In business for over 30 years, Sterling knows the confusions, stress and inefficiencies that can slow down a practice. The Sterling program identifies the exact issues which need to be addressed and remedies them with customized consulting, management courses and regional workshops. We’ve shown hundreds of optometrists how to effectively run their practices so they can do the work they love—optometry.
I opened my own optometry practice six years after graduating from school. Since I hadn’t talked with other optometrists first, I had no idea how tough running a practice would be. Taking care of my patients, running the staff and managing the practice overwhelmed me. My employees didn’t carry their weight. They put in their time, collected their paychecks and went home. The practice was making money but I didn’t keep any of it—everything went back into the business. Working six days a week, my life was consumed with my business.
I received a management DVD in the mail from Sterling. I watched the DVD and received my consultation. My Sterling consultant pointed out things which I thought were normal in running a practice but weren’t—such as making too little money, working long hours and stress. He assured me Sterling would show me how to run a profitable practice and be happy. I signed up.
That was nine years ago. Since then, Sterling has given me the tools I need to control and manage every part of my practice. For example, with their consulting and marketing course, our volume of new patients really took off and they are quality patients, too. The office is so well organized, we were able to efficiently handle the increased load. I now know how to find and hire good staff, and motivate them to be productive. To top it all off, I take five weeks of vacation each year to be with my family and do other things outside of the practice.
What about the finances? When I first started with Sterling, my consultant asked me to set an income goal for the practice. I threw out a number which I thought was too high. But I reached that goal and sooner than expected, so I had to set a new goal, and another and another—I reached those, too. My numbers just keep going higher and higher along with my net profit. When I’m ready to retire, I will be able to retire when I want and in the way I want.
My practice is growing, it’s profitable and best of all, I’m having fun.
Dorrine Goldschmidt, OD, Alabama
In 1994, I joined a friend from optometry school in opening up an office in Las Vegas. To provide some temporary income while we were building it up, we both took leases at Wal-Marts and then spent a couple of days a week in our own practice. After three years, we were still working at Wal-Mart.
Our own practice had grown, but not nearly enough to support both of us working there full time. The place was disorganized and staff was a huge problem. We could walk into the office and feel the animosity; like it wasn’t our practice, but we were invading their territory. We knew we needed help to regain control of the practice and achieve our goals. The business management courses we had taken in college hadn’t taught us what we really needed to make the practice successful.
After speaking to one of Sterling’s consultants my partner felt that they offered just the help we needed to get our practice moving along the right track. He was right. We went out to their offices for some management training and the practice started to grow very rapidly. We opened a second office in 1998 and then added a third. By 2005, our receipts had reached $5 million.
Sterling has been there to help me every step of the way. They help me select and hire the best staff and then train the staff so they know the right way to do their jobs. With the office well organized and running smoothly, I am able to devote my full attention to my patients rather than coping with personnel problems and disorganization.
Having my practice under control also helps me with my home life. I have been able to cut down my work hours and frequently take the kids to school or pick them up afterward. I am free to join them on field trips. I can take vacations whenever our kids are on break or whenever we want, without worrying about the practice or our personal finances.
I have been with Sterling now for more than a decade, and I am very grateful for all the help they have given me in reaching my practice and personal goals. They really know what it takes to build a successful practice.
What I have learned is that being a competent optometrist and hard work are important ingredients in having a successful practice, but they do not guarantee success. Sterling taught me what I’d been missing and got me on the road to living the life I dreamed of when I first decided to open my own practice. Now I am having fun.
Chris Chiodo, OD, Nevada
After graduating from Pennsylvania College of Optometry, I moved to Wyoming and opened up a practice in Jackson. Fourteen years later, I was ready to call it quits. I was under a lot of stress, was becoming extremely burned out and wanted to sell the practice.
I had selected optometry because I wanted to help people, but also wanted to have a life, not to be woken up by patient emergencies at all hours of the night. But since I didn’t know how to manage personnel, it was the staff problems that were keeping me awake. I would hire what I thought were very good staff members, but after a while things would start to crumble. They would get lazy, they would run the office the way that they wanted and I would lose control over them. The final straw came when one of my employees decided that, since she wasn’t a morning person, she wouldn’t schedule anyone at 9:00 because she didn’t feel like dealing with them. At that point I knew I needed to either learn how to run my office better or get out of the business.
