If you've been a Williams Group consulting client, then you know we have a best practice called a Quarterly Walk-Through. It's pretty simple and fun! During one weekly team meeting (another best practice that we stand by) each quarter, take 30 minutes to walk, as a team, from the parking area through the entire patient path in-office, through checkout, and finally, exit the building just as your patients do every day. Have one person take notes. Everyone can contribute their thoughts about this experience. Think about sights, sounds, smells, and touch: 

  • What signage greets you and how does it look?
  • What is the message and feel of the message? 
  • Is the parking lot clean and pleasant?
  • How about the landscaping? 
  • Is the glass on the front door clear and spotless?
  • Is the handle sticky?
  • Are there bells or buzzers upon entry and, if so, how does this make you feel? 
  • Are the carpets worn or do they look fresh? 

Really get into the details! Once you've walked the whole path, make an agreement to go through that list of experiences at the next meeting, and sort them into positives and negatives. Then take the negatives and sort that pile into things you can improve and things you can't control or change. Now divvy up the ones that are within your power to change and get to it! 

Next, do an online walk-through! Same steps. At each point in a patient or potential patient journey through your digital space, make notes as a team of all the same qualities you paid attention to during the physical walk-through: 

  • Is your website easy to find, updated, and full of useful information? 
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Is it clean or cluttered? 
  • Can you find the practice Facebook page and other social media pages that you use?
  • How does the content make you feel? 
  • How about reviews?
  • Are they mostly positive or have some negative ones snuck in there recently?  

Review this list at your next meeting and go through the same sorting and action plan process as you did for your physical walk-through. 

You'll be amazed how small tweaks here and there can make all the difference in how your patients perceive your business, whether visiting in person or online. 

Looking for help with the Quarterly Walk-Through? The Executive Management Program can help you! Learn more here.


Bess Ogden

Director of Education and Training
Email Bess


Back to All Blogs


Have you ever found yourself desperate to build and maintain a positive culture? It's been proven that a strong company culture helps your employees to engage more effectively with your patients and boosts productivity within your practice. It all starts with building the foundation for your practice, identifying your core values, and hiring the right people to work for your practice. So, what are the key ingredients to building a phenomenal foundation?  

MISSION - To set the foundation of your practice for building a 5 STAR Team, you must understand what your mission is. Your vision of the practice and the care you provide for your patients - you must understand what this is and then you must live by it.  

Not sure how to develop a mission statement? Start by brainstorming with your group, words that define the value and issues that are important to you as a patient care team. Then assign someone on your team to create the first draft of your statement utilizing the defined values.  

CORE VALUES - You need to identify the core values that will help guide you and your practice in the direction to success. Set expectations, set guidelines, and understand your role in leading your team to be able to meet these expectations.  

By developing a mission, you have already set the core values that you and your team are focusing on within your practice. From here, set your expectations and guidelines based on those core values.  

PEOPLE - Evaluate your people. Are your people able to exceed your expectations? Do they understand the mission of your practice and the vision you hold? To maintain a positive culture, you certainly need people that are going to be contributors to your practice and to your team.  

If there is someone on your team who is underperforming or who may be considered "the bad egg" of the group, it may be time to part ways. Focus on your people who bring something to the table and who enlighten the atmosphere while adhering to your core values.  

ENCOURAGE - You must encourage positivity and growth. Help guide your team members to be successful by supporting them and by providing them with the encouragement, tools, and resources necessary to succeed. When we encourage growth and invest in our teams, the return on investment is substantial.  

Other ideas for building encouragement and maintaining a positive culture: team retreats and team-building activities; educational opportunities; staff compensation models that provide an incentive for reaching production goals and maintaining staff expenses.  

COMMUNICATE - Effective communication is key when it comes to setting the foundational components of an excellent team. It is about more than just telling your employees what to do. It's also about the intention behind the message and actively listening to what your team has to say. Learning how to effectively communicate and teaching your employees the keys to effectively communicating, will speak volumes and prove beneficial.  

Great opportunities for creating an environment with effective communication include the implementation of team huddles and weekly team meetings. 

ACCOUNTABILITY - When we begin creating accountability within the workplace, we see positive changes and growth. Accountability not only holds you and your team accountable for actions, but it also helps to encourage us to do bigger and better things for our organization.   

Creating accountability through leadership is something that all doctors and leaders could use training on. Even myself as a practice administrator and the provider I worked alongside would have benefitted greatly from additional insight on this. Reach out to Williams Group to review how to create accountability through leadership. 

