Dr. Lesser, born and raised in Canada, spent her childhood outside of Toronto before moving to the US.  Laurie has spent over 25 years practicing in both private and commercial settings. 

In 2020 she joined Bailey Nelson as the Eyecare Director North America and UK, where she she can share her experience, knowledge and passion for Optometry and support Optometrists. In her spare time Laurie enjoys hiking and exploring Vancouver with her husband. She is happy to be back in Canada 

Dr. Laurie Lesser

Optometrist, Salus Pennsylvania College of Optometry (1992)
Eyecare Director – Bailey Nelson North America & UK

 

Why did you choose your field?
I have the traditional Optometrist origin story. I received my first pair of glasses at age 5 and it opened up my world (thanks Dr Stan Salsberg!). I know optometry makes a tangible difference in people’s lives and I wanted to help people. Twenty years after my first exam I became an O.D. and I continue to see patients. I became Bailey Nelson’s Eyecare director to pursue my other passion, supporting optometrists and helping them find the same level of fulfillment in being an Optometrist.

What advice would you give a new grad today?
Your work environment matters. You have worked so hard to become an optometrist, you want to make certain that you enjoy practicing. Money is important but the expectation of how many patients you see per hour or pressure to sell from the chair can be very stressful. Having the support of other Optometrists to reach out to and a great team supporting you in your office makes a big difference. The goal is to be excited to go to work every day and get to do what you’ve been striving for.

What business books would you advise other ECPs to read?
Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. ECPs can explain what they do and how they do it, but to be truly successful they need to understand their Why. If you understand what inspires you, you can inspire your team and that engagement will lead to your success.

What is your most effective marketing tool/platform?
Google reviews and online marketing are very important but the most effective way to market your practice is internal marketing. The word of mouth from your patients, referring their friends and family is extremely effective. Bailey Nelson’s “Why” is to bring Joy to Eyecare.

As an independent Optometrist you can feel confident that your patient will have the best experience inside and outside the lane. We pride ourselves on customer service from the moment they come in the store. We make it an experience worth remembering and worth sharing.

If you could take one album, one book, and one luxury item to a desert island, what would they be?
The answer depends on if I’m stranded on the desert island. If so, the book would have to be how to
survive on a desert island and the luxury item would be a mega yacht. Otherwise, any book by
Haruki Murakami, the album Scarred but Smarter by Drivin N Cryin, and a big beach umbrella.

Tell me something few people know about you?
I was an on-air radio DJ in high school. The advice: “There are no bad days in radio”, has helped
me always focus on patient needs no matter what else might be going on in my life.

Have you changed since high school?
When I was in high school, I discovered Punk music. I’m older and wiser now but a great deal of that punk rock sensibility has stayed with me. Being your true self and being passionate about what you do. Having the ability to look at things from a different perspective and not following the status quo.

It’s what excites me about Bailey Nelson; It isn’t a cookie cutter Eyewear Company with the same old ideas. Our culture, values and community make us stand out.

What is something you believed to be true for a long time only to find out you were wrong?
Oddly this just happened to me! I was watching a silly show called Peacemaker. A character mentioned that the series of children’s books about a bear family is the Berenstain Bears, not the Berenstein Bears.

When I looked it up to confirm this, I saw that this misconception is very common. There are some interesting theories about a parallel universe where the bears were called Berenstein and the two universes merged in the 1990’s. As a Haruki Murakami, fan I loved this explanation.


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Has anyone told you how well you have managed since March 15, 2020? Well, hopefully you have heard these words many times!

At this time last year, I was writing about how glad we were to see 2020 come to an end. COVID threw the world into utter chaos, and many wondered how and when we would recover.

Looking back, did you ever think you would have the courage, stamina, and leadership skills to get yourself to this point?

Owners of offices really do deserve accolades for navigating these treacherous waters. Even if you are not an owner, you are still providing care to people who are facing anxieties and fears more than ever before. For this, all optometrists, opticians and staff, deserve a huge pat on the back.

Life is Full of Learning
The global pandemic has taught us countless lessons about the world in which we live. One of these lessons is that life can be utterly unpredictable.

While we could never have imagined our world being turned upside down in March 2020, we learned the importance of being flexible and adaptable. This pandemic altered our personal lives, and drastically changed our professional lives—and it continues to do so, even as we approach the end of 2021.

