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Be a Game Changer and Make Your Competition Irrelevant

Facing competition in your market? Make yourself into something completely new.

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“BUSINESS STRATEGY” is one of the most common phrases in the business world but its meaning is rarely properly understood.

Business strategy is the concept of planning for the further success of an organization. Optometry businesses often fail because they misidentify growth as a strategy, when it is in fact an objective. A saturated industry, with established players, will require a different business strategy than a relatively new one. An optometric business can thrive with the right motivation, mindset and perseverance even with increased competition from other opticals and online retailers. Be the game changer in your market. Why compete in an already highly competitive low-margin marketplace? Develop your own unique strategy that innovates the industry.

Strategies that lead to the successful optometry businesses are: 

A Growth Mindset

This refers to an optometry business’ ability to market well and gain more patients due to a growing reputation. An average practice should grow 2 to 3 percent a year. Evaluate your key performance indicators to scale your practice. Understanding how your practice compares to others is a good benchmark for evaluating the metrics of your practice. Having a growth mindset will help you see opportunities that others won’t. Use failure as a motivation to learn and continue to work hard to push forward. Your growth mindset will create innovative ways to approach challenges, identify what is lacking, and remove pain points for your customers.

The Competitive Upper Hand

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The business that is constantly being worked on flourishes. Blockbuster was Number 1 at once and didn’t see Netflix as a competitor. They even had a chance to buy them but declined. Always respect your competitors. They might have more income or resources but having the drive, motivation, and perseverance to continually pursue what you want is the ultimate competitive upper hand. Optometry offices can find a competitive edge with 3D printing eyewear, new technologies, value-based services, personal branding or a unique localized social media strategy. Social media alone is very powerful. Small businesses can now conquer a local market by creating fans instead of customers. Determine what specific niche you want to be known for and continue to pursue it, even when you are at the top.

Gain Higher Profits

The more patients an optometry business has the higher its profits. You get more customers by creating “fans” and providing niche value. Be unique instead of the best. A lot of companies try to be the best. They strive for the best product or the best marketing. They believe that’s what’s necessary to gain the largest market share. But, it’s the opposite. In an industry where several companies provide the same product or service, customers find it difficult to choose, so they decide based on lowest price. One way to overtake the competition is by investing in being unique. Offer a feature that other businesses don’t, or offer greater efficiency, to distinguish your business. That is a fundemental of a competitive advantage; a feature that sets you apart from your competitors. After that, increasing net profits can be achieved by negotiating vendor discounts, group pricing, cross training staff, medical model technology and seeing more patients per hour.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is about identifying new untested waters. Warby Parker leveraged the industry to create its own competitive advantage. They broke out of the traditional model and created their own market space that has become a billion-dollar industry. They created an innovative value system offering online products that were unique and low cost. They differentiated themselves on value, price and image. Companies are shaping the industry with creative thinking. You could consider taking a different approach to social media where everyone is battling for Facebook/Instagram attention; try LinkedIn or Snapchat to find success. Create an innovative approach where it’s easier to be profitable with less competition. 

Dr. Maria Sampalis is the owner of Sampalis Eyecare in Warwick R.I. A practice management consultant, the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook and of corporate-optometry–careers.com and corporate-optometry.com. Email her at msampalis@hotmail.com.

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Dr. Maria Sampalis is the owner of Sampalis Eyecare in Warwick, RI. A practice management consultant, the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook and of corporateoptometrycareers.com and corporateoptometry.com. Email her at msampalis@hotmail.com.

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John Marvin

Forget Opinions, Measure the Hard Facts and Data to Improve Your Business

In the end, it is the least expensive and most productive business tool in your arsenal.

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THERE’S A BUSINESS axiom that says if you want to improve something, measure it. The sheer act of quantifying an issue and then determining how to improve its outcome incrementally, will itself create improvement.

W. Edwards Deming, the father of continuous quality improvement, believed that management decisions should be made using facts and data; and that successful managers use that data to best understand customers and their ever-changing expectations of goods and services.

The contrast is making decisions based on opinion. I believe that this is done far too often by optometrists and managers in our industry and these are the reasons why:

It’s easy. What could be more comfortable than offering your opinion about patients’ preferences and behaviors? In some ways, it just makes sense. You spend all day, several days a week observing people in your practice. Naturally, your opinion is enough on which to base your decisions.

It’s popular. Everyone has an opinion. The dilemma is when team members’ views conflict with one another. Whose opinion is correct? Usually, it defaults to the person with the most authority. When this happens, you can diminish the perspective of others.

It’s cheap. Opinions are free. You don’t need to go to the expense of both time and money to gather facts and data. Why go to all of that time, effort and spend money when your opinion will do the job just fine? However, a decision based on belief and not facts can be the most expensive decision you’ve ever made.

Recently, I was working with a young optometrist to open his first practice, and as you can imagine, he was full of enthusiasm and confidence in his opinions. He had classmates that had started new practices. What could be so difficult?

Of course, he had an opinion about his location. He had already determined where he wanted to open his new office. When I pointed out some of the challenges this selection would create, he wouldn’t be dissuaded. It had everything he believed, in his opinion, that was critical to a successful location.

It was close to where he wanted to live. It was half the price of locations in areas with much higher traffic patterns, and there were no other optometrists within a five-mile area. In his opinion, this location was ideal.

I explained to him that selecting the right location is probably the most critical first step in building a successful practice. That he should consider the households in the area, the exposure that a site will provide his new office, and that is all a part of what you pay for in lease payments. Basing this decision on his opinion is an example of how expensive a wrong decision can be.

