You CAN Afford an Optical Manager

By Wendy Buchanan

Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of “I can do it myself!  Why would I pay someone to do this?” and as a business owner, I was certainly no exception to this way of thinking.

As I work closely with more optometrists, I notice a commonality of slow burnout as they try to run a business, provide comprehensive eye exams, manage their teams, and tackle all the administrative work that comes with this. 

Family time takes a hit. I have witnessed eye doctors spending their weekends reviewing and buying frame inventory. 

This may work for the short term but not when you want to build a sustainable business model. 

RPA.  What are your revenue producing activities?

As a practice owner, one of the best analyses you can do in your office is review your daily schedule for a week. Where are you spending your time? Are you buying your frame inventory, meeting with sales reps, paying bills, and spending time with other non-revenue producing tasks that you could delegate to your top manager or optician?

The business of optometry comes down to three variables:

1. Revenue per patient

2. Number of patients per day

3. Doctor hours per week

As an optometrist, what if you focused on revenue by increasing your doctors’ hours per week? This would ultimately increase the number of patients you serve per day. Then you provide training and empower your team to grow your revenue per patient with eyewear sales. 

What Would it Take to Pay Top Talent?

A managerial role can be promoted from within your existing talent pool, or you can attract someone new to your team to take the lead. If you have a driven and knowledgeable team member, this could be a great career promotion and it saves you bringing on a new team member. Promotions come with an increase in salary. Just sayin’!

Some practice owners shy away from paying top salaries for exceptional people as they get caught up with the annual compensation number. I have found that if we break this number down to monthly and weekly goals, it is manageable and makes more sense.


How much would you have to pay to have someone to take over the management and sales of your optical gallery? If the average optician/office manager is making $60,000 per year and your average eyeglass sale is $450.00, you would only need to sell 133 more pairs of glasses per year. That breaks down to 11pairs/month or 3 pairs per week just to break even.

But… it gets better than that. 

With the added time that you have in your schedule, you would be increasing your doctor days and the number of patients you serve. 

As a practice owner, if you added a half-day revenue producing Doctor Day per week to your schedule and you were able to see five patients for a comprehensive eye exam each day, you have just provided your key people with the opportunity to style and sell more eyeglasses to every patient added to your schedule.

If your practice is generating an industry average of $375/eye exam, you are now adding approximately $1900 per week in revenue. 

It’s Not Always about the Money!

Or is it? It would be short-sighted not to believe that compensation is important to many people. Strategic business plans include sales goals that cannot be met without people. 

Servers in the hospitality industry are rewarded through tips and the amount is typically indicative of the level of service they provide. Optometry sales is a service business and as such, your top talent should also be rewarded for driving the business and bottom-line profit in addition to their salary!

The Great Reflection

Attracting and retaining good employees is a real challenge right now. Call it the “Great Resignation “or call it the “Great Reflection”. Pay is not the only motivator. Through the pandemic people have done some soul searching with whether they feel valued in their jobs or are they only creating a successful business for someone else.

People are asking themselves, what makes me happy? What truly satisfies me? Am I enjoying my work?

A Gartner survey that included more than 3,500 employees found that 65% of people said the pandemic made them rethink the place that they work, and 56% said that they wanted to contribute more to society. 

Invest in Your Team

As employers, investing in your team members with a healthy salary and offering the opportunity to enhance their skill set are key motivating factors to have them want to work with you and want to stay working with you.

If people are going to make a move to your office, they want to be part of a practice that is making a difference and they want to know that they will have the tools and support to be successful in their job.

When your people are happy and compensated well, your business will be successful and may even exceed your sales goals. An investment in your team will have an immediate and long-term payback.

Check out the July-August issue of Optik magazine for Wendy’s article!

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