As a Practice Management Director and Executive Management Coach with Williams Group, I am passionate about discussing the endless opportunities available for owner doctors and practice administrators to build and maintain a positive culture within their organization. Setting the foundation is the key to begin building your 5 STAR team and to building and maintaining a positive culture. It's never too late to reset your foundations.  

Let the Executive Management Program help you! Learn more here.

Michelle Bogeart

Executive Management Coach
Email Michelle


Back to All Blogs


Back in the day, us consultants would instruct our clients to create Procedure Manuals for every duty in the office. This was a daunting assignment, and we'd often allow three to six months of diligent effort to get the first draft done. The problem was, even if it did get done, the procedures would oftentimes have changed before the proverbial ink had even dried! 

So, am I saying that documented procedures are no longer recommended here at Williams Group Consulting? No! But, for goodness sakes, use all this technology we have at our fingertips! 

Tip #1  - Create a good place to keep all your procedures, not on paper! You must have a digital information center. A free Google Drive is okay, but there are issues with access and permissions unless you build a Google Workplace ($6 to $20+ per month). Office 365 is another great business option, also a paid service. You can save procedures on a shared local drive if that is an option in your practice. As an owner or manager, you must have control over who has the right to add, change, and delete stuff from your information center or chaos can ensue. 

Tip #2 – Use screen captures and video whenever possible to document procedures. We all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. Just show how you do something. Don't write a novel that no one will read. Don't worry if it isn't pretty and professional. Chances are you'll be redoing it next month, anyway! We all know how quickly things can change in this industry. 

Tip #3 – Commit to regular use, review, and updates of your procedures. Delete them when they are outdated. Organize them according to a system that makes sense to your team (By role? By department?) There is no perfect organization, so just pick one and stick to it. Set a goal to add one new procedure a week and report on it during your weekly team meeting. 

Tell us what the current state of your procedures resources are right now. Do you struggle with this best practices or do you have it dialed? Any tips you can share? 

Need help getting your procedures created? Contact Williams Group today.


Bess Ogden

Director of Education and Training
Email Bess


Back to All Blogs


While out shopping the other day, I came across a t-shirt that said optometry. Actually, that’s what my optician brain thought it said. What is actually said was optimist. Because my first reaction was a disappointment, I left without buying the shirt, but I’ve since been thinking about the word optimist and how it still applies to the eye care professionals I get the opportunity to work with. Those that have remained optimistic continue to succeed. It’s a major component to being able to deal with the challenges they’ve had and the obstacles optometry practices continue to face. As a Practice Management Director for Williams Group, I am here to remind doctors of their successes, so they can remain optimistic. Although we are also here for the regular doses of reality too. The right combination of optimistic and realistic allows you to balance and put the right things in motion, at the right time.

I encourage you to take the time to meet with your team and reflect on the last year. During a crisis is when we are able to see strong points and weak ones with more clarity. Write down what worked really well and what didn’t. For instance, financial and payroll reporting due to the PPP loans was either very easy to attain or it was difficult. Working with the right accounting platforms or the relationships you have with your accountant or bank was critical. Take the time to think through your experience and make the decision to make things better moving forward, so the next time, it's easier and less stressful. It can be much easier for you to remain optimistic.

Want to get optimistic about your practice again? Contact us today.

Ellie Rogers

Practice Management Director
Email Ellie


Back to All Blogs


HEA PracticeAdvantage Can Accelerate Your Growth, Complement Other HEA Benefits

HEA PracticeAdvantage is a broad-based program designed to help independent eye care professionals become better business owners. PracticeAdvantage provides a multiphase membership that includes an initial 12-month term, with automatic continuation thereafter to facilitate the practice’s continued growth and evolution.

Here are some of the unique program features:

  • Assigned PracticeAdvantage Coach who holds a monthly strategic planning session with you.
  • Unlimited interim coaching consultations on an on-demand basis, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm CST online learning library with a customized curriculum for each staff member
  • Proprietary Optometric Success Center Learning (OSCL) online platform
  • 10 online learning library licenses per registration
  • Downloadable tools to help you manage and grow your practice
  • Live group coaching sessions facilitated by a PracticeAdvantage Trainer to ensure staff successfully grasp concepts
    * Additional consulting services are also available to HEA members at a reduced fee.

