Ophthalmology Business

SEPT 2013

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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continued from page 9 attend them," said John Swencki, CEO, The Eye Associates, Sarasota, Fla. Your best approach is to meet with the other physicians and key managers to plan which groups might give you the best bang for your buck—and who should attend the various meetings. "You don't want to make that decision in a vacuum," said Mr. Pinto. At The Eye Associates, eight senior managers have commitments with different business groups and nonprofits, said Mr. Swencki. "The doctors are brought in more for speaking engagements," he said. As you meet with staff, you might decide that your administrator will attend the monthly chamber functions, the founding physician of the practice will continue to go to Rotary meetings, and the optometrist will shake hands regularly at the Kiwanis Club. 3 Think about who on your staff will benefit from outside networking. Mr. Pinto often advises younger ophthalmologists to network so they get experience with public speaking and to learn how to deal with the "everyday Joe." Public speaking experience has been one benefit that Adam J. Clarin, OD, Miami, received from joining Business Networking International (BNI), an international networking organization. Members pay several hundred dollars to join BNI but usually receive better qualified referrals than they would elsewhere. Weekly meetings include a short presentation from members; members attend training to learn how to network and give better presentations. "I tried other networking groups but was shy," said Dr. Clarin. "BNI taught me how to stand in front of a group and present." If you have a new physician at your practice, that person may the 10 ideal choice to attend some local networking meetings for good PR. 4 Consider synergies. The Eye Associates gives financial support and volunteer and networking time to the nonprofit groups Senior Friendship Center and Southeastern Guide Dogs. The latter organization trains guide dogs to work with the visually impaired. The organization has a natural connection to vision issues— plus, it's easier to pick one or two groups to focus on, said Mr. Swencki. "If we didn't pick one, we'd be going in many different directions," he said. 5 Evaluate ancillary benefits. Not all of your networking opportunities will be extremely (or immediately) profitable, but are there other benefits you can get from belonging? At one local group, a commercial realtor provided The Eye Associates with a lead for a new location. Attending business lunches may give you leads for new and qualified staff. Dr. Clarin said he is able to easily access advice from local professionals thanks to his BNI colleagues. "I can't put a price tag on knowing I can get a lawyer on the phone quickly and it won't cost me anything. I have a network of professionals at my fingertips," he said. Ophthalmology Business eZine • September 2013 6 Re-evaluate the bottomline benefit of your networking annually, Mr. Pinto recommended. "If you join a local chamber or Lions Club and there are 50 to 75 people in the room, it only takes a couple of meetings to drain the well dry," he said. So you may decide to belong to a certain group for a year or two and then try another opportunity. Dr. Clarin's BNI membership has yielded the practice $25,000 in revenue over four years. "It's definitely been profitable," he said. Plus, he's able to put a fun spin on saying that a good referral for his practice is "anyone with eyeballs." At the same time, he's had to make a commitment to attend weekly meetings and training sessions. Make a point with your staff leaders every year to analyze what financial and intangible benefits your practice gets from each group membership, Mr. Pinto said. Decide if you need to scale back or expand your nonmedical networking accordingly. "Any practice has limited marketing resources, and you can't invest in everything out there. You want the best return on your outreach investment," he said. OB Contact information Clarin: 305-253-2525, DrClarin@clarineyecare.com Pinto: 619-223-2233, pintoinc@aol.com Swencki: 941-792-2020, jswencki@theeyeassociates.com Yeh: 217-698-3030, syeh2020@aol.com

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