- Know more about eyes than your competitors.
Keep up to date with the current thinking, new tests, and new treatment on retinal detachment, floaters, dry eye, keratoconus, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataract. Go to one big conference a year, take part in peer review, meet old colleagues make new colleagues read, talk, and think.
- Treat your staff better than your competitors treat theirs.
Keep good staff by treating them properly. It costs a lot in time and lost revenue to hire new staff. Don’t be fearful of getting rid of poor staff. Pay the good ones slightly above the going rate and reward them in kind (vouchers for meals, drinks, books) when they go above and beyond. Make sure they can cope with the work you have given them. Let them rest in the evenings and at the weekend. Ask if they are okay.
- Help your patients more than your competitors help theirs.
Listen to your patients, make it obvious that you have listened, and act on what you hear. If you promise something then make sure you keep that promise and if you can’t let them know why. Don’t keep people waiting.
- Try not to interrupt. Let people speak. Listen.
This goes for patients, staff, sales reps, and suppliers. Listening is a powerful tool for communication. If you listen you make people feel important. If you make people feel important they are receptive and engaged and open to you and they trust you, they feel good about you. Your listening matters to the speaker. Your listening sets them up to listen and engage with you. Big eyes, smiling nodding, and being present. Ego listening; taking someone’s story over and making it your story. Listening with intellect. Looking for patterns in their speech, you remember something they said before. Listening for the subtext.
- Clutter demands attention.
So much is demanding our attention. Clear your space so you can focus. Set yourself up for success. Tidy consulting room, tidy dispensing area, and workshop. Not too many frames not too much in the promotional display.
- Don’t buy every new piece of kit.
It’s expensive and you might get bored of using it or find it doesn’t help in making a diagnosis. It adds time to the eye examination. Who is going to use the equipment? Loan new kit for a few weeks and see if it helps you help your patients. If it doesn’t send it back. Can you charge patients for the extra time and use that money to help pay for the kit you keep?
- Don’t cancel patients.
Have someone ready who can cover at very short notice, even a day. Cancelling 14 (or more) patients at short notice takes time, is stressful for the member of staff contacting the patient, is annoying for the patient, and means a huge reduction in income for that day and some may go elsewhere.
- Never bad mouth your competition, this goes for your staff as well.
No one likes a moaner. If a patient says something negative about a competitor say something neutral like ‘Oh dear, that’s a shame’ and leave it at that. Don’t add fuel to the fire.
- Keep fit, eat well, and sleep well. This goes for your staff as well.
If you are sick you can’t be at work and may need to cancel patients. See Tip 7 about this. If a member of staff is sick it will put stress on the ones who are at work. If this happens a lot the ones who come to work may consider going to work for one of your competitors. If it happens a lot see how you can help the member of staff who is sick. Encourage a healthy lifestyle amongst your staff by leading a healthy lifestyle yourself.
- Encourage children (3 years and above) to have their eyes examined.
Do a good job. Brings other siblings, parents and grandparents, and school gate friends. Try and get them to attend just before they are of the age to start school. Run promotions. Ask your young adults if they have children. Ask your old adults if they have grandchildren.
- Use patient signs and symptoms and eye protection in your clinical decision-making.
Anti-reflection coatings for driving, photochromics for those bothered by light, and prescription sunglasses for sunny holidays. Eye protection for squash players. Prescription goggles for swimmers.
- Give people the chance to ask questions.
It’s simple. Just say ‘Do you have any questions you want to ask me about anything?’ After the eye exam. After dispensing glasses.
- Advise nutritional supplements but have a means of measuring and sharing improvement.
If you are trying to increase macular pigment optical density with lutein-based nutritional supplements have a way of measuring baseline and improvements. If you are trying to show improvement through floater reduction then the Mars contrast test or Pelli-Robson contrast test can help show improvement in contrast sensitivity through nutritional supplementation.
- Don’t try to beat your competition on price.
It’s a race to the bottom. Work out how much you need to make in a month to cover all salaries (including yours) and costs. Estimate how much income you will get from eye exam fees and how many pairs of glasses you are likely to supply and then work out your prices. These can be adjusted up or down if required. The latter with special offers or sales.
- Stick to your daily patient schedule.
If you can’t let the patient know. Nobody likes to be kept waiting but people dislike it even more when they don’t know how long they are going to be kept waiting.
Perhaps you think that my style is dogmatic. Maybe it is but time is passing. We are all in a hurry.