Make more of your HEA membership benefits, too, as HEA PracticeAdvantage coaches can provide guided support and coordinate with your HEA Solutions Specialist in leveraging all HEA program benefits, such as regular business reviews to ensure optimal utilization of HEA’s industry-leading discounts on all product and service categories, consolidated billing, SmartData Solution practice analytics dashboard, Practice Boosters to aid with practice expansion and diversification, and The Coding Coach billing and coding toolkit to aid in optimizing medical revenue.

How PracticeAdvantage Helped A New Owner Get The Right Start

An ophthalmologist whom Paige Stephens, OD, met fairly recently made her an offer too good to refuse. As he began contemplating his retirement, he wanted her to take over the optometry business that was operating in his ophthalmology practice in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

For the 2017 graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry, this was quite a career leap. After her graduation, Dr. Stephens completed a residency at the Veterans Administration in Albuquerque and then landed in a private optometry practice in the Denver area where she worked for two years. She met the MD, and he “gave me an offer I wasn’t expecting. I hadn’t actually been looking for it,” she says. But in October 2020, shortly after their meeting, she became the owner.

In her new role, she was “figuring things out on the fly” when it came to hiring, implementing protocols and purchasing clinical supplies. The optical is owned by a third party. “I figured out that I needed a buying group,” she says, and soon learned that Healthy Eyes Advantage offered her so much more than savings. It offered her connections to organizations that were able to help her get up and running more quickly. Indeed, Dr. Stephens joined the HEA National Advisory Board as its newest member, bringing the perspective of a new OD owner to the group.

She sought consulting help through HEA’s PracticeAdvantage program, seeking input on everything from insurance and credentialing questions to equipment purchases and how to set up a practice to attract medical patients.

 “I was making big decisions right off the bat, so I appreciated the ability to lean on PracticeAdvantage as my advisor in getting things set up,” she says.

No time to learn from mistakes

The school of hard knocks teaches some very expensive lessons, and Dr. Stephens was hoping to avoid those. “I wanted to get to the most credible information as quickly as possible. We do learn from our mistakes, but I’d prefer to absorb as much knowledge from people with experience who can help me avoid missteps,” she says. “I have not been shy about asking for help.”

PracticeAdvantage was able to help her right from the start. For example, Dr. Stephens has a real passion for older patients and those with medical needs. But the practice had been scheduling patients every 30 minutes so that tradition needed to change. “Scheduling and billing were not things I had had responsibility for, but my PracticeAdvantage coach helped me with set up and marketing so that I am now running an efficient practice.”

Another benefit she immediately began using was the online learning center. “I have employees that were with the practice when I acquired it as well as new hires, and I have everyone enrolled in the learning center. They’re all doing the modules on how to bill and code correctly,” she says, creating a level set of skills for every member of the staff.

The learning modules have also allowed her to hire staff members for their personality and commitment. “I have brand new, green employees who never worked in eye care, and they’re learning how to be technicians and work up a patient. It’s been such a great wealth of knowledge for me,” she says.

How PracticeAdvatage Consultants Helped Modernize an Established Practice

Since Dr. Ashley Lamm David began working with consulting coaches in 2017, her practice has seen 29.7 percent income growth (not including Cares Act funds in 2020) and 29.8 percent growth in receipts per exam.

Ashley Lamm David, OD, knew a lot about the practice she was buying into in San Angelo, Texas. Her father had started it in this rural west Texas town of 120,000 people. “I came home 15 years ago to join the practice, and I started taking on more of an administrative role,” she says. Many things needed updating, from charts to billing procedures and HIPAA manuals. “It had been run a certain way for 30 years,” she says.

In 2014, she bought her father out entirely and became the sole owner. She began making plans to hit growth benchmarks, which included the construction of a new, larger space. “The old practice was a 2,000-square foot, three-exam room office, and it was very inefficient. The new office is 6,000 square feet, with more exam lanes and a pretesting room,” she says.

Dr. David had begun consulting with the Williams Group in 2017, in preparation for making the process and transition go as smoothly as possible. Of course, no one anticipated  COVID-19. “Navigating a two-month shutdown was very humbling,” she says, but she heeded the advice that her father had always counseled: “Do the work, take good care of patients, and good things will happen.”

Her coach at Williams Group provided her a broad perspective, too. “I only know my practice; I don’t have a visual outside of that,” she says. Without a broader perspective, she found herself second-guessing whether she was doing all she could.

“I hold my employees accountable and can track that through training and meetings, but no one holds me accountable. I was up for growing and learning,” she says. “I was eager to leverage the best ideas out there to achieve the goals I wanted.”

