Embracing Outsourcing as a Strategy

 
Is it time to rethink your strategy now that you are reopened?

When it comes to outsourcing your optometry office’s functions, it’s natural to look only at the direct costs.

You analyze your in-house staff wages. And then compare them to a vendor’s fees. But there’s more to it than a basic wage to fee comparison. And it’s not an all-or-none decision.

 
Free to Focus on Your Care

Outsourcing at its best augments a practice’s team, with the outsourcing vendor taking on a piece a practice can’t handle because of lagging expertise or limited resources. A good outsourcing partner will take on tasks to free you up to do what you do best: patient care.

That’s the intangible part of outsourcing that can’t be directly calculated.

Patient care is even more important in our current Covid-19 climate, as practices feel the pressure to see more patients with more regulations and sometimes with less staff (some who might not have returned after being furloughed).

Recently, we caught up with Dr. Hal Breedlove, an optometrist who started a practice in 1984 and grew his single office to five locations, and Kelly Jackson, a multi-location optometry practice owner, and asked what they outsource, why they outsource, and why outsourcing matters more than ever in our post Covid-19 world:
 

 
Be What You Were Trained to Be
  I learned quite a long time ago that I really didn’t have the understanding of many of the functions of running a successful office. There were big questions marks related to things like accounts receivable. We had to learn on the fly.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have started outsourcing all these things immediately–as soon as I started. I struggled with wanting everything under my thumb. But as soon as I let other people do some of the jobs that they know better—because they were specifically trained in it—my practice improved dramatically.

I had to remind myself of this: We weren’t sent to school to learn how to be business people. We were sent to school to learn how to be doctors.
– -Dr. Hal Breedlove

 
 
Easing of Indirect Costs
  I’m always surprised to find that a lot of the outsource companies that we leveraged today are actually cheaper than trying to directly source it internally.

There are multiple (not always recognized) indirect costs of not outsourcing—and they have to do with staffing. When you outsource, you have one less person to manage in your office. Building and keeping a staff in place—the hiring, training, reviews, and benefits—can be costly.

The big indirect cost is the burden of maintaining a staff.

I’m always surprised to find that a lot of the outsource companies that we leverage today are actually cheaper than trying to directly source it internally.
– Kelly Jackson

 
 
Outsourcing Marketing in a Post-Covid Climate
  In a post-Covid climate, social media is more important than ever as people are wanting to be talked to by the businesses that are closest and mean the most to them. Having a brand voice and having a plan and communicating that proactively to your base is important.

You don’t want to rest on your laurels in this space. You really want to get out ahead of it. For an apples-to-apples comparison, somebody that shows they care and are trying to do the right thing will pay dividends for you.

Our first attempt at social media marketing was honestly terrible – iPhone pictures of frames sitting on a desk aren’t always the most appealing. I didn’t have the time or expertise to devote to it. As with everything, when you try to do too much by yourself, you will never be as good as one trained professional could be in that space.

We have now outsourced our social media function to an agency.

At first, I thought it was going to be expensive. But our return was three-fold just right off the bat. Outsourcing your social media to a local marketing agency that really knows your business as well as your community is important during this time.
– Kelly Jackson

 
 
Evolution of an Office
 

Just like the practice that Kelly runs, we recently started outsourcing in an area in which we didn’t have expertise: social media and marketing. I sure didn’t know what was going on.

Finding out how easy it was to outsource and seeing the return on investment confirmed that outsourcing has its place. Our outsourcing partner was able to do what needed to be done to get our name out there better than any person in-house.

After that, we looked at the next thing that we didn’t want to have to worry about doing in house. You start by picking the thing that you really don’t like doing. It’s usually that thing that always takes too much of your time—because you’re not an expert. Start there.

You’ll keep finding out, like we did, that outsourcing isn’t that bad. And it doesn’t cost as much for your return on investment. Then you can start adding layers to make sure you don’t have too many staff members, because staff can drag down your profits.
– Dr. Hal Breedlove