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Opportunities for Improvements That Last
By Evan Kestenbaum, CIO & Co-Founder of GPN Technologies
“Incremental improvements” is a pretty modest term. On its own, it doesn’t really shout “transformation,” or bring fireworks and ringing bells to mind. In reality, this unassuming phrase holds a vital key to long-term success. It’s also one of the core philosophies behind our business products here at GPN Technologies.
How many times have you launched a big initiative, or a departmental or procedural overhaul in your office, and seen your initial improvements peter off because the change was unsustainable? Like an ambitious, exciting new-year’s resolution, big shiny changes are often abandoned at the first sign of challenge, and your staff may just revert to their “tried-and-true” behavior patterns. Sweeping changes take us too far out of our comfort zones too quickly, and may leave us floundering back towards familiar waters.
Consider the ease with which you could do “just one small thing.” Say you just wanted to improve a small facet of your optical sales – like reducing the number of times your managed vision care patients only choose the “frame that’s included with my plan” instead of opting for the upgrade. How would you proceed?
Well, you might start by ordering a few fashion-forward frame lines that you can use to really maximize the benefit those patients get from their plans with a small, out-of-pocket contribution. Check. And let’s reorganize those frame boards so those higher margin products are prominently displayed. Check. Then you might implement some effective scripting with your team that specifically and effectively targets those patients. Check. All three of these steps are small, easily accomplished. What do you suppose the results would be?
First of all, those results are probably going to be sustainable. You haven’t asked anyone to do anything that is wildly divergent from his or her ordinary routines. You haven’t made a broad change that makes your staff feel uncomfortable or insecure. You’ve simply asked them to adjust their language in one small instance, and you’ve given them the tools to do it successfully.
You’ve made an incremental change, and you’ve supported it well with good product availability and a small investment of time in sales training. There’s a side benefit or two to be had here as well; you’ve created a methodical approach to improving sales, but you’ve also created an environment that will make your managed vision care patients feel like you’re catering to their needs. And you’ve created a specific product offering that will contribute to increased satisfaction with their eyewear choices. (Can we say win/win?)
If you follow up your new program with weekly check-ins to see how things are progressing, you’re laying the groundwork for lasting change. Couple your follow-through with celebrations of success among your team, and you may find you’re no longer alone in pursuing improved sales – the whole team will jump on board and help. Now you’re playing with fire – the good kind.
So you may be asking yourself “why make the effort with such a small thing?” Because small things add up to big things. They also lay the foundation for the next small thing. Let’s look at a real-world example of why this exact scenario can pay off big-time.
In EDGEPro, we call these “opportunities.” Using our sample practice information, here is an example of how a 5% improvement in this exact sales category can yield big results.
In 2017, this practice sold about 2600 frames. Just over 1000 (about 38%) of those frames were sold to managed care patients, who opted only for what was covered by their plans (paying $0 out of pocket). The practice has an average patient frame price of $126. Reducing those free-to-patient frames by 5% means selling 130 of those managed care patients a frame that requires an out-of-pocket contribution from them. If they purchase at the same average price as the rest of the practice’s patients, the practice will realize an additional $16,000. Even if they only average a $50 purchase, you’re still looking at a potential up-tick in sales of $6500.
If you’re still thinking “so what?” then consider what happens if you lay 6 Incremental Improvements of equal value back-to-back over the course of a year. Now we’re talking about $39,000. And here’s the magic – those incremental improvements are slowly and carefully building long-lasting, productive habits among your team. The incremental improvement you create in the first initiative will still be yielding results as you implement your 4th, 5th, or 15th initiative.
Additional bonus here: incremental improvement initiatives are generally inexpensive, or even cost-free to implement. Read that twice. You can create lasting change in your practice without a big cash outlay to get the job done.
There are myriad options in any practice for making incremental improvements for lasting change. Successful practice managers and owners should always be on the lookout for these opportunities to boost sales and improve the practice performance. Resist the temptation to throw the entire dispensary out the window and start over; instead seek the small changes that add up to long-term success.
Evan Kestenbaum is the CIO and Co-Founder of GPN Technologies, and is the creator of EDGEPro. For more information on effective practice management and analytics tools, please visit their blog at www.gatewaypn.com.