Over the past year and a half, the pandemic created profound changes to the way we work, play, and interact.

While healthcare offices had to adapt to treat patients in “safer” environments, the people who visit your clinic have been impacted by the pandemic because their work environments have been impacted.

Prior to the pandemic, professional and personal identities were not connected.

Merging of Personal and Professional Life
However, after Zoom calls from home offices, with spouses, children, and pets making numerous appearances, your patients’ professional and personal identities have merged and this most likely will not change as we move into a post-pandemic normal.

As a healthcare provider, you do not make small talk anymore. Patients are presenting with varying degrees of stress, and perhaps, anxiety. Their need to make a clear division between work and home life is no longer viable.

Because professional and personal identities have become intertwined, people’s stress levels cannot help but increase, work and personal life can no longer be treated as two separate concepts.

If we thought we had a difficult time maintaining the balance before, this pandemic really challenged us to create work-life balance.

Importance of Soft Skills
Owners and their teams have been forced to communicate differently with patients who had to cope through isolation, the forced closure of schools, places of worship, community centres and businesses.

You were always sensitive to patients, but your empathy skills had to triple as you spoke to people who were prevented in seeing loved ones and doing the things they loved. And you did this while you went through the same stressors of social-distancing and or self-isolating.

Leadership is never easy. Managing a practice pre-Covid was not easy. This pandemic took everyone and everything to new levels.

Dealing with staff, managing the finances, attracting new patients, and managing existing patients was enough to handle.

Managing a practice during Covid is difficult to say the least. As exhilarating and rewarding as ownership is, the
reality of being responsible for so much can take its toll. Hopefully, coming out of this chaotic time, owners have been able to reflect on the positives.

2022 Might Well be Your Time
If you own your own practice or are thinking of getting into ownership, 2022 is the time. You have already demonstrated tremendous courage in navigating the past 20 months.

You deserve so much credit for working tirelessly to preserve the mental health of your patients, staff, and families. Those who took the plunge to pursue ownership ought to be commended as well.

Pandemic aside, people continue to buy and sell practices.

Instead of doing the traditional goal setting as many of us do, moving into the new year, perhaps, we can look back at all we have accomplished and be grateful we are entering 2022 with fresh perspective, optimism, and a new sense of purpose.

Today, while numbers continue to creep up in some communities, arguments between those vaccinated and those who are not rage on but on which we can all agree is that we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Saying goodbye to 2021 and wishing you continued health, prosperity, and peace in 2022.

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp

JACKIE JOACHIM

Jackie Joachim is Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at jackie.joachim@roicorp.com or 1-844-764-2020.


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2020 did not work out as any of us planned. So many had great expectations which quickly came to a grinding halt. The world changed and the way we do business has too. Some of the changes will even become permanent.

As difficult as this pandemic has been for people, we must continue to believe we will come through this. Because we will. Think back to when our parents and grandparents had to experience extremely challenging times like the Depression, World Wars and other tragedies. There were always celebrations once these challenges came to an end.

No one has a crystal ball. No one knows what 2021 will really look like, but we must enter with optimism and hope. People will gather again, hug again, travel again. Global economics will rebound. There is pent up demand for products and services. After all, we caught a glimpse of this when dental and optometry offices reopened after the forced closures. Many practices are seeing revenues rebound and approach pre-pandemic levels.

Positivity in life is the key to success, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment. It is difficult to have a positive attitude and positive thoughts when we look back at 2020 but as much as there was pain and suffering, there were some silver linings.

Those of us in the people business had to really work at our communication skills. You had to ensure you kept in touch with your patients—to not only educate but to be a calming voice of science-based information. Many people improved their technology skills. For those of us that consider ourselves “too old”, we embraced things liked zoom calls, webinars and Instagram. One of my favourite moments is about my 89 year old mother setting up an Instagram account. On a personal level, we valued those closest to us. Hopefully family relationships have also strengthened.

2020 has taught us that we cannot always be in control and that we must be willing to adapt. One thing we can control is our attitude and how we choose to approach life. An optimistic attitude is critical and necessary for 2021. It pushes us forward, encourages us, and helps us overcome obstacles. It inspires those around us and helps us in accomplishing dreams and goals. A positive attitude also helps with making difficult tasks easier to fulfill. A positive frame of mind increases our motivation to
succeed. It motivates us to think creatively and therefore achieve more than we ever expected.

