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John Marvin

Make Sure You Have Standard Operating Procedures

What is done consistently is far more important than what is done every now and then.




CONSISTENCY MATTERS. WHAT is done consistently is far more important than what is done every now and then. Consistency builds trust and confidence. Quality customer service requires consistency.

Consistency is only possible with written systems. The Webster Dictionary defines a system as “…an organized or established procedure.” A procedure or system is only established when it is written down and recognized as the “best way of doing a task.” Now, think about your office. Do you have systems in place to ensure quality output of your front desk? To ensure quality output in your exam lane, optical, or finishing lab?

The collection of these systems is combined together to form Standard Operating Procedures. If you do not use a written set of standard operating procedures for every function in your office or store, it is impossible to provide consistent, quality care for your patents.
Each day your patients and customers are, in effect, coming to experience your delivery of eyecare. Does your office have a script to follow or is each interaction an ad-lib of quality care?


In addition to the consistent execution of routine matters in a quality way, using standard operating procedures reduces your expenses and significantly increases your revenues. Here’s how:

1. Saves thousands on training. Independent optometry practices have significant turnover rates. Staff turnover costs practices tens of thousands of dollars each year. The cost of replacing one entry-level staff member making $18 an hour is more than $17,000 according to Adecco, a national recruitment firm. Let me emphasize, $17,845 is the cost of replacing one employee. One of the major reasons for staff turnover is that employees don’t feel confident in what they are doing and their training is inadequate. The typical optometry office training program is not based on standard operating procedures, but rather on the unscripted direction of another employee.

2. Builds a loyal patient base. Think about the companies and products to which consumers are loyal, whether it is a brand of soup, a smart phone or even a local news cast. A doctor’s office is no different. If people have confidence that their experience will consistently exceed their expectations, they will be loyal. They also will have confidence in referring their friends and other family members.


3. Optimizes revenue. Patients should have the opportunity to make good purchase decisions based on knowledge of what features are available and the benefits they offer. This will only happen when every patient has a consistent presentation of the product and services, features and related benefits. Consistent presentations only occur when there is a defined script or, to quote Mr. Webster, there are “established procedures.”

Consumers have many options where to spend their money and time. A set of written standard operating procedures will help you deliver a patient experience that leads to consistent success.

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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