AAOE delegates attend optical dispensary boot camp

November 8, 2008

Although 40% of eye examinations are performed by ophthalmologists, dispensing ophthalmology practices are not retaining customers, said Arthur De Gennaro, president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, Lexington, SC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues.

Although 40% of eye examinations are performed byophthalmologists, dispensing ophthalmology practices are notretaining customers, said Arthur De Gennaro, president of ArthurDe Gennaro & Associates LLC, Lexington, SC, an ophthalmicpractice management firm that specializes in optical dispensaryissues.

De Gennaro provided an overview of what steps are missing fromdispensing ophthalmology practices in a presentation, titled"Optical Dispensary Boot Camp," at the American Academy ofOphthalmic Executives (AAOE) program.

During his presentation, he described trends in the market thatwill affect ophthalmology practices and dispensaries,specifically the 60 million baby boomers that will enter theMedicare system in the next 3 years. According to the AmericanAcademy of Ophthalmology, the number of patients thatophthalmologists will see in the next 20 years will double,whereas the number of physicians will remain the same.

"You're all going to get busier," De Gennaro said. "You're goingto get bigger [with] more equipment, more doctors, more techs,more opticians, just more people. When you get bigger, you'regoing to have growth problems and you're going need to learn howto deal with those. In your 2- and 5-year strategic plans youneed to begin to address this."

He presented some ways to form a strategic plan including aspectssuch as finances, marketing, sales, and market trends.

"An optical dispensary should set a benchmark to achieve between20% and 40% of the profit," De Gennaro said. "This depends on howefficiently you run the place and what it is that youallocate."

Adding more opticians and technicians to the practice isessential and they will be making more money because they are indemand, he said.

"Get used to the idea that techs will make more, opticians willmake more, everybody's going to make more, except . . . you," DeGennaro said.

An optical dispensary is just like any other retailer that relieson constant evaluation of sales and services. He suggestedintegrating daily flash audit reports and monthly inventoryreports into the practice. Trends also play a part instrategically planning a practice. During the months when salesare expected to be high, De Gennaro advised scheduling people forovertime and when sales are low, he suggested scheduling trainingand vacation.

Internal marketing is an economic and effective way to retainpatients as well as to get the staff involved in the plan.

"Your job is to learn how to market to [patients] what they needto know to feel comfortable to stay with you," De Gennaroconcluded.

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