Most importantly, a positive attitude awakens happiness within ourselves and those around us. Goodness knows, we need happiness and hope. To be very clear, we can all agree that we need more positivity, joy and happiness in 2021. Please be a beacon of hope. We will get through this pandemic if we stay positive together!

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp

JACKIE JOACHIM

Jackie Joachim is Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at jackie.joachim@roicorp.com or 1-844-764-2020.


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One of the most commonly asked questions of people in my position is “what is your top practice management advice or tips”?

Appraisers and brokers are obviously aware of very successful business practices as it is our responsibility to uncover them on a daily basis when we are performing appraisals and selling practices. We also uncover some inefficiencies and, quite frankly, bad practices that we make recommendations about to our clients.

It’s Up to You.
These management “issues” might be a quick fix and something that will not take long but others may take months or years to modify and while doing so, it could be detrimental to a successful sale. We make recommendations to fix these concerns if time and willpower to get it done are available. If not, it may impact the eventual sale price but not be worth the time, money and energy for the current owner to invest in before selling.

We are not practice management consultants. There is a plethora of people that do that for a living and most have worked in a professional office at one time or another and offer their services through a multitude of social mediums, mostly focusing on efficiencies and staff training. Despite what these management gurus might tell you, tread this path with caution. There is no silver bullet to eradicate practice management issues. If you have dug yourself a hole, you will need to pick up a shovel and dig yourself out.

Are You A Good Leader?
I am a firm believer in the theory that good practice management is really a top down principle and is explicitly linked to effective leadership skills. You need to take a selfie. Are you a good leader? There are many books out there on great leadership that are readily available for all of us want-to-be or current leaders and most of the research on the topic would suggest that inefficiencies, low morale, or a toxic culture is probably created and/or permitted by the leader/owner of the business.

Success is never owned, it is rented, and the rent is due every day.” This quote by Rory Vaden emphasizes the need to be and continue to be a leader daily.

Many business owners have big egos. That is what causes us to take risks and become business owners.

Taking a regular selfie of ourselves as business owners is an important exercise. We need to see how the world views us and be brutally honest in our assessment of the culture we have built and how we have allowed it to shape not only the environment of our business, but also ourselves to some extent. This is not an easy task. When culture is eroded through a lack of leadership, tired leadership or amateur leadership, no systems can save you. Have a good look at yourself. Only you as the figurehead can rewrite the systems that you have allowed to be laid down. Maybe go over to the mirror right now and take a picture.

What kind of leader are you?

TIMOTHY BROWN

is Chief Executive Office of ROI Corporation Canada’s national professional practice and brokerage firm.


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Nava Sarooshi, President of MDP Corporation, lays out a prescription for keeping practice associates engaged and motivated under the constraining circumstances of COVID-19 closures and stay-at-home directives.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE RECORDED WEBINAR.

Sarooshi advises owners consider their practice culture and above all, ensure that practice leaders remain authentic to their own style and remain calm. She lays out a specific plan-o-gram of  Monday – Friday activities from which practice owners can choose to implement. Saroochi emphazises that consideration must be given to the various ages and stages of practice associates in choosing which activities will be most effective.

Her message, “Don’t underestimate how you can strengthen your team’s coherence and culture! Don’t be afraid to share your anxieties, hopes and dreams.”


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We have the privilege of working with the forward-thinking leaders in this industry. So when the opportunity presented itself, it seemed like a natural fit with our business mandate to host an evening with Lee Cockerell, the former Executive VP of Operations with Disney. Many of the leaders in the room have already adopted most of the principles discussed by Mr. Cockerell. As with any continuing education opportunity, however, there is always something we can take from it to grow and be better for knowing it.

One of the big messages from Mr. Cockerell was:  Leaders “be” and managers “do”. The fundamentals of being a good leader are simple. For Lee, some of these fundamentals are:

  • Ensure that associates are knowledgeable about their roles
  • Implement effective, structured processes for getting work done
  • Actively observe and react to the performance of your team and take time for recognition, coaching and counselling
  • Demonstrate a passionate, professional commitment to your role in the show

Actually doing what you have to do to be a good leader is much more difficult.

