In recent years, it seems there’s been significant growth in the number of eyecare professionals (ECPs) that are joining buying groups and doctor alliances. The benefit of groups can go well beyond the financial savings of using preferred products. It presents an opportunity to learn about practice management, but more importantly for ECPs to share ideas with one another to improve their practices.
By setting up small groups, the exchange of ideas can flow freely. Think of a colleague with a successful practice and how you could benefit if you knew more about the “ins and outs” of that practice. A group of five to 10 or more owners sharing practice pearls can be very valuable to help take your practice to the next level. There’s an abundance of topics to discuss: managing staff, marketing successes and failures, and optical sales, just to name a few. Even experienced owners are likely to learn a few tips about hiring staff, employee compensation, and policies and procedures for the office.
The discussions you have could give you the confidence to move forward with adding new services such as orthokeratology or a dry eye center. If you’re a growing practice it can be beneficial to learn how other doctors added an associate optometrist and what have they done successfully to fill that new doctor’s schedule. How did colleagues come up with associate agreements and what was creating a partnership contract like?
We all want to spend our marketing dollars wisely, but we often have very little idea on how to advertise and create a brand. Learning from the success of others can be key. In addition, with so much focus on social media and internet reviews, how another practice is succeeding with positive reviews and high search rankings can be shared.
A key element to this sharing of ideas and learning is how you can move forward and implement things. One problem most ECPs have when they return from a meeting is setting the wheels in motion for new ideas. Once they are back to seeing patients, the day-to-day hectic pace takes over and nothing new gets implemented. If your new group sets deadlines to report back to one another and you’re each held accountable to share your progress, hopefully you will feel compelled to make the changes you set out to make.
ERIC L. BRAN, OD, PROFESSIONAL EDITOR