Maximizing Employee Productivity for Optometric Practice Success

September 28, 2023

In an optometric practice, like any business, owner and employee productivity can make or break your success.

Today I want to dive into this topic, and show you the steps that practice owners can take to increase productivity among their associates. 

We’ll also get into the significance of front-of-practice activities, such as optical and front desk operations, and the importance of distilling the big practice goals down into measurable actions that each team member can take ownership of over the course of the year.

Let’s dive in!

Associate vs Owner Productivity

To begin, it is essential for both practice owners and associates to have clear goals in mind. 

Associates must understand their own objectives, whether it’s just to have a stable job or strive for higher income. 

Practice owners, on the other hand, need to be aware of the different expectations that come with higher income goals. 

Realistically, associates who aim for higher income must prove their worth to the business and take ownership of their performance.

A few factors that influence this:

  1. Goals dictate pay. One of the key factors that differentiate associate and owner productivity is the goals they have for their careers. Associates who simply want a good job, go home, and see patients can still be well-paid for their services. However, if an associate aspires to higher income, they must be aware that it comes with different expectations from the practice owner. To earn a higher income, associates need to be worth more to the business, which may require taking on additional responsibilities or even considering practice ownership.
  2. Who drives results? When it comes to production incentives, it’s essential to ask this question. In many cases, the owner plays a significant role in driving production. They are responsible for filling the associate’s schedule and ensuring a steady flow of patients. While this may work well for some associates, it’s important to reflect on whether you are truly driving the business or simply doing what the owner asks. Taking ownership of your role and actively contributing to the success of the practice can lead to greater financial rewards.
  3. The role of the owner. In my experience, I have found that around 90% of the time, the production is a function of the owner’s efforts. They are the ones driving the business forward and creating opportunities for associates to thrive. While this may not be true in every case, it’s important to evaluate your own situation and determine whether you are relying solely on the owner to fill your schedule or if you are actively contributing to the growth and success of the practice.
  4. Taking ownership of your career. This means setting clear goals, understanding your worth to the business, and actively driving results. By demonstrating your value and contributing to the success of the practice, you can position yourself for higher income and greater professional fulfillment.

In short, associates who aspire to higher income must be willing to take on additional responsibilities and actively contribute to the success of the practice. 

Increasing Associate Productivity

While associates play a significant role in their own performance and production, it is important to acknowledge that a well-run practice with effective leadership sets the stage for high levels of production. 

Practice owners should focus on filling the schedule, creating appropriate price points, and training the optical team to excel in selling eyewear. 

By providing the necessary support and resources, owners can empower associates to perform at their best.

Here are what I see working for optometrists:

  1. Clearly define goals. To effectively manage associate productivity, both the practice owner and the associate must have a clear understanding of their goals. By aligning goals and expectations, practice owners can create a framework that motivates associates to perform at their best.
  2. Establish production incentives. One effective way to drive associate performance and production is by implementing production incentives. By offering financial rewards based on specific performance metrics, practice owners can create a sense of ownership and motivation among associates. For example, associates who consistently meet or exceed their production targets can be rewarded with bonuses or profit-sharing opportunities. This not only encourages productivity but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the practice.
  3. Streamline staffing. One common mistake made by practice owners is overstaffing on the doctor side. This can significantly impact profitability, as the cost of employing additional doctors eats into the practice’s bottom line. To maximize productivity, carefully assess staffing needs and ensure that the number of doctors aligns with patient demand. By optimizing staffing levels, practice owners can reduce unnecessary expenses and increase profitability.
  4. Implement efficient systems and processes. Efficiency is key to maximizing productivity in any business, and optometric practices are no exception. Practice owners should invest in technology and systems that streamline administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling, billing, and patient record management. By automating these processes, associates can focus more on patient care, leading to increased productivity and improved patient satisfaction.
  5. Provide ongoing training and development. Continual learning and professional development are vital for associates to stay motivated and perform at their best. Practice owners should invest in training programs, workshops, and conferences to enhance the skills and knowledge of their associates. By providing opportunities for growth, practice owners not only increase associate productivity but also create a culture of continuous improvement within the practice.

By clearly defining goals, implementing production incentives, streamlining staffing, implementing efficient systems, and providing ongoing training, practice owners can create an environment that fosters productivity and profitability. As a financial planner and business owner myself, I have seen the transformative impact of these strategies.