Ensuring that your staff understands their role and the responsibilities associated with it requires some dedicated time to writing out all the tasks that need to be completed in the office. Next, you need to assign those tasks to a role in the office. Once you have defined what tasks are associated with each role, you should sit with each team member and review the responsibilities. If there are tasks on the list that the team member is not comfortable performing, you need to figure out how to close the gap. This could come in the form of training through a 3rd party or it could be training from another team member.

Once all the tasks have been identified and assigned to a team member, you need to document how each task should be performed in your office. A good example is your accounts receivable process. Document step by step how you would like this task completed so that someone can follow along and check off the boxes as they get them completed.

It is easy in the busyness of the day to day to forgot to circle back on a regular basis to give feedback to your employees. For many, a word of recognition of a job well done is as rewarding as a pay raise! For others who are struggling in their roles, you need to spend time evaluating what the barriers are and trying to address them. It could be that more education is required or it could be that this role just isn’t a great fit for their skill set. And as hard as that conversation is to have, it is has to be had.  As other employees watch a toxic relationship develop, no matter what the cause, if the leader doesn’t stand up and address it, the rest of the team will lose morale.

Lastly, the importance of being an involved, interested leader cannot be stressed enough. How you engage with patients and staff will set the tone for everyone’s performance in the office. If there is a staff member who is arriving to work late every day, address it and be sure to arrive to the office early yourself! Introduce your patients to your staff in a way that builds confidence in both.

As you look at your week ahead in your practice, consciously think about what will you do and how will you be. Being a great leader takes a lot of energy and time. I hope you will take some time to reflect on what you are doing well in these fundamentals and what steps you can take to do better in others.

KELLY HRYCUSKO

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.


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The challenge of HR is one of the most difficult aspects of owning a business. We often hear about the frustration of staff turnover from our clients.

Our work as consultants is tied directly to the integrity and sustainability of the team and over the years, we have seen some winning combinations.

Leadership is always the foundational piece. Not only will the direction of the practice come from the owner, but it is also key that the owner and their employees have a good working relationship built on respect and open communication. In general, how staff speaks to each other, to the doctor and to patients, will ultimately be a reflection of how the doctor communicates with staff.

We struck a cord recently when speaking on this topic at the OAO conference in Toronto:

Imagine that the doctor is getting ready to leave for the day. A staff member comes back and let’s the doctor know that an emergency has just walked through the door. The doctor’s reaction will be noted by the staff member, either subconsciously or consciously. If the doctor responded with frustration at being delayed, there is a high probability that the next time that a patient walks late or as an emergency, the staff member will exhibit some mild irritation. Conversely, if instead the doctor responds with concern and a willingness to help, the staff will more likely also exhibit that behaviour towards patients.

We encourage the offices that we work with to also share financials, as much as they are comfortable with, with their staff. It is vital that staff members understand that the practice is fundamentally a business and that there are some key performance metrics that need to be tracked and managed. Sharing this information is also quite useful and effective in Change Management. As changes are made in the office, it is important that staff see the results of their efforts.

While there is no magic wand—people will leave to pursue personal goals or move with spouses—paying attention to how you manage your staff and understand what motivates them will increase the likelihood of a happy and productive team.

 

CHRISTINA FERRARI

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com


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It’s not easy being the one in charge. There are multiple pressures on your time. However, how you respond to everyday problems and events in your office sets the example for your employees.

We recently spoke at the OAO and shared this example:

A doctor is getting ready to leave for the day. A patient walks in late. An employee walks back to the doctor’s office and informs the doctor of the patient’s late arrival.   The doctor expresses their irritation with the patient, grumbling that they just want to finish up their day and go home. The next time a patient was late, the staff responded by showing their irritation.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, employees are mimicking the actions of their leaders. The employees will put importance on the same things that they understand the owner is concerned with.

We are always surprised when doctors book training for their staff with no intention of attending. Training is going to be the most effective when everyone hears the same information and the doctors can reinforce the message on a day-to-day basis. Life-long learning is an attitude. Every staff member should feel that the continuing education opportunity will bring something new for everyone. By participating, the doctors are sending the message that they think this is a valuable use of time and are expecting to learn something new as well.

