It would be nice if there were one simple solution to all our practice problems.......a magic bullet that would improve sales and profitability. Sometimes we can get a win and a particular strategy will make a big difference to our practice, but more often than not it’s about the little things.
Small businesses can be complicated creatures. They handle complicated issues and provide complex products, delivered by clever and complicated people. And there are lots of things happening. All at once, every day. Are we surprised that success lies in the detail?
There are so many little things. Where do we begin? Well first we need to work out what needs attention and what can be left for another day. We can’t fix everything at once and most practices have limited time, people and money.
It’s important to treat your business like your clients. Don’t assume and start fresh with a comprehensive examination. This is particularly valid if you are inside the business. One well know entrepreneur once described Australian optometrists as “boiled frogs” referring to the well know Boiled Frog Syndrome business analogy. Basically frogs being cold blooded creatures don’t notice change in surrounding temperatures until it’s too late. You have worked in your practice for a while and what could be a potential problem, for you might appear to be “business as usual”. So take a step back and look at things with a rational eye. You can do this. You do it every day with your clients.
Get everyone in the business to provide their input. They all have ideas. Ask them to make a “Fairy List”. If you had a magic wand and could fix six things in the practice what would they be?
If you are going to make changes let’s make sure that we do the improvements that will matter to your patients. After all, they are paying for all of this. Anything that adds to the level of information or knowledge that patients have about your service and products is an excellent thing. This will help them make effective decisions about what they need and want from you, and will also help them understand why you are different. Then prioritise the list and make the changes happen. Actually this can be the hardest bit of improving your practice. Consistently we see the most successful practices all over the country are the ones that are very good at implementing change. Whether it be a big change or a little one, they make sure it happens and sticks.
It’s also better if the changes you make are appreciated by your clients. They are the ones who will ultimately judge you and pay for your dinner.
Merchandising is a particularly productive area for small changes. Try shifting your product range to different positions in the business and see what happens. Get a nice new poster frame. The A4 size is about $15 and you’ll be surprised how much more professional the practice will look. And while you’re there, change those busted and yellowing light globes. For less than $100 you can make a huge difference to how the business looks and feels. Go wild and spend another $20 on something that smells nice. Aroma is a powerful sense so be careful, but this can be as good as repainting the place (for a while anyway!). Have a tidy up. How obvious is that? But so often it’s not done.
Financial performance is also about the little improvements. There are several important key performance indicators for your practice that can be easily accessed through the business software reports. There are lots of wins for the patients and the practice that can be achieved to reach a particular goal. A snippet of information here, a comment there, a poster replaced and things will change.
So look for the little wins that matter. They are all over the place. They are easy to fix, don’t cost much and don’t take much time. Do a few every week and after a little while you will look back and see that overall you have made a huge difference to your business