John Marvin: How Do You Measure Up?

Practice management advice from John Marvin

3 easy ways to discover how effectively your practice is delivering to its ‘audience’

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 edition of INVISION.

The Broadway musical The Producers won a record 12 Tony Awards — but here’s something you may not know: Long before the production held its official opening night, it had logged 33 previews. The Producers was a winner — and those preview performances were essential in its success, since a play often goes through many rewrites based on the audience’s response to the previews.

In other words, a preview is a form of measurement. Without previews, producers spend lots of money merely hoping their show will succeed.

Last month, we talked about writing the script or story for your practice and the importance of rehearsing and rewriting this story with your team. Well, just as on Broadway, you need to measure the results of your daily “production” to make sure it continually improves and brings value to your patients — your “audience.” Here are three easy ways to measure your practice story so you’ll know how to improve your performance.

First, sincerely ask your patients to review your practice. Find a digital communication program that automatically emails a follow-up survey to each patient. Then take the extra step and randomly call patients yourself to let them know you care about their opinion.

This is easier than you might imagine. Each week, a team member will give you 10 names and phone numbers of people who have had their eye exam and made a purchase in the previous two weeks. Set aside a few minutes each day to call each of those people.

You may only reach two or three in person, but the impression you make with them —and the messages you leave for those you don’t reach —will let them know you authentically care about them. The combination of the digital survey results and your phone conversations will help you know where you can improve by rewriting your practice story.

Second, identify five performance measures to check each day, each week and month. There are endless items that can be measured and it is easy to be overwhelmed with information — reasons why, sadly, most doctors either sporadically measure or don’t measure at all. Picking five key measures will keep it simple, yet give you good information on the strength and direction of your practice. I suggest these five:

The total number of complete exams performed each day;

The gross revenue per exam; that is, the entire amount of money generated by the exam, including any eyewear purchased or optional procedures or tests done;

The number of exams performed for patients that are new to your practice;

Your cost of goods for sales, calculated by the actual cost of materials as a percentage of the sale price;

The number of multiple pair sales. Keep track of how many of your patient exams result in the sale of at least two pairs of prescription eyewear.

Measuring these five areas will help you know where you stand now. Then you can set targets for where you want the numbers to be each day, each week and each month.

Finally, openly share the results of these surveys and measurements with everyone on your team. You own the business, but your employees must have ownership in the success of your practice and its story — and you can only achieve this by sharing the measurement results.

Prominently post the five performance measures each day, each week and each month in an area where all staff can see them. The digital survey results and key feedback from your phone conversations should be shared each week, too — either in a full staff meeting or what I like to call a “huddle-up” session before you start each morning.

As the great American writer and Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” So collect and use your measurements to rewrite your story and make it better. Successful practices are built day by day, ever improving on how you deliver patient care.

With more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, JOHN D. MARVIN writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. He is president of Texas State Optical, a member-owned cooperative of 120 independent, professional optometry practices. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..