Clinical experts

“Many of us who went into optometry also had science undergraduate backgrounds. But we have to wear a completely different hat to run a business and manage personalities,” she says. She was committed to making her practice a success but transferring that vision to the rest of the team was harder. “How do I get employees and even patients to love this practice the way I do?”

She identified some opportunities right away. “I hadn’t really spent time in my dad’s practice since I was in high school, and even though he was a great clinician, I quickly found that we needed to move the practice into modern times with respect to quality measures, coding, billing, and staff training.”

With many of these issues, Dr. David was beyond her comfort zone. “From being involved with the state board, I knew how important it is to pick the right mentors and know the questions to ask,” she says. Her business coach provided many of the answers she needed.

For example, the patient schedule could be feast or famine. It often seemed that staff wasn’t filling in for cancellations, even though the practice was booked two or three months out. Some confirmation that each person on the staff has responsibilities that overlap and impact the patient experience was a start. “From the front desk to technicians, everyone in the office has an equal role in ensuring a steady flow of patients to improve practice operations,” Dr. David says. Medical technicians also began pre-appointing patients, which also helps create a more consistent flow.  The result is a more predictable, balanced daily schedule, avoiding the extremes in scheduling that the practice had before.

“Let’s try it”

Navigating staff challenges with two doctors and 17 support staff required some encouragement to those who worried about implementing change. But Dr. David took the lead, telling her team, “If we implement something new, evaluate it and determine it’s not working for us, we’ll move on. Just because we bring on a new idea doesn’t mean that it’s the rule from here on.”

Changes, tracking programs and holding themselves and each other accountable are part of the hour-long staff meeting held every Wednesday morning. “We talk about how to streamline tasks so that it’s easier for everyone on the team,” she says.

Similarly, some of the longer-term staff wondered why they needed to take courses through the online training center. “I encourage staff to look for the pearls, just like I do when I go to CE. I may already know much of the material, but I’m listening to hear how it can be implemented in my practice,” she says. Hearing her approach has made them more open-minded to identifying time-savings versus simply checking the box that they’ve done the training.

She has also encouraged her staff members to observe one another and learn from each other. “I’ll tell the medical technicians if they have downtime to go stand in the front office. See and learn how we pull insurance and how we schedule. Let’s figure out how we can save our teammates because we succeed or fail together.”

A consultant and a booster

Dr. David works to validate the good work that the staff is doing, recognizing that pay and benefits are important to them, but so is the feeling of being valued. As the owner, she needs a little of that herself. “During the shutdown, there was such comfort in knowing that I had someone to confide in and talk with [coach Bess Ogden]. It’s easy to feel alone, and she often reassured me,” she adds.

It’s been helpful relying on Ogden’s experienced eye in terms of practice benchmarks and ongoing commitment to the practice’s goals. “I’m netting more out of my practice. Before, whatever was left over after I paid the bills was my pay. But she has given me benchmarks for spending in categories so that we can budget everything more carefully,” she says. Even a simple step such as creating a budget can make it easier to plan.

Dr. David says that she’s also grateful for someone who has a keen interest in her practice’s success. “When I’m fortunate enough to be busy, I spend my whole day in front of patients. So the challenge with staff training is keeping them on the same page. An hour-long meeting once a week is not enough,” she says. Now she can ensure that her staff is cross trained – without having to develop those materials. When an employee asks for something that isn’t stipulated in the contract or manual – say, restructuring the bonus incentive -- Dr. David has a reliable source she can go to with her ideas.

She credits her relationship with her coach as a key factor in why she’s hitting her practice goals on time or early – even with the COVID slowdown.

How PracticeAdvantage Consultants Helped Turn A Practice Around

Evan Bragg, OD, was facing a terrible moment in the Wynnewood, Oklahoma, a practice he had owned for nearly 30 years and had worked in for 35 years. Serious problems with some personnel were forcing him to take out $20,000 loans every few months for operating capital. The situation was dire when he brought in Williams Group to help rectify the situation.

“We knew we needed help, but we didn’t know how serious the problems were,” he says. The good news is that Williams Group was able to help with everything from investigating the source of the problem, removing the people who were at the root of that problem, and rehiring and training staff who were dedicated to helping the practice succeed.

Dr. Bragg says his new manager is fabulous – smiling, committed to patients and caring about the practice. Williams Group worked with billing staff so that bills went out correctly, rejected claims were refiled promptly, and payments were posted correctly.

