Optometry TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More)

December 26, 2012

By Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcel Business and Career consultant

The importance of TEAM never fails to ring true throughout the sports world. This is why every underdog has a chance in every game and why some of the top teams in college football get beat by unranked opponents with half the skill set.

We all find ourselves turning to those games where the upset is about to occur. So why does a team with so much talent end up getting beaten by a less talented team?

Many times it has to do with how the teams play together as a unit and not how one individual player carries the game.

In optometry this is strikingly similar. Whether you are starting a practice, joining a practice, or if you own a practice, your team is one of the key components of success.

The optometry team is made up of four team members who are chosen by the team captain, who is the optometrist. The optometrist is player No. 1 and must fill his or her roster with the other positions of a certified public accountant (CPA), attorney, and financial adviser.

When choosing the team, the optometrist must take into consideration a couple of key skills the team members must have.

1. Certified public accountant (CPA)—When interviewing accountants, there are a couple of key questions that must be answered for the accountant to make the team. What is their experience working with optometrists? Are they licensed to practice before the IRS? Do they assist with tax planning? Are they capable of giving business-to-business comparisons of other optometry practices to gauge practice success? Will they defend you in an audit of the IRS? Are they capable of managing the practice books?

2. Attorney—You either love them or hate them. The attorney you need to learn to love is a contract attorney, especially for practice transitions of associate to ownership. They can also be very helpful in verifying that your employment and policy manual are stated in ways that are enforceable and will not get you into legal trouble. Many practices run into lawsuits over staffing issues or general liability rather than medical malpractice. The right attorney will make sure you are protected.

3. Financial adviser—Early on in my career, I was guilty of thinking I was an expert in financial management. Many optometrists manage their own money and financial decisions in their “spare” time. This works good if you are on a first-year optometrist salary and the only thing you have to manage is your student debt. However, when you hit the turning point of financial positive momentum, it is far better to have an expert who is managing your money for you. With the right financial adviser you do not need to worry about your children having money for college or worry about having to practice optometry until you are 75. The right financial adviser will take the burden off you, which allows you to focus on your practice.

Unlike golf, optometry is a team sport that involves picking the right players for your team. You may be an all-star optometrist, but without supporting positional players you will most likely lag behind those who have put together the dream team.

There are many great positional players all around the country. With the ability to be mobile and do business over the Internet, the boundaries of your city are no longer the limits to who you can draft for your team.

My financial adviser is a state away, and I have met him once face-to-face. He and his company have been the best addition to my team. Do not be afraid to find and use the best.

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