The inaugural 1st Optometry Business Bootcamp was a two-day event held on the Gold Coast from 7–8 September. Entirely nonclinical, the event consisted of seminars and interactive workshops aimed at providing tools and strategies to achieve growth and success in an ever-competitive, innovating and fast-changing market.
Right from the get-go, it was obvious that the 1st Optometry Business Bootcamp would be a very different type of conference. The opening speaker and MC was Sam Bowden – former vet and creator of United Vets Group, a veterinary buying group that provides vet practices with a complete system to increase profits, reduce stress, and deliver outstanding client service.
EXPLODING LIMITING BELIEFS
Mr Bowden proposed that most of the fuel for business success comes from personal mindset, beliefs and habits. Identifying areas where personal mindset could change and improve was arguably one of the more confronting and unexpected, yet powerful, group exercises performed on day one.
While most business owners have the knowledge and confidence to create the results they desire, they often lack the day-to-day discipline (planning and accountability) to achieve the full potential of their business. Identifying the tasks that are the most important to move the business forward, and creating 90-day business plans that are simple and easy to stick to, were just some of the tools discussed to help build and grow a practice.
Other practical strategies for growth discussed included generating more profits by increasing the number of eye exams, increasing conversion rates and the value of each sale, and decreasing operating costs. Potential friction points in the full cycle of customer experience were also identified, from the very first phone call or arrival at the practice, through to follow-up after spectacle collection.
INNOVATION AND ADAPTION
Guest speaker Gus Balbontin, former CEO of Lonely Planet spoke about being adaptable in a world where technology is advancing exponentially and continually causing disruption to traditional business models.
Being able to quickly and efficiently adapt to change is a strong advantage that independent practices have over larger corporates, as small businesses are generally less limited by cemented processes and ways of operating. While processes and procedures have their value, business owners should be careful not to invest too heavily in doing things a certain way, as it will be far more difficult to shift when required. Disruption within the industry should never be under-estimated, and the attitude of ‘if it ain’t broke…’ should be thrown out the window if a business wants to be innovative and adaptable.
ENHANCING SALES AND CULTURE
Optometry business expert and consultant Mindi Lewis flew in from California to deliver a talk jam packed with practical advice for generating significantly more sales to drive practice growth.
Ms Lewis immediately identified several areas in day to day practice management that can be improved to generate more sales. These included: optometrists avoiding the dispensing area; a lack of metrics and goal setting; disengaged staff and patients; outdated or cluttered dispensaries and frame selections; and lacklustre visual merchandising. Additionally, practice websites and social media accounts often need more frequent updating and don’t do enough to show the personality of the practice.
Business culture is extremely important, and setting the tone for communication with team members will filter through to patient interaction. Involving and engaging people who work for you always pays off, and encouraging feedback and involvement will help implement new strategies to adapt to change and disruption in the industry.
Positive cultures increase efficiency, result in minimal absences and fewer mistakes, less employee turnover, increase the number of multiple pair sales, and increase patient loyalty and referrals.
INTERACTIVE MASTERMIND SESSION
The Bootcamp’s final activity was perhaps one of the most practical and helpful sessions for attendees. The mastermind session involved small group workshops of six or seven people, with each participant putting forward a specific challenge that they were having in their business. Other group members were then given 10 minutes to help brainstorm solutions to each challenge, as well as provide any advice from their own experience.
This collaborative session gave participants practical tips they could implement immediately to help solve their problem, and also provided an opportunity to learn from the challenges others were facing.
Running a business can often be an isolating experience; being surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals in the mastermind session was not only great for practical advice, but also reminded participants that they are not alone in experiencing their specific challenges, and that help and advice is more easily accessible than they think.
The 1st Optometry Business Bootcamp was an initiative of 1st Group, and will be repeated in 2020. Read more at mivision.com.au
Dr Alex Koutsokeras achieved her Optometry degree with first class honours from the University of Auckland. Prior to this, she completed a Psychology degree from the University of Sydney.