I was sitting in my office on what should have been my day off, trying to catch up on work that my employees should have done. I was going through a bunch of mail that had piled up and almost threw away a letter from an optometrist in Florida telling about how Sterling had helped him triple his practice while giving him more free time. That letter hit home like a ton of bricks. I called Sterling, watched their free DVD and signed up for the program.
I went to Sterling for training in February and found they had an easy to apply system that works. I couldn’t wait to get home and start using it. Once I did, the results were immediate. March is normally a good month for us, but in fourteen years we had never grossed over $50,000. This year we hit $62,000. April is considered an off season in our tourist town—in between the ski and summer seasons—and many businesses shut down during the month. My Sterling consultant said there is no such thing as an off season and she was right. We had never done better than $40,000 in April, but with Sterling’s help, this year we broke $61,000. The month of May was also our best ever and all of this growth was despite the recession and our decision last year to stop accepting insurance.
It wasn’t worth it to me to have a practice that was out of control and eating away at my mental health and physical well-being. I am glad that I made the right decision and called Sterling rather than shutting down the office. I highly recommend that you call Sterling… I am well along the way to having the practice I envisioned when I first decided to be an optometrist.
Bonnie C. Kovacs, OD, Wyoming
I opened my own optometry practice two years after graduating from school. To make ends meet, I worked three days a week at an ophthalmologist’s office and three days in my own practice. This was meant to be temporary, but my practice was struggling. One month we’d be very busy and the next month production would crash. I didn’t know how to keep the phones ringing and spent seven years working at both practices.
One problem was I didn’t know how to hire qualified people. I’d interview an applicant and the person would look glowing. But once they got started, they wouldn’t be able to function. One woman had 25 years experience working for an optometrist and assured me she knew everything there was to know. Once she started, what she did best was sharpen pencils. Since people are on their best behavior in job interviews, I couldn’t tell the good from the bad.
One night I saw a Sterling seminar on practice management and signed up for their customized consulting program. With Sterling, we overhauled our hiring process so that job candidates were tested and hired on a trial basis. I started to hire good people. As a result, we built a productive staff which operated as a team. If Sterling had done no more for me than that, I would have been happy, but they did much more. They showed me how to be an executive and grow a practice, profitably.
I now have a million-dollar practice and work three days a week. Better yet, I am 35% profitable. I’ve been able to spend more time with my family. Thanks to Sterling, I’ve been around a lot for my kids. I also have the freedom to travel to other countries and deliver pro bono optometric care to the underprivileged, my passion.
A doctor once asked if I would have done the Sterling program after school. I said yes, because I would have been where I am now seven years earlier. It’s a nice life.
John P. Demshar, OD., California
I always enjoyed helping people. Once I was exposed to working in an optometric office, I knew I had found my life’s work and went on to become an optometrist. After working as an associate and an adjunct professor, I opened my own practice. I thought it was a dream come true—I had no idea how wrong I would be.
I worked hard, putting my heart and soul into the practice. Although I got excellent results on my patients, after five years and much hard work, we were running deeply in the red. I was the highest-trained and lowest-paid person in the office, taking home less than my receptionist! Even worse, I often had to cover the office expenses with my credit cards. The constant stress was taking its toll on my health and my family life. I couldn’t go on living and working just to keep the doors open. I needed help to get my practice and my life back on track.
I looked at what several consulting firms had to offer. There were lots of people who were willing to tell me what to do but only Sterling offered to train me on how to effectively run my practice. I signed up for the Sterling program and took management courses and received one-on-one consulting. Sterling understands that each doctor and each practice is different and so I received customized services to meet my exact needs.
The program produced immediate results. The office was better organized; the staff became more efficient and worked as a team. In the first six months, our production rose by 30% and I was able to start paying myself. The practice has now doubled and instead of being in debt, we have a positive cash flow and money in the bank.
Sterling filled in the practice management training not taught in optometric school. The program gave me practical knowledge that I use on a daily basis in and out of the office.
Instead of the practice controlling my life, I am now in the driver’s seat. Without the stress, my health is better, I am making more money and I have the pleasure of working with staff who are as enthusiastic about building the practice as I am.
Sterling put me in the driver’s seat running my practice.
Jeanette Lee, OD, California