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How to outsource the optical dispensary without sacrificing profits or control
For ophthalmologists and eye-care practices, the benefits of outsourcing the management of their optical dispensaries are many.
By Joseph Casorio and Kurt Behrle
For many eye-care practices, optical dispensaries can evolve into necessary, yet time-consuming micro-businesses. Several factors contribute to this, including staff training and supervision, inventory management, and lack of accountability.
The most prominent reason, however, may be something more basic. Many ophthalmologists and practice administrators see optical dispensaries as distractions to the more profitable and, of course, more important patient-care aspect of their practices. For them, patient care is their baby, whereas optical dispensaries can seem more like babysitting. One is a natural extension of their craft; the other is a nuisance. Let’s face it: ophthalmologists probably didn’t get into this field to micro-manage optical dispensaries.
Often, this secondary role translates into an optical dispensary that is perceived as a burden rather than a blessing and, as a result, whose operation is reactive rather than proactive. Optical dispensary demands and expectations are met but not exceeded and, hopefully, the operation continues to return reasonable profits while remaining mostly on autopilot. The optical dispensary becomes a matter of “leaving well enough alone.”
In this scenario, the status quo prevails chiefly for one reason: lack of a known viable alternative. Enter optical dispensary management and consulting services.
On the topic of optical dispensaries, two of the most prevalent complaints eye-care practices and ophthalmologists have are:
Telling ophthalmologists that one of these two obstacles can be overcome usually perks up their ears. Telling them that both can be overcome usually brings the expectation of a pending pitch for snake oil. A “win-win” solution seems too good to be true.
But the answer isn’t a magic trick . . . it’s just common-sense economics. By eliciting help with optical dispensary management, ophthalmologists and eye-care practices can see increased profits from their dispensaries while having more time to focus on what they do best-namely, patient care.
For ophthalmologists and eye-care practices, the benefits of outsourcing the management of their optical dispensaries are many. To consider just a few:
Optical dispensary management services provide dispensary opticians and staff with training sessions to ensure clear understanding of proper procedures and any new computer software that the service may incorporate. Performance standards are established for each employee, and a regional manager will be consistently on-site to assure quality control. Regular meetings will be held to discuss new products and technologies as they pertain to lenses, coatings, and other niches, as well as to launch incentives programs that entice staff to meet specific sales goals.
The result is a well-organized and well-educated staff that help fully realize the dispensary’s client-servicing and profit-making potential.
These attributes combine to total what is perhaps the most surprising benefit. The end result of a successful relationship with an optical dispensary management service is the same as with any outsourcing initiative: increased profitability. Eye-care practices are paying optical dispensary management services to find enough new efficiencies and cost savings that, when bundled together, not only cover the fee but raise optical dispensary profits. The right service will raise an eye-care practice’s dispensary profits to a point far exceeding its fee, leaving the practice with a higher dispensary bottom line even after the fee is factored in.
Over the past decade, the optical dispensary management and consulting industry has seen double-digit percentage growth and continues to trend upward. What was once an ultra-niche industry has grown considerably-not just because the need is there, but because the results are as well.
Joseph Casorio and Kurt Behrle are principals and co-founders of Vision Associates Inc., an optical dispensary management and consulting firm based in Warren Township, NJ. They work with eye-care practices across the United States on operations solutions that save time and grow profits, while allowing eye-care practices to maintain full ownership and control of their dispensaries. Readers may contact the authors at 800/346-7486 or www.visassoc.com.