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  February 6, 2013

Five Simple Practice Building Ideas

By John Marvin

Since taking over as president/CEO of Texas State Optical, John Marvin has grown the member-owned cooperative to 126 locations and the 10th largest on Vision Monday's Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers. (Read the Eye-trepreneur feature about Marvin and Texas State Optical in the Jan. 2013 edition of dba.) In this excerpted presentation from the Seeing is Believing virtual conference held Jan. 30-31 2013, Marvin presents five simple practice building techniques that his network of optometrists have found successful and that could be easily and effectively implemented by every optometrist practicing within any mid-size regional/local optometric group.

If understood and put into practice, the following five ideas can significantly change any practice and make it realize its full potential.

1. Take 100 Percent Responsibility
One of the most pervasive myths among optometrists is that because they did well in school, passed the boards, are licensed by their state or are board certified, they're entitled to success. There's only one person responsible for the quality of your professional and personal life, and that one person is you. If you want to have a successful, profitable practice, you have to take 100 percent responsibility.

Today, all you have to do is go to your local society meeting, your state association convention or get together for a study group, and sooner or later there's someone who'll begin to blame third party payers for the fact that you aren't able to make any money. Another will blame the contact lens industry for making it impossible to make money selling contacts, and it won't be long before someone says something to the effect that everybody will be buying online anyway so it doesn't really matter what I do. Most of us have been conditioned to blame others for any disappointment we have in our lives, and the practice of optometry is no different. It's time to stop looking elsewhere.

2. The Importance of Being Clear
Why are you an optometrist? How do you define your professional purpose? If you cannot readily answer these questions with intensity and passion then you've got work to do. For it is purpose that will guide you in all you do. It is purpose that will serve as the fabric of your office culture, what causes others of like mind to join you.

An interesting thing that I do when I meet with young optometrists who contact me about opening a new practice and joining the Texas State Optical network is to ask them why they chose to become an optometrist. What is interesting is that almost without exception how they answer that question tells me how successful they will be and whether or not they're going to be a good fit for our network. Knowing why you are doing something is far more important than knowing how.

When you understand why you practice optometry you will draw to yourself the resources, people, patients and the knowledge of what you are to do. It all falls into place.

3. Decide What It Is You Want
The indispensible first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what it is that you want out of life. That's a quote from Ben Stein the actor and author. It's true isn't it? Once you've decided why you are practicing optometry, you must decide what it is you want from the practice, your career, your staff. What do you want to accomplish? What do we want to practice? Who do we want to practice with? What type of practice do you want?

4. Unleash the Power of Goal Setting
Once you know your purpose for practicing optometry and have decided what it is you want in your practice, then you must convert them into specific measurable goals. These have to be clearly defined, described without ambiguity and clearly visualized. The human brain is a powerful organism that once fixated on a goal in your subconscious will work night and day to make these goals a reality.

In order for a goal to unleash the power of your subconscious mind it must meet two criteria, how much and when. It must be written down and described in such a way that another person can look at the result and know whether or not the goal was reached. For example, to state a goal as "increase my sales by 10 percent" is not the same as "my practice will generate a total of $910,500 in sales by December 31, 2013." On December 31, another person could come to your practice and look at the total amount of sales generated for the year and know whether or not they total $910,500 or not.

When you set a goal with specificity in terms of how much and by when you are placing your order with your subconscious mind. When this is done then you will have unleashed a power that will pursue its achievement each and every day. The more you visualize it, repeat it, share it, the more power you unleash.

Set goals that will stretch you and your practice, motivate and excite you and your staff. Goals should excite you, cause you to learn new skills, develop new habits, build new relationships.

When you've decided on what your goals will be and written them down, it's time to share them with your team. Keep them visible. Review them at weekly and monthly meetings. Report on the progress you're making toward reaching your goals. This repetitive review of your goals will draw others to help in reaching it. You'll begin to attract the necessary resources to achieve your goals. It is as if all of your practice's energy and focus will begin to bring about all that is needed to reach your goal.

5. Take Action
The marketplace does not pay you for what you know, what you've learned or the knowledge you've gained at meetings. The marketplace only pays for what you do. Successful practices are action oriented practices. When you take action, you unleash a series of activities that will lead you to reach your goal. Too many times doctors will attend meetings where they are exposed to new learning, new ideas and decide that they want to change things. When they return on a Monday morning, instead of gathering their staff together and putting changes in place, they worry that the staff will think, "Here we go again! He's been to a meeting. This won't last long. All we have to do is wait it out, and this will go away just like all the other great ideas." So what happens? Nothing. The difference between successful practices and those stuck in mediocrity is that successful practices take action.

Most people spend their entire career getting ready to make changes because there are always reasons that today is not the best day to get started. Taking action solves a lot of problems. A boat with its sail raised can catch the wind and move in a specific direction. Otherwise it simply drifts whichever way the tide flows.


John Marvin is president and chief executive officer of Texas State Optical. This article is excerpted from his presentation, "A Practical Guide for Making 2013 the Best Year in Practice," at the Seeing is Believing 2013 virtual conference held Jan. 30-31, 2013. Access is still available online to all of Seeing is Believing's 48 presentations.

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