The same applies to Trunk Shows and other special events. It is imperative that the doctors are part of the organization and execution of these days. It takes a lot of extra energy and time to prepare for these kinds of events and, it is critical that the owners support the staff and show their appreciation by being enthusiastic and present.

Patient care will be directly impacted by the example the leader sets throughout the practice. As leaders, practice owners must be careful that their actions are reflective of the actions that would like to see their employees take. From arriving to work on time and leading a quick morning huddle to ensure everyone is ready for the day, to responding with care and consideration when issues arise, the leader’s actions will be the driving force behind their employee’s decision making.

 

KELLY HRYCUSKO

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.


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Work place relationships are not always harmonious and it is natural to experience occasional disagreements and conflicts. In fact, one of the biggest challenges in any office is managing working relationships. The truth is, working with other people is hard – even when you like them! However, poor work relationships can add unwelcome psychological stress which may have a detrimental effect on work performance, motivation levels, and overall job satisfaction, so it is important to not simply try to ignore the conflict.

As consultants, we are keenly aware of the impact they can have. Much of the work we do is very dependent on these relationships being healthy. For example, it is difficult to run a staff meeting focused on improvement with employees who are more interested in pointing fingers. It is impossible to gain buy-in for a new process if the employees are not convinced that the practice owner will follow through.

Like other types of relationships, the relationships in the workplace can be improved. The onus is on the practice owner to take a leadership role in the change of dynamics in the office.

As a first step, try implementing these strategies.  As you model this behaviour to your staff, challenge them to do the same with you and their coworkers

1. Validate the Person’s Feelings Before You Do Anything Else

Before responding to a negative comment or pushback, try imagining why someone might be acting the way they are. Identify how you would feel if you were in their position, and then validate that feeling.

For example, when you ask an employee to tidy up the dispensary before they leave for the day and they reply that a co-worker should do it. Before responding, first try to identify why they might be making this request. Maybe they feel like they are always the one asked to stay late. Maybe they have a commitment after work and are feeling stressed about making it on time. “I imagine that you are feeling overwhelmed.”

I know it sounds a little hokey, but this works wonders. By trying to empathize (even if you think the person is wrong) and then validating what they’re feeling, you will be able to shift your attitude from frustration to empathy.

The employee feels heard, too. Nine times out of ten, they’ll calmly reply, “Yes, I do feel overwhelmed.” It’s like identifying the feeling takes the hot air out of the situation. Reiterate the request and perhaps ask if they would like to come in early the next day to complete the task instead of staying tonight.

2. Say What You’re Actually Thinking—and Say it Clearly

To avoid awkward conversations, use this simple formula:

the change you’d like + why the current option isn’t working + why your preference is better

For example, an employee feels like it is too much work to bill directly to insurance. Constructive feedback is fine, but complaining won’t solve the issue. Phrase your response something like, “I’d like us to brainstorm a way to make this more manageable. I’d prefer if you provided me with specific feedback about what takes so long as that will help me to implement ways to make the process more manageable for you. In order to meet the needs of our patients and to ensure you get your bonus, we need to implement direct billing.”

As you become more comfortable telling people what does or doesn’t work for you, being more assertive will become easier. Even better, it will make your working relationships stronger and more honest.

Sometimes it is difficult to change the dynamics of the relationships because they are so deeply entrenched in the way that the office operates. In a few instances, we have recommended bringing in a third party mediator to help facilitate the creation of healthier working relationships. The third party listens to everyone’s point of view and then starts bringing the parties together to “air out the laundry”. It is surprising how effective this can be as it allows all parties to felt heard and makes them more ready to move forward.

While the concept may seem foreign initially, it makes sense.  Therapists are called upon everyday to guide people through challenging personal relationships.  The strategies and tools that they employ are effective for any type of relationship.

We have recommended and seen this type of intervention in a number of our offices.  The therapist offers each individual an opportunity to vent their concerns independently so they feel heard and validated. The therapist then mediates conversations between coworkers who aren’t seeing eye to eye. The therapist provides tools and feedback to help everyone move forward.

If you are having issues with relationships in your office, start by trying to change the dynamic yourself.  If that is not successful, do not hesitate to reach out for professional help. The entire practice will benefit.

 

KELLY HRYCUSKO

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.


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