February 2020: Taking advantage of your practice analytics
Some of you know me personally and, if you’re one of those people, then you know I’m an optometrist-turned-marketer. Optometrists could really learn a lot from marketers—but I’m not talking about marketing tactics. I’m talking about tracking your analytics and metrics.
You see, in marketing, if you don’t track your analytics then I’d say you’re not doing your job. As a marketer, my key metrics are: unique viewers, pageviews, returning visitors, marketing qualified leads, cost per acquisition, and acquisition source. If I didn’t track these then I wouldn’t call myself a marketer. As an optometrist, if you don’t track your practice analytics, you’re still an optometrist by definition, but I think we’re entering an age where one would say you’re not a very good optometry practice owner.
In a 2017 survey CovalentCareers conducted, we found that optometrists ranked their understanding of their business metrics at a 7.2 out of 10. If you ask me, this isn’t very good—imagine your child coming home with a 72% on a test!
Before you read any further, do you know the key metrics you should be tracking in your optometry practice? If you don’t, it’s probably time for a wake up call.
These are the key optometry practice metrics I think you should be tracking (if you’re curious, I learned these from GPN Technologies):
- Average revenue per exam
- Average revenue per doctor
- Exams per OD hour
- Optical capture rate
- New patient growth
- Revenue by CPT code
When I look at marketing metrics, I look for problems that need fixing and good things that need to be replicated.
It’s the same as a practice owner. As a practice owner, you’d use the average revenue per exam and per doctor to understand who is pulling their weight in terms of prescribing and doctor-driven dispensing. Those lagging behind the average need additional training on how to identify opportunities with patients. If an OD can’t hit the average after training and support, then this optometrist might not be a good fit for your practice.
Exams per OD hour and new patient growth are great metrics to understand how well your marketing is working and how booked your schedule is. It will also help you understand your slow times of the year and when you should turn up the marketing dollars in order to beat your numbers from the previous year and therefore grow your bottom line.
For optical capture rate, you’ll look at the number of complete pairs of glasses sold divided by exams with a refraction. This will give you an idea of the volume of patients walking with their prescription, how your opticians and sales people are performing, how your frame and lens selection is holding up, and so much more.
Lastly, my favorite is revenue by CPT code. With a lot of optometry practice revenue shifting from optical to medical, it’s key that we understand what actions inside of our exam room are paying the bills: for example, a 92250 for fundus photography or 68761 for punctal occlusion. The key here is not what you are billing, but what you are NOT billing. It will serve as a gap analysis so that you can lay out a plan on how to start doing more procedures where you’re lacking, thereby generating additional revenue. Without it, you’re just guessing where you’re strong and weak.
We’re at a point in optometry where everything is digital and, while it was a huge headache to go digital, you should now take advantage of all that hard work (and those dollars!) you put in. Reviewing optometry practice metrics should be an exercise that 100% of business owners do on a weekly basis. As far as I am concerned, it’s par for the course, and practices not doing it will miss out on major growth opportunities.
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January 2020: The future of eyecare hiring
To kick off the new year, I’d like to reflect on one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2019 when it comes to hiring in eyecare. All of the data and statistics I reference in this article came from an independent survey we did on 1,200 optometrists and students, which you can download here for free—The 2019 Optometrist Report.
As CEO at CovalentCareers, I get to speak with everyone from mom-and-pop private practices to the largest optometric corporations in the world. One thing I’ve come to realize is that most smaller private practices are not doing a good job filling their open optometrist positions, while large corporations, on the other hand, are crushing it.
I’ll tell you exactly why that is right now—and trust me, you’ll want to bookmark this.
Through our survey and through talking with thousands of practices a year, we found that 86% of optometrists are researching an employer’s brand and culture prior to applying for a job. Culture, in fact, ranks #1 at 62% for what optometrist job seekers feel is most important about an employer’s brand. Now, the funny thing is that the average employer spends only $826/year on “marketing their employer brand,” and they also ranked the importance of their employer brand extremely low at 6 of 10. 95% of optometrists research a brand before choosing to apply! What makes this whole thing comical is that employers rank their #1 headache in practice as “staff”—so that low investment in people really bites them in the butt.
You could argue that optometrists need a job and they’ll take what they can get—but this is flat out wrong. There is only 3.7% national unemployment at the time of writing, and it’s on the decline. Here at CovalentCareers, we forecast that optometrist unemployment is likely no greater than 1.5%, and that means there are only a few hundred optometrists looking for jobs at any given point in time. If you are part of this 1.5% unemployed, it’s likely because you’re just entering the workforce or transitioning jobs. Combine that with an average debt load at close to $200,000 and average confidence of paying that debt off at six out of 10, and employers are now competing very heavily with companies who have deeper pockets and can beat whatever your top offer is for compensation.
Add even more fuel to that fire with the fact that 32% of new optometrists want to open a practice, and you take another 500+ graduates out of the shallow pool of roughly 1,700 optometrists who graduate each year.
So my point to the optometrist community is this: In 2020 you simply cannot rest on your laurels and plan to get lucky with an OD hire, especially if you’re outside of a major metropolitan area. Simply asking your colleagues or posting on a job board will not yield the results you need. You must invest in recruitment marketing and telling the story of “why” an OD should join your practice. This additional time, money, and resources is what’s required to hire an optometrist in 2020.