They even showed him how effective his prescribing from the chair was. “Having the doctor and the optical in agreement means that our per-patient sales are higher. Most of the time, when I prescribe an upgrade in the exam room, the opticians can make that sale.”

That’s not to say it was easy, but the results have been impressive. The practice made the transition to electronic health records, something Dr. Bragg had wanted to do for a long time but didn’t feel he could afford. He has also brought in an OCT, another long-hoped-for addition. Recently, the practice began using a patient engagement platform to send automated reminders and messages to patients, further freeing up staff time.

With those changes, and by training technicians to be scribes, the exams and charts go more quickly, leading to faster billing and reimbursement. “Some of it has been a matter of me letting go of the details,” he says. He still reviews plans and purchases, but the bank account balance shows him that the problems that plagued him are gone. He has added three patient days per month in his main office to accommodate the increase in patient flow.

As an illustration of how impressive the financial results were, consider this: Dr. Bragg did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program funding in 2020 because his revenue during this period, which included being closed to routine care for a period, was higher than it was in the same periods in 2019. It was a great relief, he says, not to be constantly worried about the state of the practice. “It’s calmer, more profitable, and more relaxed. And now we’re at a point where the good momentum is accelerating,” he says. It’s difficult to ask for help – but Williams Group assured him that he would have the freedom to choose his direction – and they have delivered on their promises to help him train the staff and grow the practice.

Are you ready to accelerate your growth? Contact Williams Group today.

View the entire Solutions Magazine! Contact Healthy Eyes Advantage.


When it comes to your dispensary, do you know what you don’t know? Are you an expert at both delivering the highest-level patient experience within the optical while seamlessly navigating the vast sea of sight, style, board space, and Cost of Goods (COGs) management?

The reality is there are a number of critical things we don’t know about our businesses. While we can never know it all, it is important that we constantly strive to improve our knowledge and skills.

Let’s say you are the Optical Manager and/or optician, and your employer (often the doctor) is looking to you to enhance optical performance for the practice. First, what does your day look like? Are you in the throes of the perpetual patient care/work balance tornado, trying to figure out how you are going to provide five-star patient care; stay on top of new staff training; manage your numerous optical vendors; and grow optical sales despite unexpected challenges, such as those presented by COVID-19? To top it all off, you are tasked with maintaining COGs at 24% or less! How do you manage it all?

The HEA PracticeAdvantage team, a partnership between Healthy Eyes Advantage and Williams Group, understands your challenges and appreciates your successes. Our personal experience and more than 30 years of working with independent eye care professionals can help you thrive.

Here are three tips to help you level up your dispensary:

  1. Ensure you have a solid inventory tracking system in place, with reporting that is accurate and up to date. This helps guarantee your dispensary is not over- or under-stocked. We highly recommend powerful inventory management software that utilizes Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Smart technology will streamline your production and empower you to have confidence in your COGs management.
  2. Maintain monthly invoice and statement reconciliation. Thousands of dollars are lost annually simply by overlooking this important step. Set a monthly date and time to consistently reconcile your monthly vendor statements, credits and refunds. You might just be surprised. HEA’s consolidated billing makes this process simple.
  3. You cannot manage what you do not measure. There’s a great deal of information to keep track of in a successful optical and a number of critical decisions that must be made to keep your optical growing. Leveraging an analytics tool like HEA’s SmartData Solutions (SDS) dashboard facilitates this process. SDS pulls your optical sales information automatically from your PM system, helping you understand key information like capture rate, AR percentage, and your top selling frame lines. You may feel as though you don’t have enough time to leverage a data tool but doing so will allow you to make critical decisions more efficiently and effectively, saving you time and money in the long run.

Leveling up your optical is our passion because your success is our success. Our HEA PracticeAdvantage Program, with its live coaching, strategic planning, and online, on-demand training Optometric Success Center Learning, will help take not only your optical but also your entire team to the next level and will give everyone in the practice the confidence necessary to succeed in creating an exceptional patient experience. 

Want more tips like these to help you level up your dispensary? Get access to Vision Web's OD Boot Camp! 5 steps to expand your scope and profit. This boot camp includes the resources you need to move your practice forward!

Ready to level up your dispensary? Contact Williams Group today.

Learn more about PracticeAdvantage with Healthy Eyes Advantage.

Join Vision Web's OD Boot Camp to begin expanding your scope and profit! 


