Are you a practicing optometrist who has spent years working at a hospital? Perhaps, you’re yearning for more opportunities to put your experience and skills to good use. Alternatively, you might have just passed out of medical school and are exploring avenues to make your mark as a new-age optometrist.
In either case, you’ve likely considered launching a private optometry practice. When done correctly, starting an optometry business is going to be more rewarding and profitable than working for someone else. After all, there’s nothing better than providing top-notch care to your own patients.
However, running an optometry practice comes with a cornucopia of challenges that medical school doesn’t quite prepare you for. Between procuring the right equipment and training your staff, it’s easy to lose sight of why you started your optometry business in the first place.
That’s why in this blog, we’ve outlined a few useful strategies to help you successfully launch and grow an optometry business. Let’s get started.
Build Your Supports
Here’s the thing – starting an optometry business requires you to acquire and hone your entrepreneurial skills. This is something your med school curriculum likely didn’t cover. That’s why it is important to build a support network of professionals who can help you on your journey.
Knowing you’re not alone is a huge part of setting up your business, and joining an eye care group (we like PECAA) is a great way to building community and even save money on many of your business purchases.
Through various in-person and online events, you get to interact with like-minded eye care professionals. This, in turn, gives you an opportunity to discuss the challenges your business is facing and learn from other optometrists. You can even seek expert consultation on specific subjects, such as accounting, legal, etc.
Also, when you become a member of an organization, like PECAA, you get to avail of generous discounts from industry-standard vendors. This can go a long way to minimize initial investment for your optometry business.
Another effective way of building a support system is to loop in primary care physicians in your area. Ask them to recommend patients with eye-related issues to your practice. Also, make sure you update them about the patient’s present condition and treatment. It’ll encourage them to refer more patients to you in the future.
Prioritize Patient Satisfaction
A seamless customer experience is the foundation of any successful service-based business. Your optometry practice isn’t an exception to this ground-rule. If you want to acquire new patients and retain the existing ones, you must focus on providing high-quality service.
Start by training your staff to deal with different types of patients. Also, work on the look and feel of your clinic, paying extra attention to common touchpoints, such as the reception and waiting room. The key is to make every patient feel at ease the moment they step inside your clinic.
Apart from providing patients with the required treatment, make sure you take the time to explain their diagnosis. You could use illustrations and videos to help them understand their medical condition and treatment plan. Moreover, having a staff member check on them after consultation is essential.
Or you could go the extra mile and personally check your patients. Make sure you use modern communication apps and online portals to stay connected with patients, as these have shown to increase patient engagement by at least 60%.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to seek feedback from existing patients. This can go a long way to help you identify and improve any shortcomings in your practice. Also, it’ll make your patients feel valued and boost retention.
Don’t Ignore the Business Side of Your Practice
Providing high-quality patient care is something that you’ve been trained to do. But there’s more to running an optometry business. For instance, you might have to draft legal agreements that patients need to sign before undergoing specific treatments.
Likewise, you’ll have to monitor the cash flow in your business to ensure you’re making more dollars than you’re spending. It’s just as crucial to establish a dedicated HR department to address demands and grievances from staff members.
If you aren’t well-versed with the nitty-gritty of running a business, you could consider joining a short-term online course. Alternatively, you could recruit consultants in various departments and delegate key responsibilities. As your business grows, you should consider creating individual departments with dedicated heads.
Focus on Your Online Presence
You can build an optometry business in 2021 without creating a strong and active online presence. To begin with, you’ll need a fast, secure, and user-friendly website for your optometry practice.
Apart from showcasing business information, the website should let patients book appointments, make payments, and access their electronic health records (EHRs). Make sure you optimize your website content using relevant keywords. You could also use pay-per-click advertising to promote your business website on search engines.
Lastly, don’t forget to create your presence on various social media platforms. Instead of blatantly promoting your business, you could share valuable eye-care tips for patients. It’ll establish you as an expert in optometry and help you earn the trust of new patients.
What strategies have you used to kickstart your optometry practice? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.