Post by Affiliate: Mercantile
Best Practices for Your Practice: Checklist
The business side of running an opticianry practice is a full-time job (and then some), and if you’re like most opticians, you’re doing it in addition to a full schedule of seeing patients. You’re so busy that it can be easy to miss details that could be helping your business to be more profitable, or things that you might be paying more for than you need to.
Office supplies, staff, and frame and contact lens inventory are all essential parts of your business, and all can be complex in terms of their costs and return on investment. Here are some key elements to keep an eye on—pun intended—and some tips (and action items) to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
1. Continually check to make sure you’re getting the best pricing.
When was the last time you assessed the prices you’re paying for contact lenses, or frames, for example, against your sales volume? Have you found that you’re dispensing one particular contact lens more than before? Or maybe you’re selling (and ordering) a lot more of one particular line of frames—or several lines that are all sold by the same vendor.
If your volume has increased, or shifted in a way that you’re ordering more of certain items, it’s likely you can qualify for a better pricing tier.
It also makes sense to look at ancillary costs. Shipping charges are one common culprit. For example, if you’re ordering contact lenses and solutions directly from their respective manufacturers, you might be paying many separate shipping charges each week or month.
Maybe there’s a distributor who carries all of those lenses and supplies, so you can order everything together—which minimizes not only shipping costs but also time spent ordering, if you’re only logging into or calling one source instead of several.
✅ Set a calendar reminder to review your pricing against ordering and potential discounts every quarter.
2. Market your opticianry practice.
How do your patients find you? The bulk of patients find opticians through Yelp, or Google. But along with your practice, there are scores of others that come up in those search results. So it can be helpful to look at ways to set your practice apart, and help patients find you more easily. There are several ways to do this:
Business review sites: There are simple (and free) steps to take, if you haven’t already, to use these sites. Create a Google my Business page for your practice, and add all the information you can about your services and your hours. Adding photos of your office and your staff is also a great way to create a strong profile.
The same goes for Yelp—be sure you’ve claimed your profile, and add up-to-date info on hours and what you offer. You also might want to ask your happiest and most loyal patients to leave a review.
Social media: It may be helpful to create a Facebook page for your practice. If you do, asking patients to ‘like’ your page can be useful, so that their friends can see it. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest are not necessary unless you or a member of your staff are very social media-savvy and want to post frequent updates and pictures.
Online ads: It’s relatively simple and inexpensive to run some ads on Google search (where you can make sure you show up at the top of search results when a potential patient searches for opticians in your area). Or you might try running ads on Nextdoor, where ads for local businesses can be very effective.
Local advertising: Benches, shopping carts, and similar can be a great way to get your practice out there in front of potential patients. Similarly, if there are neighborhood newsletters or local newspapers or magazines in your area, you might try running an ad there.
✅ Ask new patients how they found you, and consider putting more resources into those channels.
✅ Build out your practice’s social media profiles with photos and basic information (e.g. Facebook, Google my Business, and Yelp).
3. Keep patient relationships strong/engaged.
There is nothing more valuable to building your practice than happy patients. They’ll keep coming back, but more importantly they will bring their family members and refer friends and coworkers. In addition to the obvious things, like providing an excellent experience every time they come to your office, think of ways you can keep them engaged and stay top of mind.
One way to do this is an email newsletter—maybe monthly, or quarterly. You can include an article sharing your expertise on a particular eye health-related topic, and maybe highlight a new line of frames you’ve just started to carry, for example.
✅ Set up a monthly or quarterly email newsletter.
4. Use tools that save you time and money.
In a busy opticianry practice—or any other type of business—it’s easy to keep doing things the way you always have. But even if the status quo is working well enough, it’s important to periodically examine changes to processes or technology that can save you time and money.
One example is practice management software. Change of any sort can be challenging, but it’s worth looking into the most popular platforms—and asking your colleagues what they’re using and how they like it—every 12-24 months.
✅ Review the tools you’re using, and other solutions that might provide valuable efficiency, at least every 1-2 years.
5. Look into business credit cards that provide cash back and rewards.
Because a typical opticianry practice spends a significant amount of money each month on things like frames and contact lenses, the right business credit card can allow you to earn significant rewards and cash back. It also might provide benefits like optimal pricing—similar to a buying group—by offering you discounts they’ve negotiated based on their cardholders’ combined purchasing power.
It’s worth comparing things like rewards and cash back you can earn with various cards, while of course looking carefully at annual fees and interest rates. If you find the right card (with low or no annual fees, and a reasonable interest rate if you carry a balance), it can be a great way to earn some good returns on the money you’re already spending each month—whether that’s earning cash back that you can reinvest into your practice, or providing points you can use on airfare and hotels for your next vacation.
✅ Assess your practice’s monthly spend, and see what you could be earning from a rewards card like the opticianry-specific OAA Card *. The calculator on this page is a great way to start!
* Conditions apply. Subject to approval. Mercantile Financial Technologies, Inc. is a financial technology company, not a bank. The OAA Credit Cards are issued by Hatch Bank pursuant to a license from Mastercard. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Review the cardholder agreement here.
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