As business people, we are constantly inundated with advertising and offers for programs, software, products and advice that promise to improve our bottom line. Some will catch our attention; some we simply click past. Some we purchase and own; some we have access to through subscriptions we pay for each month. We get a ton of free advice (solicited or unsolicited) and see countless examples of how others are performing some innovative task or employing some new technique. In the end we still come back to the same issues, except now we have an array of expensive solutions, plans and methods, none of which seem to do the trick in moving us forward.
We have all heard of “analysis paralysis,” and we have all experienced it in one way or another. What issue, project or long-term goal has you stuck? What would it mean to you to be able to move forward on this one item?
In consulting with independent optometric practices, I find that many are struggling with issues that just seem intractable. Often, those issues all sprout from the one obstruction that has not been overcome and prohibits the practice from moving forward. How to break the logjam?
Have a role-playing exercise with a trusted friend with no connection to your practice. Ask them to take notes, or consider recording the interview.
Start with this statement: “I would like my practice to move forward, but cannot seem to solve the problem of.…”
- …inadequate or inefficient office space.
- …inadequate staffing.
- …unmotivated or under-skilled staff.
- …inventory control.
- …frame and contact sales.
Next, tell this friend the steps you have taken to address the problem. What was the outcome of each? What obstacles impeded your progress?
Now the hard part:
Have your friend echo your statements back to you and pay close attention to your own thoughts.
The answer will always lie in the words that follow “but…..”
I’m willing to bet that 90% of the time the solution is blocked by one or more actions that you have been hesitant to take due to perceived risk:
- But I’m afraid to take the risk of a move and a new lease.
- But how will I fill my book if I drop VCPs?
- But how will we function shorthanded if I terminate an employee?
- But if I actually count my inventory, I will be overwhelmed with the task of fixing it.
This is where all of those resources we talked about earlier come into play. If you commit to solving just one thing at a time and adopt one path to resolving the problem, you may be pleasantly surprised that the solution was not as painful as you feared.
A few examples:
- It costs nothing to look at alternative locations; work with a realtor who specializes in commercial space.
- Get design advice for that new space or for improving the aesthetics and efficiency of what you have.
- Obtain financial advice about what goals you need to meet to move forward.
- Draft a plan to meet those goals, jump the hurdles and get that space you need.
- Work with an HR professional to determine whether your staffing issue is one of quantity (number of staff) or quality (productivity, skill and motivation).
- Commit to utilizing the HR resource to its fullest and to following their recommendations through to completion.
- Remain patient. People problems are always the hardest; commit to listening to and acting on the solid advice of a professional.
- Work with an optical management consultant to develop a plan for counting, rotating, and monitoring inventory.
- Select and implement an inventory tracking system (you are probably already paying for one now through your PMS).
- Make an honest assessment of the extensive time involved in tackling an inventory issue; it may be tedious and time-consuming, but it will be well worth the effort and will save time at the end.
- Work with an optical management consultant to
- develop a comprehensive training plan for current staff as well as new hires;
- utilize data to determine your top items (in volume and profit);
- develop an incentive program that rewards your staff for excellent customer service (not necessarily in terms of dollars & cents!)
- create a health, team-oriented atmosphere.
If you are an IDOC Select or Advisor member, you have a trusted partner with the resources to help you get past the most stubborn obstacles. It would be my pleasure to speak with you about these issues or any others that the IDOC Consulting Team can help you with.
IDOC Optical Management Consultant