Healthy Eyes Advantage is the next-generation marketplace for independent ECPs, delivering the most competitive vendor pricing and unique benefits to more than 10,000 independent eye care professionals nationwide. Williams Group Consulting is the eye care industry’s premier consulting firm, delivering innovative, relationship-based consulting, practice transition consulting, and accounting/payroll processing, to thousands of clients across the U.S. and Canada.


Robin Elliott

President of Consulting
Email Robin


Back to All Blogs


Partnerships help practices realize their potential

Williams Group’s business principles are summarized in four pillars: Economics, People, Information, and Culture (EPIC). EPIC encompasses everything we analyze when we review a practice: schedule, staff, financials, and the level of leadership provided by the doctor/owner. This analysis leads to the development of a strategic training plan, encompassing anything and everything to do with managing a practice.

Williams Group’s goal is to make its services accessible to all practices based on their time, needs, and financial situation. A $99 monthly subscription provides full access to the online Optometric Success Center Learning library and live group training sessions.  The next level is the Executive Management program, which provides a more in-depth approach to consulting on practice needs. The crème de la crème is the intensive growth program, which takes a proactive and involved approach to helping guide the practice. Williams Group also offers a very successful fast-start program for doctors who wish to open a practice cold.

One key to practice success is simple but often overlooked:  the doctor has to make a decision to be responsible for what goes on in their practice. That includes the optical -- not being involved is putting the staff in a position to fail and then wondering why they did.

A practice also needs great vendors that support their eyewear sales. Williams Group partners with GSRx for several reasons. First, they are passionate about helping independent practices. Second, their approach combines excellent pricing, quality, and service, and their products provide exceptional value to the patient. Third, they arm practices with programs that support their growth. For example, GSRx helps practices improve their optical capture rates in several ways, including an entire program to help with multiple pair sales and customized marketing materials. 

Williams Group recognizes all the changes and competitive pressures affecting independent eye care today. But in our view, all of them can be addressed successfully.  A major advantage held by the independent Eye Care Provider (ECP) is that they can mold what they do to the needs of the patient. In some other models, they try to mold the needs of the patient to what they are willing to deliver. Independent ECPs are in a position to create a sanctuary of trust and fill many roles that have a wonderful impact on patients’ lives. GSRx shares Williams Group’s enthusiasm for independent practices, and the desire to help them realize their full potential.

Realize your practices potential with the help of Williams Group today!


When some independent eye care professionals (IECPs) hear the word consultant, the immediate reaction is some form of skepticism. They have a sense of when and why practices need consultants – and they feel that they are either not at that point, can’t afford the services, or don’t want to involve others in their business.

Yet experienced and effective consultants offer tremendous business advice and insights that can help IECPs see their goals more clearly and reach them faster. As Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA) CEO Jim McGrann says, it’s important that IECPs connect with consultants who can discern the practice owner’s needs and wants, customize an action plan and remain accountable for results. After having analyzed the services and experiences of many consultants, HEA launched the PracticeAdvantage program with Williams Group. 

With PracticeAdvantage, HEA members can make use of an array of consulting services and tools to differentiate their practices, be more profitable, and achieve their personal and professional goals at an affordable price. This program is designed to make consulting comfortably available to all HEA members.

Ready to scale up your success? Contact Williams Group today.

View the entire Solutions Magazine! Contact Healthy Eyes Advantage.


#1: Hiring a consultant is expensive and time-consuming.

Fact: Not only can hiring a consultant can reap a fast, significant and sustainable return on investment, HEA’s PracticeAdvantage program is affordably priced to put these services within reach.

 HEA’s PracticeAdvantage allows HEA members to approach consulting with a time and financial commitment that is precisely right for them.

“I don’t think there’s any piece of equipment you can purchase that will have a quicker or greater return on investment over time,” says Gilan Cockrell, OD, FAAO, CEO of Williams Group. “The expectation to see 22 percent growth in total revenue in one year is realistic, and some clients have seen 100 percent growth.” Over the years, he and his group have run numerous ROI calculations and practice performance evaluations on pieces of equipment, “and I haven’t seen anything that has the same ROI as a consultant. I’d say that the only thing that would make engaging a consultant an unwise cost is if you don’t follow through on implementation.”

The benefits come because the consultants work with IECPs on precisely the issues that are creating the largest pain points. So many business owners feel an immediate sense of relief when they realize that remedies are within reach, says Williams Group President of Consulting Robin Elliott. “Some owners want or need a more intensive program or integrated practice help. Others may simply need staff training and to touch base monthly with a coach for questions that arise. Either way, we listen to your needs and then provide options that work for your circumstances,” she says.

