Should I invest when the economic forecast is gloomy? - article by Stuart Burn
Posted on 15th November 2023 at 12:02
Is investing a wise move when the country looks to be on the edge of recession?
In truth - there is no definitive answer!
Of course, the wider economy needs to be considered but this should not be your deciding factor – there are other points to consider.
Optical business owners are a different breed to most entrepreneurs – ‘evidence based’ thinkers by nature or as a product of their science-based education, they tend to err on the cautious side.
This doesn’t have to be a negative, but it can mean that great opportunities are missed or delayed. In a competitive market this can leave a practice looking staid and less dynamic.
Obviously, that does not mean a practice should jump on every bandwagon that comes along, constantly changing the practice ethos.
This creates confusion and unrest among staff and patients and loses an independent identity.
No, not at all, it means taking a balanced approach to investment/risk and thinking clearly about all the factors.
Patient experience – The first consideration must of course be your patients.
Who will benefit from the enhancements you are considering?
Myopia Management is the current hot topic and an excellent way to enhance patient care for your younger demographic.
Perfect ...Let’s go!!
Maybe not so fast…there’s a little more to think about here……
Patient numbers and uptake – How are you going to generate the income to cover your investment? Do you have the patient numbers?
The interest? How are you going to spread the word?
This is probably the main cause of concern for most practices as it’s very difficult to accurately predict.
Will I get the throughput to justify the time and expense?
Ultimately, I think this is where the leaders differ from the followers.
The leaders tend to have a greater belief in getting their message across and the confidence the patients will respond positively.
Practice logistics – do you have the physical space in the practice for new equipment, new displays, new ranges etc.
Are your staff keen and willing to take on new concepts such as Myopia Management, Contact Lenses, and Dry Eye Clinics.
This is not just Optometrists and dispensing Opticians but support staff too. Your front-of-house team can be a powerful asset to your practice but also an incredible frustration if they are not fully behind your vision.
Time – Can your practice accommodate the time needed to bring your investment to life.
OCT for example is a great revenue generator but you still need to find the time to build this into your clinical routine: taking scans interpreting them and relaying the results.
Return on Investment – How to monetise an investment.
Of course, there are some investments that need to be made without a return on investment but in most cases a practice will want to recoup money spent and generate additional revenue.
Charging the right amount for maximum uptake is key.
ROI, (Return on Investment) calculators are excellent tools to demonstrate the balance between the patient charge and the volume, and hopefully giving credence to your plans.
Which investment is best – quite often a practice has a choice of directions. E.g OCT or Ultra-Wide Field? Dry Eye Clinic or Myopia Management?
These are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but most practices will want to add one addition at a time and perfect the integration before moving on to the next.
It’s important a practice does not suffer from paralysis on decision making here. Generally, a decision to move forward is better than no decision at all.
Investing in your practice in the current economic climate may seem daunting but, in my experience, when I see practices invest, I see new passion, patient growth and stronger foundations for weathering future economic storms.
Choosing the best investment……...well that’s one for you.
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