Another practice data area that is neglected is the retention of patients. We don’t measure the percentage of patients we saw a year ago that return in twelve months. Why would we? We are great at what we do, why wouldn’t they return?

After all, we sent them a postcard telling them it was time to come back for an appointment.

The office most successful at retaining patients that I know measures and reports to the team each week the percentage of recalled patients who booked an appointment. They have learned that success in this area requires a phone call to follow up on those who do not respond to their postcards, emails, and text messages. The OD/owner is proud that 87.3 percent of their recalled patients return for their annual exam and he is still working on improving this percentage.

Managing your business using facts and data is crucial. It takes the emotions, personal perspectives, and biases out of making improvements. In the end, it is the least expensive and most productive business tool in your arsenal.

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Editor's Note

Size Matters … The Bigger the Better

And addressing some other sensitive subjects you might encounter in the workplace.

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AND THE BIGGER the better as far as I’m concerned. I have no problem admitting I am a size queen. I love a BIIIIIG … survey. The more data the happier I am. So, I got a lot of pleasure out of seeing the results of our first Big Survey and wow did it provide some insight. There is a lot to unpack there and you can see everything we found starting on page 34. This is the first of many to come and I’m excited to see how this survey evolves from year to year.

The answers were of course anonymous but there is one more thing I need to say: breastfeeding or having a pregnant employee’s water break at work are not weird things employees have done. Those are natural and unavoidable. If you answered something in this vein to the question “What is the weirdest thing an employee has done at work?” perhaps you need some sensitivity training and to take a very close look at yourself. Ok, rant over.

You know what amused me in this issue? The number of people cutting their nails at work — for the record, that is weird and gross (page 70) — and that so many of you consider your best and worst habit one in the same!

Also, rarely does a Real Deal generate the sort of response this issue’s did – The Case of the Concealed Concern on page 72. I know the gun debate is a hot topic and in a magazine with as broad an audience as INVISION’s there is no way we are all going to come down on the same side of an issue, but except for one slightly over the top (and poorly written) response, all the points of view we received were measured, well-executed and logical. This one really got you thinking, so if you haven’t read it or addressed this issue in your business, I encourage you to review it and discuss.

Best wishes for your business,

Dee Carroll

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

dee@invisionmag.com

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Start a movement. Resurrect a one-off holiday celebrating opticians. (Calendar, page 20)
2. According to our Pop Quiz, 58% of you are anti-flu shot (page 71). So, be flu ready with an in-office flu kit. (Tip Sheet, page 58)
3. Want to know how to get to the root of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in the interview? We’ve got some ideas. (Ask INVISION, page 62)
4. Everyone loves a party… that’s how you “get to show them up” to your in-store events. (Line Time, page 66)
5. The perfect way to harness the power of the modern consumer’s self-absorption to benefit your business. (Benchmarks, page 68)

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Danielle Richardson

A Case for Yoga

Let go of any preconceived notions… yoga is for everyone.

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I KNOW, I KNOW — yoga is not for you… but let me stop you right there. Yoga is truly for everyone! Yoga is finding its place in the mainstream as 1 in 7 American adults reported practicing yoga according to a 2017 survey.

However, as the number or practitioners continues to rise, so too does the number of people who feel alienated by yoga. Social media has warped the perception of this ancient practice into something that more closely resembles gymnastics or acrobatics. This shift distances many would be practitioners because of feelings of not being “flexible” or “fit” enough. I’m here to tell you that’s BS! This article is to make the case for yoga and its inclusion in your wellness routine.

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The true origin of yoga can be disputed, but the most popular types of yoga in the West are derived from a 5000-year old Indian philosophy system and body of knowledge. Yoga takes a holistic view of the human experience and consists of practices to unite the mind, body, and soul. Yoga extends beyond physical movement to combine meditation, self-discipline, and breathing practices to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Below are a few things to remember about yoga:

Yoga is for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, yoga does not require fancy tights or expensive studio memberships. Additionally, you don’t have to overhaul your life or become a Himalayan monk to practice. The only requirements for yoga are your body and your breath. Yoga is most often practiced on hard wood with a mat or blanket, but carpet is suitable as well. Yoga can also be made accessible to those with disabilities using chairs and props for modifications. There truly is something for everyone.

Beginners are always welcome. There are plenty of resources available for new yogis. You can go the in-person route and sign up for a new student special at a local studio. Local yoga studios often have classes designed for beginners where you can receive in-person guidance and personalized tips to make the practice more comfortable. Additionally, you can use online beginner yoga videos on YouTube via my channel “FierceClarity” or another excellent source like “YogaWithAdrienne.” My recommendation is to begin once per week and gradually increase frequency. There is no right or wrong amount of yoga to do, but the longer you stick with the practice the more benefits you will see.

Yoga has real benefits. According to The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an NIH affiliate, research shows yoga may help relieve stress and chronic pain, manage chronic disease symptoms, and even aid in smoking cessation. Other studies have found yoga to successfully decrease inflammation, improve heart health, and improve some symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Additionally, yoga aids in weight loss and can help maintain a healthy weight when practiced regularly.

I started practicing yoga at the end of optometry school when I was burned out and sick from an unhealthy lifestyle. This simple practice has changed my life for the better. I became so passionate about it that I now teach yoga to others. I hope you will let go of any preconceived notions and give yoga a try. It is a rich tradition with several different styles and teachers. Be like Goldilocks and experiment a bit until you find the yoga that is just right for you.

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