John D. Marvin: The Importance of Order

Business ownership advice from John D. Marvin

Three major areas where you can eliminate chaos for ultimate success.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of INVISION.

There is a peace and confidence that we get when things are in order. That calm is the antithesis of what we experience when surrounded by chaos.

For many optometrists, their practice seems like controlled chaos. But controlled chaos is still chaos and does not produce the same result as order. In fact, controlled chaos can have a significant negative impact on success. Here are three areas where order is necessary and how it can strengthen the practice.

The Order of a Morning Routine

Too many offices understand what boxer Mike Tyson meant when he said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” It may seem like the day barely started when you “get punched” and order is suddenly chaos. It is important to establish a consistent routine first thing each morning.

Establish your office morning routine with simple tasks that are easy to do. Include walking in through the front door so you can see what the place looks like when your guests arrive. Make a list of things you appreciate about each associate and tell them before the day starts. Check the optical is clean and professionally merchandised. These and other simple tasks establish a sense of order starting the day and its easier to maintain order than to re-establish it.

The Order of Your Environment

We don’t often think about it, but our surroundings have a big influence on our attitude and ability to interact with others. If your desk or exam rooms are cluttered, it impacts the quality of care you provide. If the breakroom hasn’t been cleaned, it sends a message to staff. If the office is not in good order, you’re not able to focus on people but are rather trying to find something you swear was just there.

A dispensary that’s not kept in order, frames cleaned, inventory restocked, creates a less than appealing shopping environment for your guests. I’ve often said, people have no idea whether they received a good or bad exam, but they for darn sure know a good retail experience from a bad one. Part of their satisfaction comes from how easy it is to find and consider their choices. Make it easy by making sure everything is in order.

The Order of Staff Policies

I cannot over emphasize the importance of a thorough set of employee policies; their lack can be a systemic disease on the health of your practice. The No. 1 issue the majority of optometrists deal with is employee turnover. The No. 1 reason for turnover is the environment created by a lack of employee policies.

Employees don’t leave practices where they feel valued. People don’t leave for 50 cents or a dollar more an hour if they feel respected and can grow. They leave because they don’t have a clear understanding of expectations, they’ve not been adequately trained and policies change regularly. Employee turnover can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year but low turnover can actually make you money. Patients like continuity and reward it with frequent visits.

With 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, John D. Marvin writes about marketing, management and education at He is president of Texas State Optical. Contact him at jdmarvin@tso. com.