Minding Their Business


By Mary Kane: Executive Editor

Ron Lieber of The New York Times recently wrote a great column about financial tuneups for the average consumer called “Take a Few Hours to Unlock Some Cash” where he describes how he devoted an (unpaid) vacation day to review his personal finances and find some hidden cash.

His checklist included things like re-negotiating his cable plan, raising some insurance deductibles, rebalancing his investments and upgrading his cash-back credit card. His approach makes a lot of sense and is probably inspiring many readers, including me, to use a carryover vacation day (or two) to conduct our own financial checkup.

Throughout this recession, consumers have seemed consumed by the quest to unearth some hidden money to balance out the frozen wages, pay cuts and job losses that have, in one way or another, affected nearly every family in the U.S.

The trickle down affect of those lost wages has surely seeped into the dispensaries and exam rooms of eyecare practices and the three Os could take a cue from their penny-pinching clients by taking a cold hard look at their own business models.

As ECPs gather at conferences and annual meetings this Spring, there’s been a greater emphasis on the “business” of running their practices. Today, their success depends not only on their knowledge of optometry but also on their ability to wear their “CEO” hat and to wear it well.

This entails responsibilities that all successful small businesses must bear: managing not only the process but also the people by hiring, training and retaining valuable staff. And let’s not forget taking the time to market the practice and delve into the potentially valuable world of social media.

Like any good business manager, keeping on eye on the bottom line with careful inventory, smart pricing and new products is all part of a sound business plan.

Hopefully, ECPs have been playing it close to the vest these past 18 months. By employing these smart business practices, they’ll be poised to welcome back consumers who are ready and able to spend more freely once the clouds of the recession begin to lift.