Measuring Productivity

When it comes to measuring productivity, best practice is to establish a fair and transparent system. 

A common approach is to offer associates a base salary plus a percentage of their production. 

However, it is important to clarify that this percentage should be based on the associate’s individual production, not the total revenue of the practice. 

This ensures that associates are rewarded for their personal contributions and incentivizes them to strive for higher levels of productivity.

  1. Revenue per exam. Calculate the average revenue generated per comprehensive eye exam. This metric helps you understand the financial impact of each patient visit and can highlight opportunities to increase revenue through upselling or offering additional services.
  2. Patient volume. Track the number of patients seen per day, week, or month. This metric provides insights into the demand for your services and helps you determine if your practice is operating at full capacity. By comparing patient volume to your available appointment slots, you can identify any gaps or inefficiencies in your scheduling.
  3. Average exam time. Measure the average time it takes to complete a comprehensive eye exam. This metric helps you assess the efficiency of your workflow and identify any bottlenecks that may be impacting productivity. By streamlining your exam process, you can increase the number of patients seen without compromising the quality of care.
  4. Revenue per hour. Calculate the revenue generated per hour of patient care. This metric allows you to evaluate the profitability of your practice and identify opportunities to optimize your time and resources. By focusing on high-value services or implementing strategies to increase patient retention, you can maximize your revenue per hour.
  5. Staff utilization. Assess how effectively your staff members are utilized by tracking their productivity and workload. Measure the number of patients each staff member sees per day and compare it to industry benchmarks. This metric helps you identify if you have the right staffing levels and if additional training or support is needed.
  6. Patient satisfaction. While not directly tied to productivity, measuring patient satisfaction is essential for the long-term success of your practice. Monitor patient feedback through surveys or online reviews to gauge their experience and identify areas for improvement. Satisfied patients are more likely to refer others and become loyal customers, contributing to the growth of your practice.

By regularly monitoring these metrics and analyzing the data, you can gain valuable insights into the productivity of your optometric practice. Use this information to make data-driven decisions, implement improvements, and ultimately enhance the profitability and success of your practice.

Front-of-Practice Activities 

In addition to associate productivity, the success of an optometric practice heavily relies on the performance of front-of-practice activities, such as the optical and front desk operations. 

To maximize productivity in these areas, it is crucial for practice owners to distill the big practice goals into measurable and impactful activities that each team member can take ownership of. 

Here are some examples of front-of-practice activities and why they are important:

  1. Coaching and managing associate doctors. Practice owners should take an active role in coaching and managing their associate doctors, especially those who are new to the profession. Regular meetings to discuss patient care, review charts, and provide guidance can help young doctors improve their skills and knowledge. This not only benefits the patients but also creates a sense of support and professional growth for the associate doctors.
  2. Training and development. Encouraging optometrists, especially students, to consider working for ophthalmology or corporate optometry can provide them with valuable training and development opportunities. These settings often offer structured training programs that help optometrists enhance their clinical skills and gain confidence in their abilities. By investing in their professional development, practice owners can ensure that their optometrists are well-equipped to provide high-quality care to patients.
  3. Creating a positive patient experience. At the end of the day, the success of an optometric practice hinges on providing a great patient experience. Practice owners should prioritize activities that contribute to patient satisfaction, such as implementing efficient appointment scheduling systems, ensuring a comfortable and welcoming waiting area, and training staff to deliver excellent customer service. By focusing on the patient experience, practice owners can build a loyal patient base and attract new patients through positive word-of-mouth.
  4. Financial planning and return on investment. Owning an optometric practice involves inherent risks, despite the fairly predictable business model. Practice owners should engage in financial planning activities to mitigate these risks and ensure a satisfactory return on their investment. This includes setting clear financial goals, monitoring key performance indicators, and regularly reviewing the practice’s financial health. By being intentional and proactive in financial planning, practice owners can make informed decisions that support the long-term success and profitability of their practice.

Empowering your team members to take ownership of measurable and impactful improvements can further enhance overall productivity. 

By adopting a clear, intentional approach to employee productivity, optometric practice owners can pave the way for long-term success.

By the way, if you want personalized assistance in achieving your practice goals, book a Triage call with our team today. 

We specialize in helping OD practice owners reduce their tax bill, manage cash flow, and make prudent investment decisions both in and out of their practice. 

Until next time.

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