Just as consultants’ plans are not one-size-fits-all, neither is the time commitment. To start, an IECP will need to gather some financial data from their profit and loss statements and other financial and policy documents. From there, the PracticeAdvantage coach works with the IECP and key staff members to formulate a plan to review and decide on actions. If there are multiple action steps, they can be implemented at a pace that is comfortable for the practice.

PracticeAdvantage coaches also bring their considerable expertise in other matters. For example, as business owners were scrambling to learn how to navigate the Paycheck Protection Program and other government programs, many were trying to do so as they could, gleaning information from various sources on the web, Dr. Cockrell says. Consultant Shaun Damico picked up his phone and began calling various government agencies and representatives, investing his time to get the answers his clients needed. “Consultants can commit the time to study those issues that you don’t have time to,” he says.

#2: Hiring a consultant means I’m unable to manage my practice myself.

Fact: HEA’s PracticeAdvantage program enables you to tap into the experiences of others to accelerate your own timetable to success.

Dr. Cockrell says, “Some business owners engage a consultant because they need help to improve their practice’s operations and systems, while many other optometrists may already be strong in this area. But a coach can help by taking the experience of others – not one or two others but hundreds of others – to accelerate the timeline and reduce the chances of miscues. It’s a chance to have a second (or third) set of eyes look at the business and help determine how to best incorporate the changes that will help the practice owner expedite success.”

Consultant Elliott agrees, noting that nearly every IECP comes into business ownership as a neophyte. “You don't know what you don't know,” and there’s no shame in saying so. “Not admitting that you might need help in certain areas is a greater danger, and when there’s such tremendous opportunity that HEA offers with PracticeAdvantage, why not feed off those years of experience?”

#3: A consultant will attempt to remake my practice to fit his or her cookie-cutter mold.

Fact: PracticeAdvantage coaches do not come in with a preconceived approach; plans are formulated collaboratively with the practice owner.

Elliott emphasizes that the owners’ goals are the consultants’ goals. “We want to help your practice support the life you want, so first we help you define your goals and then we work together to make the fundamental changes that will help you achieve those goals.”

Consultant Bess Ogden knows that the notion of implementing change can initially be intimidating, but it’s important to understand that PracticeAdvantage consultants don’t have preconceived notions of what a practice is or should be. “We don’t have one solution that we try to apply in all situations; rather, we have a broad range of proven best practices that have helped IECPs in many different situations. We learn about the client and what they need and want, and only then do we work collaboratively with the practice owner to develop a game plan for fulfilling the owner’s vision,” she says.

Maintaining a flexible mindset is key to this process. “We might say, ‘Based on our work in other practices, let’s take these next steps.’ These are proven strategies that have worked elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean the practice is obligated to follow the identical formula, and the decision-making power remains with the owner. “ 

#4: My business is too small to make it worthwhile.

Fact: Consulting isn’t limited to mega practices. If you’ve got goals and want to reach them efficiently and more quickly, working with an advisor can help.

Damico says that the first question he asks prospective clients is what their wishes are. One client said she wanted to pay herself $100,000 rather than the $50,000 she paid herself last year. Upon reviewing her benchmarks for revenue and expenses, he realized that if the practice owner simply paid herself first and made modest changes to her spending, her current practice revenue was already more than sufficient to support her income goal. The problem wasn’t revenue but that the practice revenue was being diverted to outsized budgets for cost of goods and other expense categories, he says. “What we do is analyze what you want – whether that’s how much money you want to net, how many patients you want to see each day, or how many days a week you want to work. Then we can reverse engineer the way to get there.”

“Help us understand what’s most important to you, and we can help ensure that your practice supports the life you want,” is the Williams Group mantra that best summarizes what the group can do for its clients, says Elliott.

Similarly, those IECPs who feel that they’re not quite ready for a consultant or aren’t prepared to make the time investment in the process will appreciate the customizable aspect of PracticeAdvantage. “That’s a question we ask: how much time to do you want to invest? Some practices want a monthly call to check in or would like to make use of our online learning library or staff training. We can do that,” says Elliott. “And if a business owner needs us to be more integrated into the office with weekly meetings or integration of the plan, we can make that happen, too. We give you options of what’s achievable,” she says.

#5: Consultants don’t understand the intricacies of my business. 

Fact: PracticeAdvantage coaches specialize in understanding the intricacies of business – and they have the experience of working with many different types of practices to customize a plan for each client.

