What was your biggest challenge in 2022?
Like many of my colleagues, our biggest challenge was all about staffing issues. We struggled to fill key roles – particularly our optician roles – within the practice.
How did you address that challenge and overcome it?
We found that we were more successful if we looked inward rather than outward, we generally already had someone within the organization who was interested in professional development. One of our entry-level positions, which is a sort of practice greeter, has turned out to be a source for developing higher skilled individuals. We also find that when we train from within, we can actually train folks to function the way we really want to within our own culture.
How do you identify good candidates for professional development?
We leverage personality profiling to help us understand what people are best for which roles in the business. We understand that there really are differences between personality types and the type of positions where they will succeed. We also just ask them what their aspirations are, which has helped us really clarify who should go where.
When you review your metrics for 2022, what went really well?
Surprisingly, one of the things that went really well this year was the Revenue per Exam. Even though we may not hit our goals for the number of exams, our Revenue per Exam is consistently high. That tells me that we’re doing a good job of maximizing those patient encounters. In spite of all the things that are happening in the world, inflation, etc. the people we are seeing are still spending money.
There’s a second metric we have seen some significant success in, which is the average eyewear sale. We track our total optical sales relative to the number of eyewear jobs we do, and we’ve been exceeding our goal in our average eyewear sale. We anticipated a specific dollar amount, and we seem to be exceeding that as well. I think this means we’re distilling the practice down to people who are comfortable spending more on eyewear. It’s a little counterintuitive, but there’s still a very large population of people who are willing to spend money on eyewear.
What strategies did you use to accomplish this success?
One of the things we learned a long time ago is that it’s difficult to compete in the eyewear market unless you’re doing something different. We choose to be unique, and we source unique and interesting eyewear frames. Where we’re located, in downtown San Diego, we have a really eclectic, artsy crowd. I think we do a great job bringing in interesting eyewear and appealing to a customer base that’s interested in having an eyewear solution that’s a little bit different.
How does that growth impact your practice and your staff?
One of the things we learned, especially under COVID, is that when we get more focused on the “right” patients, and attract the type of people into the office who are attracted to the products and services we offer, we don’t have to do as many eye exams to be financially successful. There used to be such a drive to push those exam numbers, but it turns out that when we’re more selective about the type of patients we target, and we’re marketing in a very particular way to the right patients who want what we offer.
It’s about distilling down your patient base to the type of people who want the products that you offer.
Has that change in pace impacted you personally?
Slowing down, and feeling less rushed has been extremely welcome to me personally. I find that I enjoy my work significantly more. As a matter of fact, we’ve done studies to measure the amount of time that a patient is in the office relative to the amount of revenue generated by the exam. We found that there’s a “sweet spot” right at about 50 minutes. When patients are in the practice for 50 minutes, they’re Revenue per Exam peaks. If they are there longer, the revenue actually declines. I think it’s because they start to become uncomfortable. They may be thinking about their lunch hour, or what they have to do when they leave. Whatever the reason, I think the slower pace has actually resulted in a higher Revenue per Exam.
What are you planning for 2023?
We really have two areas of focus that we’re looking at right now, and rolling into 2023.
1. Improving our billing department
We are working hard at making our billing department to be as efficient as possible. Allowing the Accounts Receivable to get out of hand is really detrimental to the business, and we are working to button those systems up.
2. Systematizing our processes
For the next year, it’s going to be all about efficiency. We’re reviewing everything that we do in the office and asking questions about why and how we do it. Is there a way to systematize or automate it? We want to document our systems properly, and make sure we’re not overly reliant on any one team member.
How will that impact your staff-to-patient interactions?
Systematizing your business will create a culture and an environment that will actually facilitate more positive engagement with our patients. We want to be able to do less busy-work, so we can spend more quality time with them. I see that as a very positive outcome for the patient experience.
What’s your advice to practitioners who are planning for 2023?
When you’re trying to decide what to do, just stop for a minute. Take out a pen and paper and write out what your goals are for the year. Give some serious thought to whatever you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s financial goals, personal goals, culture goals, etc. just get it down on paper. Something happens to crystallize our thoughts when we write them down.
When you have them written out, choose the one thing to focus on right now, and get laser-focused on that one thing. Don’t let everything else overwhelm you. If you choose one single thing for each quarterly, hopefully by the end of the year, you’ll have four major accomplishments for your practice.
About Dr. Mick Kling
Mick Kling, OD is a partner at Invision Eyecare in San Diego, California. This two-location practice supports five providers and 30 team members. They serve patients in eight exam lanes.
Dr. Kling has been using metrics to manage his practice for 25 years. He tracks the practice’s Revenue per Exam regularly. He decided to use metrics because he found it hard to manage the business without being able to answer the question “how am I doing?” accurately. He uses metrics to increase his comfort level and confidence in making management decisions.
“It’s a little counterintuitive, but there’s still a very large population of people who are willing to spend money on eyewear.”