a wide range of skills: communication, leadership, decision-making, business, delegation, creativity, vision and motivation, just to name a few. Though knowledge of optometry is obviously key, it can’t be the only tool in your toolbox.
That being said, you don’t have to master all of these skills at once. You can learn many of them over time with the right support and resources. You can also hire team members who support you and enhance the overall skills and knowledge of your practice. For example, maybe you’re an introvert and prefer to handle the paperwork side of things, but you hire a wonderful people-person to help motivate your team and make your customer service shine. The point is, be honest about the skills you are confident in handling yourself and know when to seek support or invest in solutions to overcome your weaker areas.
5 Unique Tips for Optometric Management
1. Know Where You’re Headed
A successful practice stems from a solid business plan and a clear vision for the future. As a leader, you need to provide your team with a clear roadmap, so that everyone can work collectively toward your goals for the future. You should set specific, achievable goals and put tracking systems in place so that you can stay up-to-date on your progress. Your business plan should also include a detailed budget and financial metrics to track profitability, built from a profit and loss analysis of your practice.
If you’re working on a business plan and need support, there are professional optometry practice advisors who can assess your practice and make a customized action plan to help set you on the right track.
2. Assemble & Equip a Capable Team
Your practice is nothing without a knowledgeable, confident and solid team behind it. First, you must hire the right people and put them in roles suited to their specific skills, strengths and potential. But don’t leave them hanging! You must also provide them with the training, resources and tools they need to be successful in those roles. That may be an employee handbook with all your policies and procedures in one place, access to optical coding support, or software to help measure and track your practice’s performance.
If you want your team members to continue to grow along with your practice, you’ll need to keep investing in your staff and ensure they stay up-to-date on their skills. Regular performance reviews and optometry staff trainings are two great ways to help keep your employees engaged and improving.
Again, if you find you need support in this area, know that optometry HR tools and solutions are available to help.
3. Create a Welcoming Experience for Your Patients
Providing exceptional customer service is essential in order for any business to succeed, and the same rule applies to optometry practices. Unlike other types of businesses though, you’re also responsible for delivering the highest quality patient care possible.
There is so much that goes into this, from designing a comfortable and welcoming office environment to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment, and much more. You should think about your entire patient experience from their perspective. From the first time they call to schedule an appointment, to the second they walk through your doors, to the moment you say goodbye… every little interaction is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression and keep coming back.
4. Market Your Optometry Practice Online
In the modern business world, your online marketing and branding are two of the most important aspects to securing new patients. In the digital age, clients no longer simply see your building, walk in to learn more, and schedule an appointment. In fact, 92% of healthcare consumers aged 18-34 said they go online for research before a call or in-person visit.
Social media should be a central aspect of your online optometry marketing efforts. With high-quality, strategic social media management, you can build a strong sense of community, nurture trusting relationships with your clients, and generate new leads to grow your clientele. For example, surveys show that more than 70% of businesses have acquired a new customer through Facebook. Social media can also improve and help you manage your reputation, position you as an expert in the field, and help you advertise and promote your products and services. For more specific tips and suggestions, read our complete guide to social media marketing for optometry practices.
Additionally, the importance of positive online reviews to promote and grow your optometry practice cannot be overstated. Although word-of-mouth used to be the main way consumers found out about and established trust in small businesses, in today’s world they rely primarily on customer reviews and online ratings. Studies show that the vast majority (more than 90%) of consumers now read online reviews before deciding to visit or support a business. Check out this blog post for creative ideas for getting positive reviews for your optometry practice.
If you need more support, joining an optometry marketing program can help you get set up with a great website, a social media marketing strategy, a plan to generate online reviews and more.
5. Know That You’re Not Alone!
Knowledge is power, as is a strong support network. Joining a professional optometry network will ensure that you have all the resources and support you need in order to succeed in all the areas mentioned above, and so much more. Knowing you have a safety net to fall back on for any problems that arise is an investment that will provide you with priceless peace of mind as you establish and grow your practice.
Common Management Mistakes
In addition to all the things that can launch you toward success, there are some common management mistakes that you’ll want to avoid:
- Not taking time to learn how to become an efficient and effective manager.
- Not investing in regular training to keep everyone on your team up-to-date on the latest changes and best practices in the field.
- Neglecting to put together a clear budget and track profitability.
- Not investing in your support staff. They are an equally important part of the overall practice “machine” and patient experience!
- Not having clear, achievable goals and benchmarks in place to keep your team and practice progressing.
- Not taking the time to really brand and market your practice.
Optometric Management Support for Your Practice
Clearly, it takes a diverse set of skills and knowledge to establish and maintain a successful optometry practice. Most practice leaders seek support in at least one, if not all of the areas mentioned above to ensure they can grow and prosper.
The PECAA Membership Program grants you access to countless industry-specific tools, resources, training and consultancies to support your practice and team holistically, through all the ups and downs. As a member of PECAA, you’ll feel more confident in your management skills and have endless opportunities to keep learning and growing. Join PECAA and start your journey today!