Insight with Ken Barbet




Experienced C-Suit Executive

Previous positions in the Beverage Industry

CEO of Eye Recommend for an 8 year period from 2009 to 2017

Believes that Optometrists deserve a more rewarding professional career and a better personal lifestyle

Ken Barbet

President and CEO, Vision Alliance  Partnership

University of Calgary and Queen’s University


Describe your favorite vacation destination?

I love to travel and explore new destinations and old favorites, especially when I travel for what I call “Festival Travel”.  This is when you travel to experience a “once in a lifetime festival” that showcases experiences that cannot be replicated anywhere else.  I have experienced quite a few of these festivals (New Years Eve at Times Square, Octoberfest in Munich, Running of the Bulls in Pamplona Spain, the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, etc.) and am always looking for other ones to experience in the future.

Favorite TV Show / Netflix Series?

Ozark has been my latest Netflix passion – waiting for the next season to start and then binge-watching every episode until the season is complete.  I enjoy movies and series where I really cannot guess what twist or turn is coming next. It gives it a freshness and a reality to the characters and their predicament.

Favorite past-time/hobby?

I enjoy playing golf as often as I can.  Golf is one of those activities that allows you to spend 4 or 5 hours with people you enjoy on golf courses in some of the most beautiful and secluded environments around. Once you start playing, everything else melts away so that you can focus on the game.

What metrics do you track in order to gauge your success?

Metrics are critical to business success.  By choosing and tracking the right metrics, you can identify when things are off track or going off track.

These seven metrics can be used alone to quickly and easily monitor the business or if one of the metrics seems off track, then each can be further broken down into more metrics to help you zero in on the issues that need to be addressed:

  • Appointment Book Efficiency – used to ensure a proper blend of appointments are made that optimizes the doctor’s time
  • New Patient % – used to understand the effectiveness of the practice marketing (for both word of mouth and your website/digital marketing)
  • CL Sales % – used to ensure a balance of new fits and re-orders
  • Conversion Rate – measures conversions from appointment to other purchases
  • Revenue per patient – measures what each patient contributes to your revenue
  • Labor Cost % – measures the adequacy of staffing levels
  • Net Income % – measures the profitability of the practice and your return on investment (Note: should be calculated after all doctors and owners have been compensated)

How do you choose who to hire in your office?

I think hiring is the most important skill a leader needs to develop – nothing gets done without having an incredible team around you, and it all starts with hiring.

I think a blend of current industry skills, passion and personality is what makes for the best employees. So, I look for the passion and personality first and then see if the industry skills that the candidate has are enough to start with.  This often means that I am hiring people who need to learn the eyecare portion of the business, this is okay with me as I really enjoy training people and watching them grow and advance from within.

What habits make you a successful person?

My success comes from the people and teams I have worked with over the years – I cannot think of one thing I did all myself. This means doing things that make the people and teams part of the strategy:

  • Success comes from creating a new path despite the naysayers who want to always do it like it has always been done
  • Being successful means taking responsibility when things go wrong and giving credit to the team when things are successful
  • Taking care to hire the right people with passion and personality
  • Having the team accountable to each other as well as the leader
  • Spending more time listening what my team thinks than telling them how we are going to do it

What advice would you give a new grad today?

You have spent 4 years learning to hone your chosen profession, now spend some time learning the fundamentals of business and how to lead and manage people.

Over the years, I have interacted with hundreds of brilliant optometrists who are best-in-class at providing exceptional eye care to their patients but who struggle with the hiring and management of staff, practice leadership and business principles. In fact, from my perspective only about 10% of optometrists can do both at the same time.  Those able to do both are often the most professionally satisfied and well-compensated optometrists in Canada.

Many new grads confuse being the individual who defines and implements the medical and clinical standards for the patients with practice ownership.


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