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John Marvin

4 Steps for Effectively Managing Your Eyecare Business

In fact, these steps will help you will build whatever it is you want to build.




OWNING AN OPTOMETRY practice you wear many hats. You are a provider of services, as well as the one responsible for managing the business and making it appealing to patients. This is no small task. If you’re not confident in how to do the latter then you have the makings of a very high stress career.

I put together a simple, yet effective, approach to office management for a doctor-owner. It consists of only four steps. A column could be spent on each of these, but here I’ll provide a synopsis and encourage you to pursue self-discovery.

Step #1: Give a shit. Excuse my crude language, but it serves a purpose. Successfully managing your business requires that effective management matter to you. Only you can properly manage your office. That doesn’t mean you can’t hire an office manager, but someone needs to supervise them and that someone is you. If you don’t care enough to put time and effort into this, then regardless of who you hire it will not be effective.

You have to be willing to be uncomfortable while you learn. You need to read books, attend management seminars outside of optometry, learn from colleagues. Many speaker-circuit ODs and self-described “success gurus” are telling you how to have practices like theirs. You are not them. You have to work this out for yourself. The only way is to put in the hours, money and time away from family and fun. You have to care enough to do so.

You have to give a shit.

Step #2: Write down what you want. You can start in generalities but it should be an outline of the customer’s experience. Write down what you want customers to experience when they call your office. How do you want them greeted? What kind of schedule do you want? What steps in the exam do you want to deliver and how do you want staff to facilitate this? Start at 30,000 feet and drill down. This process will be never-ending. You will continually define and modify what it is you want. This step will take time; start by planning at least 30 minutes day to work on it. You might start with a general outline: a) contacting our office, b) arriving at our office, c) the steps of the exam, d) the retail experience, e) billing and collections, f) the dispensing of eyewear, etc.


Step #3: Track and measure. This will also take thought and time. We hear a lot about key performance indicators and they are important, but they don’t measure customer experience. You measure that by reading reviews and conducting surveys. You might hold a monthly lunch with three or four of your customers to talk about their experience. These sorts of ideas are how you make sure that what you want is actually being delivered.

Step #4: Continually improve. This is ongoing for as long as you own the business. It requires regular staff meetings to review results of customers’ experiences, identify problems and opportunities, and revise and improve processes.

Each month, select an area and focus on how to improve it. For example, appointment scheduling. Is it easy to do? What information is overlooked? Why do people who call for an appointment not end up scheduling one? In a typical office, 50% of people who call for the purpose of scheduling an appointment don’t.

That’s it, four steps. Each is necessary. Once you finish the fourth step, begin again. It’s an unending cycle, but you’ll get better at each step. And you’ll begin to develop staff who can take ownership of each step and achieve personal growth. This ongoing loop will build whatever you want to build. But it starts with you and whether or not you care about the success of your business. If you don’t, no one will.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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