Time and time again I have seen, and experienced, practices that continue their bad habits. They do because it’s comfortable and it’s what they’re used to. Guess what – this isn’t helping your practice or the bottom line. Get out of the rut you’re in and commit to making some changes; I guarantee you’ll see improvements. If you take things one step at a time it will be manageable, I promise. This isn’t an article complaining about people or things being done wrong, it just doesn’t make sense that people keep wasting the same amount of time on the same thing, over and over again. Making things more efficient and being wiser about process and product will ultimately save time, money, and frustrations.
Mismanaged Frame Boards
Do you know how long your frames have been on display in your office? You should. If you have frames sitting that aren’t selling, you’re wasting space on something that could be sold, again, and again, something that is more exciting and sellable that could generate more sales. Typically when my reps visit if a frame has been on the board between 9-12 months I send it back. It has not sold in nearly a year. If it doesn’t sell, get it off of the valuable sales floor space – trade it out for other frames of the same vendor, or if it’s too old to trade back then clearance it out.
On the other hand, when you sell a frame right away (sometimes even the same day it comes in) you should be reordering it so you can sell it again! You don’t have to order every frame right away, as soon as you sell it… collect the fast-sellers, and as soon as you have a handful OR you have to order from that vendor for a one-off patient order, add the previous fast-seller to the order. I have had some frames arrive from a rep visit, and from the day it arrives for the first time to the time the rep comes in for their next visit, that one frame has sold 15 times because I kept getting it back in stock. It’s a hot seller – keep it in stock so you can keep selling it!
I’m not going to pretend to be a billing expert but I do know you need to collect everything you can. Don’t simply write things off to zero them out. Figure out why you’re writing it off and prevent it from happening repeatedly.
Frame and lens lab billings can also be a money suck. It is usually worth the time to spend a few hours reconciling statements and invoices each month as the savings will add up. A few things I’ve come across in my time are that frame companies do not always give your promised discount on every invoice. They also should not charge shipping on products that are shipped separately because they were on backorder. As for labs, did you actually receive that multiple pair discount, a volume discount, or the promised price for a lens or coating? If any of these things are wrong on an invoice, collect them all up at the end of the month and call them to have it corrected. Sometimes it can be a one time fix that corrects it from this point on, sometimes you’ll have to call every month. Depending on what is going on, this can add up to thousands and thousands of dollars per year.
Lens Design Choices
In no way am I telling you should EVER box in an Optician and tell them what lenses to choose, or that they may only choose from a specific set of lenses! However, if the selling staff can agree on certain lenses to sell more of, what is better for the demographics in your area, etc then you can negotiate better rates and higher discounts from your labs AND rebates from the manufacturer. The great labs even allow the same rebates on managed care jobs (yes, for real).
Administrative Time Sucks
Please don’t waste time printing out the same form over and over again; We’re in the ages of electronic medical records. Laminate that form you print over and over again, once it’s filled out then scan it into the patient record, clean the page and use it again! I realize that every office operates differently so what you should do is go through a few working days and pay attention to what you are doing over and over again. Those tasks that you have to tend to over and over again, think of how you could save time on that task. Your answer shouldn’t be “we’ve always done it this way” – you should be thinking about how it can be done easier or more efficiently. If you are unsure how to make something better you can join some sort of industry social group and get opinions, or even comment here and I’ll try to help 🙂
When you do the same thing every day it shouldn’t feel like a thorn in your side, it should be completed easily and without frustration. On another note, excessive change is unnecessary, you don’t need to change a process in your office every day or week – that too can waste time unnecessarily. ALSO: excess change is bad – if it works don’t fix it, things need to be a well-oiled machine.