What was your biggest challenge in 2022?
I’m sure we’re not the only ones who faced it, but there’s been a complete shift in mindset to a work-from-home mindset. It’s extremely challenging, and it really cannot be supported by the eyecare industry. So you have to work hard to identify the right team members and differentiate yourself in your practice.
1. Flexible scheduling
One thing we wanted to do was provide some flexibility for people in their work schedule. We did that by creating a four-day work week that allows us to see the same number of patients and provide the same level of care. People seem to really enjoy having that flexibility. They have Wednesdays off, so they can set their doctor appointments, do all of their errands. It also makes it easier for us because we don’t have folks calling in as often to take care of personal business.
2. Personality assessments
Another tool we use is assessments to help us identify who really is right to be part of our practice team. We also want to be able to compensate them correctly, so we’ve put in a profit-sharing program to help these folks act more like business owners than employees.
3. Profit-sharing program
That program is based on net income, and divides it evenly among the team members. Every month there’s a bonus, so our staff members really begin to understand how their performance ties into the bottom line. We’re hearing these little conversations, like “we don’t want to spend that, let’s look for a better option.”
In reviewing your metrics for 2022, what went really well?
This has been our fourth record year in a row. Our schedule is consistently filled, and we still manage to see patients for same-day appointments. That’s one thing that really differentiates us from our competitors.
Another item we’re very happy with is our capture rate. It tends to run between 75% and 80%, which is great. We’ve done a couple of things to really help move that along.
1. Package rates
We’ve created some very attractive package rates for our products. That helps keep patients from leaving the practice with their prescriptions, and gets them into good products.
2. Good reviews for good care
We are still providing a good level of care, and getting great reviews for the practice, so that helps a lot also.
Can you share a specific success?
Our collection numbers continue to improve. Not just top-line revenue, but the percentage that we collect is also improving. Some of that is the result of what our team is doing. They work really well together, and they understand how what they do ties into the success of the practice. They join industry groups on social media, and continue to learn and grow.
How has cash flow impacted the practice?
Collections moves right into cash flow. If you’re improving your collections percentage, the problems with cash flow just go away. The easiest way to look at our cash flow success is to notice how many times a day the practice owners mention cash flow. Several years ago, that was three or four times a day. It just doesn’t get brought up anymore. I think that’s the easiest way to measure that success. It’s not a concern. There’s a consistent flow of cash coming into the practice.
What are you planning to focus on in 2023?
Next year, we’re going to continue to focus on what we do really well. When we review our benchmarks, our capture rate is high, and so are our collections. We’re in the top few percent on those. With that being said, we’re always looking to identify new options, new technology for patient care, and the potential for expansion. We know our model could bring good eye care to some underserved communities, so that’s something we’re always interested in.
We’re going to continue to focus on our key business drivers. What I’ve done is a little different. I use the numbers all the time. I look at metrics, I look for patterns, and so on. But I don’t make rash decisions based on changes from day-to-day. You have to look at the bigger picture. What I do is identify what numbers are important to the business, then I make the team members responsible for those numbers. Whichever is closest to the business functions they’re responsible for is given to them and they own it.
I know there are practices where the team members don’t really understand what those numbers mean, they don’t understand how it impacts the business. They need to be invested in the process to ensure the success of the practice. So we identify the key business drivers, and share a regular report with the team. Each of those numbers has an owner, and everyone can see how they’re trending week-to-week on their individual tasks. Coupled with our profit-sharing program, they can tie that bigger picture together from end-to-end.
What are your key business drivers?
Some of our key business drivers are really simple, like the number of recalls or referrals. How many new patient exams is another one. We follow optical and clinical sales, but we keep it simple. We want those numbers that relate to what our people do on a daily basis. I can always drill down for more detail if I need to, like finding the results for anti-reflective coating sales per person. Whatever number helps people grow, or helps me have a conversation with someone who needs to make progress in a specific area.
What’s your advice to business managers who are planning for 2023?
The team members need to feel that they’re part of the success of the practice. The more they’re engaged they are, the more they can correlate their tasks and the care they provide to the patients, the more they will help build the business.
My biggest advice is use the numbers, but share the numbers. Be transparent and talk to your team. Believe me, they know more than any of us about what’s going on on a daily basis. The more you talk to them, the more they’ll help you move the needle and take the business where you want to go.
About Frank Tuffy
Frank is the business manager for Lakeside Vision in Hawley, PA. He oversees business operations for the single location practice, including two part-time providers and ten team members. They currently have four exam lanes.
Frank’s background is in banking and finance, so he’s been using metrics for over 35 years. In his role at the practice, he follows Collections per Exam very closely. He decided to engage with the practice analytics when he realized the practice was using metrics, but didn’t have enough clarity about them. His initial goal was to get the team members more engaged, to help them act more like business owners than employees.
“I look at metrics, I look for patterns, and so on. But I don’t make rash decisions based on changes from day-to-day. You have to look at the bigger picture.”