Should You Become A Eyecare Consultant?

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doug-johnson.squarespace.com

We have had emails from a experienced eyecare professionals, who wanted to break into the teaching, speaking and consulting business in eyecare. I thought I would write this post and anytime someone asks again.. well here is the answer.

Both Shirley and I have been consultants and we both do some if we have the time. Before I begin, I want to say this, consulting is hard work. When I started consulting, my specialty was inventory management and sales training.  I had already been doing it for years as rep for free and when I moved to another state, I decided to take it on the road. I had speaking engagements and did some seminars, at the time there was NO email and it was labor intensive.  Those were the days of typewriters and expensive long distance calls. Shirley specialized in marketing, licensing  for large companies and even though she knew a lot of people, it was still hard work.

Here is my #1 advice, DON’T Quit your day job. While I had work, in order to make it grow, I needed to be networking smarter and needed money to live on. Another piece of advice which I did not heed, was follow the money. I worked on projects with an HR guy and wanted to branch out more to the Independents and his word of advice, they won’t spend the money and they won’t like what you have to say.

Some people have ‘lucked’ into a consultant- advisory position, some have served on a boards, other have just helped out friends. Kudos to them for that. In order to grow your consulting,  you need to have a continuous pipeline of prospects. Just like any sales rep. You will be selling, only this time you are selling expert self. It never stops with one sale. Remember you are on 24/7. You will get that phone call at 10 pm or 6 am, like I did the other morning.

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mrdanadams.com

The first step is decide what you want to consult on. Define your area of expertise and you must become an expert in that field. Do you want to get into financial management, human resources, medical, billing and coding, marketing, (press releases, social media, advertising), communication, technology and the buying and selling of practices, sales training and managed care. Those are just a few arenas of the consulting business.

After you have defined your consulting focus, determine:

  • What licenses do you need?
  • What local, state and national associations do you belong to?
  • What professional associations do you belong to?
  • Where are you going to network? Networking is 24/7.
  • What social media platforms will you be engaged in?
  • What type of website, blog will you start? Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and a blog are the top platforms for consultants.
  • What are you long and short term goals?
  • What is your marketing strategy. WRITE IT Down.

Getting Noticed: There are several ways to get the word out and this takes time, a lot time.

Speaking engagements; Did you know that public speaking is one of the top most feared things to do? If you are a good speaker, speaking in front of a group is great way to to demonstrate your expertise. To hone your skills, start speaking at your local schools, Toastmasters and local societies. In the beginning you may or may not get paid. But you get the experience, develop skills and materials as well as determine whether this is the right venue for you.

Eyecare Speakers get paid from $200/ hour. Most speakers at optical trade shows get $400.00 per hour. Sounds like a lot of money.. Well breaking it down, you spend about 4-5 hours to write the seminar, then you have to send in for approval to CE, ABO, NCLE, COPE..etc. It also may cost you. After you have written the program, you start contacting local and national educational trade shows and submit, submit, and submit again your ‘seminar’. Most trade shows, will not just take 1 course. If they are flying you in and putting you up they generally want 4-6 hours of CE. That means you have to have 4-6 hours of seminars.

Before I forget, you must-should become an approved speaker and fill out the forms. Contact local eyecare groups, AOA, ABO, COPE, etc.. to get on their speaker list.

If you are so lucky they hire you. Now you have to put the seminar in Power Point format for the seminar. You will also need iPad or laptop, and all the accessories that go with it to make a presentation. You have to get there and stay there. All of sudden that check for $1200 means you are working for about $5.00 an hour, UNLESS, you can give that same seminar over and over again.

Writing: – Many of the consultants you see now started off writing. In fact all of most of our ‘guest’ authors have picked up some type of consulting or speaking gigs. You can write for blogs like ours, (We welcome most guest posts) trade press, even Huffington Post, online medical journals. Once you write, your name gets out there. Look at Brian Boxler Wachler, he is on TV on Huff post, YouTube Channels, a press agency. Kevin MD another high profile doctor with a blog.

You can get paid for writing, but most want to see what you can do first, which is why the first 5-10 articles you write are usually for free. Starting your own blog should be your first priority and then start submitting to your local paper and magazine, trade press etc.. You need to get printed and linked. Perfect examples are Justin Bazan, Alan Glazier and Nate Bonilla Warford. All started out with blogs, which led into Social Media expertise and voila, they are now speakers and writers and or act on consulting boards.

We have listed a few Practice Management Blogs from optometrist   (For this purpose, I have only included blogs by Optometrists)

  • Optometry Practice Marketing: Written by Amy LaVange, is a nice practice management blog, except, she has Not Keep it up. I don’t know if she is in business anymore.
  • Optometry CEO– another practice management blog who has hooked up with several companies.
  • The Optometric Billing Spot– This is a blog about billing and coding.
  • Dominick Maino– has been blogging for years. He is a speaker
  • Steve Vargas OD: Has two sites Tech OD and OD Success (new)
  • Jeff Anshel OD:  writes and optometry blog on Healio.
  • Richard Hom OD has been writing for years on tips4eyedocs.com 

Teaching: There are some people that like to teach. If you are near a local school, ask them. There are adult education courses, community colleges and optometry schools. Ask them first, if there is a position open.

Develop Your Own Product: As an example, Jay Binkowitz is a licensed optician and together with Evan Kestenbaum, started The Edge an optical practice management software. He has networked with us, trade press, and other optical vendors. He speaks, writes, mentors, does webinairs and let me tell you he is very visible. He is a Networking King. In addition, he brought on Rebecca Johnson, an Eyecare trainer consultant, who also developed her own training Flash Cards.

Social Media: Social Media is very important to get started. Become active in the many Facebook Forums, Linked In Forums. Don’t be a lurker, participate, make comments, LIKE the comments. Make sure you have a FACEBOOK page. Get involved in G+, get your name out there.

Synergize with Like Minded Peers: It is very tough to go at it alone. It is a lonely business. Ask if you can hook up, be an advisor, write for them if appropriate. There are optical speakers bureau on Optiboard and on Facebook. Speak with people who are on advisory boards, already speaking. Don’t limit yourself to eyecare professionals.

Pricing– That is a tough one. I just came off a job in which I underbid. I think I ended up working for about $2.00/hour. You can bid by the job or by the hour. You can be budget or you can be expensive. Pricing will come with time and experience.

Competition: There is a lot of competition out here. You should check them all out and make a spreadsheet on what they do, how much do they charge, what is their business model. How are they marketing themselves.

Last words of advice:

  • Have a tough skin. You will be rejected more than you think and yes it does hurt and you will get hurt and angry. But you have to get over yourself.
  • You have to let the EGO go. It is not about you, it is about helping others solve problems.
  • To make it work, be disciplined in setting aside time to write, to network.
  • Get out of the house and or office. Go to your meetings, meet new people, pass out your cards. Get connected.
  • Plan on at least a year of dedicated focus on achieving your goals.
  • Make up a list of ‘contacts’ and touchstones and keep in touch.
  • Continually subscribe to appropriate online journals to bring new knowledge and ways of doing things. You should be reading a lot.

If you are interested in learning whether or not you should hire a Consultant, check out our post here.

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SILMO PARIS 20-23 September 2024