Although every eye care business has unique qualities, there are common threads and trends among them, such as staffing concerns. “Before we created our online learning library, Williams Group conducted a needs assessment with its clients. Training for the staff and human resources support are almost always at the top of everyone’s list, says Robin Elliott

Some practice owners default to this myth because they themselves don’t quite recognize the intricacies of their business that may be hampering their ability to fully reach their goals or even to precisely define those goals. An advisor can help. “Many clients can’t articulate their goals, but they do have a sense of their pain points: turnover, earnings, the work environment, staff training,” Elliott says. “They don’t know how to narrow these down into attainable action points, and that’s where we play an integral role in giving definition to the plan.”

Experienced consultants look at so many profit and loss statements, employee assessments, and other key measures that they can bring a new perspective to someone who feels stuck by what he or she has tried before or what a friend has done.

Consultant Damico adds that while he typically does a deep-dive financial analysis, that’s not essential to getting started. “The first thing we do beyond basic data-gathering is have a conversation about the practice. Initially, the pain point may be that the IECP feels that patients are waiting too long, but as we discuss it further, we discover other areas that are contributing to that wait time. Then we can help prioritize a plan of action.”

That cannot be achieved by observation alone. “In order for us to help you, you must help us to understand the intricacies of your business. Thus, we take the time to get to know your goals, culture, financials, etc. and only then do we provide you with a plan of action.”

#6. The results don’t last.

Fact: With continuity, lasting results are achieved and cultural changes take hold.

Consultant Ogden has worked with many longtime clients who have successfully achieved such fundamental change and improvement in previous phases of working together that her current interactions with them tend to be brief – but still highly valuable. “The continuity value is huge. I may spend just one hour with them every four weeks, but I know what they’re working on and can help with course corrections as needed,” she says. The inclusion of Williams Group’s online learning library is a significant asset here, and it’s available to HEA members through PracticeAdvantage. “I may see that there’s a new hire, and we’ll quickly plug that person into the online training. There’s continuity there insofar that all staff members are trained similarly.”

Plus, as practices evolve and goals shift, a consultant can help a business make the small adjustments that are needed to advance to the next level more quickly.

With businesses that have experienced backsliding, that happens if accountability isn’t built into the program. “We work to teach everyone the leadership skills to manage their goals. We can teach good goal-setting and create accountability so that the business has the follow-through that is necessary for success,” Damico says.

It’s also important to consider the alternative: not taking action. “Maybe you want to keep your business small, and this is OK,” says Elliott. “However, we can help you optimize efficiencies and patient retention in a way that keeps your schedule full. PracticeAdvantage is designed to be an affordable program that gives you the control to design your life based on your lifestyle, personal and professional preferences, and financial needs. And… if you have dreams of growing into a million-dollar practice or even more, we can help you strategically grow to meet this goal too.”

Learn more about practice consultants. Contact Williams Group today.

View the entire Solutions Magazine! Contact Healthy Eyes Advantage.


Your team is the biggest asset in your practice.  Take a look at your balance sheet and see how much money is directly tied to them.  A great majority of your profit can be attributed to them because of their skills, talents, demeanor, and reputation with patients.  But, do you know how happy or satisfied they are in their current role?  Think about it as a health check-up for your practice.  Most of us are accustomed to continued, routine care for our bodies (especially the eyes!), but have you checked in mentally with them lately?  Team members want to be heard, they want to feel as if they are making a difference and have the right tools to complete their job effectively.  They may have a great idea for reducing inefficiencies in your patient flow.  They want to hear that you support and are proud of the work they have accomplished.  Their production may improve greatly just by creating a clean, comfortable workspace for them or offering continuing education opportunities to further their knowledge and career with your practice.  We can help by offering a platform for your staff to voice those preferences.

Williams Group can help identify pillars or areas where your staff may be feeling less than satisfied by giving them a safe place to voice their needs and opinions.  What would be better yet, would be to hear your staff are thriving and look forward to their workday, every day.  Would you want that for your team?  However, if the outcome is not a perfect work environment, we can partner with you to turn the corner by utilizing a combination of assessments, giving you and the staff guidance along the way.  A well-oiled team who works effectively together not only reduces your staff overhead costs by repeat hiring and onboarding costs but also produces a happy work environment for you and ultimately the patients who come through your doors.

Ready to take your practice to the next level? Contact us today.


Michele Korth

Practice Management Coordinator
Email Michele


Back to All Blogs