The hours of paperwork and bills in running Family Optometry business were taking their toll on Dr. Eric Dale. He loved taking care of his patients and leading his team, and he led the organization of 18 staff and three offices, including three other optometrists working with him. But he was exhausted, and he didn’t have any time to spend with his family.
When an optometrist from a neighboring community approached him about Family Optometry purchasing his practice, Dr. Dale knew it would be a great cultural fit, he just didn’t know how he could fit any more work into his exhausting schedule. “How in the world am I going to manage four different offices that are spread out?”
“How am I going to manage getting all of those different invoices and staying on top of all these bills?” he wondered. However, he knew if he couldn’t purchase this practice, the doctor would be forced to sell to a much larger practice, increasing the already stiff competition for Family Optometry.
Optometry Practice Growing in Offices, Staff and Revenue, but the Back Office Was Confused and Poorly Run
Family Optometry had grown steadily since Dr. Dale started leading the practice. When he became the owner he was only the second doctor to have worked there and he was responsible for the existing two offices. Family Optometry thrived under Dr. Dale’s leadership as he oversaw growth with a new office. At the same time he was adding offices, he recruited three optometrists. The organization was growing in offices, staff and revenue.
This growth and change did not carry over to the back-office management. “We were doing things the same way they would have been done 20 years ago and we weren’t making use of technology that was out there that could make life easier,” recounts Dr. Dale. Without technology solutions, the paper dependent process required transporting invoices between offices, writing and signing checks and bundling all of it in a “huge, huge envelope or box of papers” to be delivered to the accountant. The process was cumbersome and required time from the owner, time that could have been spent with patients. And after the patients left, there was more to do. “Once a week or so, there would be nights that I would be hanging out there for quite a while after I was done with the patients,” remarked Dr. Dale.
When the neighboring doctor offered to sell his practice, Dr. Dale knew he had to make his practice more efficient to accommodate the growth. Family Optometry hired Red Earth CPA to outsource the accounting and to transform the practice into a streamlined and paperless practice so he could accommodate the new office.
The Latest Accounting Technology Transitions Practice Away from Paper
Red Earth CPA first moved his accounting software to the cloud. This enables 24/7 login for Dr. Dale so he can review his accounts anytime, not just quarterly. A leading accounts payable app was enlisted which gave all the offices the ability to submit invoices electronically. A central e-mail account receives forwarded invoices from any office. This reduced the paper bills being transported from satellite office to the main office, increased vendor discounts and reduced late fees. In addition, every bill paid now has an owner approved audit trail showing the date and time the bill was approved and sent. The invoices are saved as pdf documents indefinitely and sorted by vendor and date, no longer requiring minutes to research. The payments to the vendors are tracked and even the cancelled checks can be recalled in the app in the event of a dispute. The approval process is via smartphone or tablet with the touch of a screen anywhere there is cell phone reception.
In addition to paperless accounting and accounts payable, a new payroll provider was utilized to minimize the onboarding pain of adding a new employee. No more new hire “paperwork” as all new hires simply fill out their information through the app. A time tracking app and credit card receipt collection software rounded out the suite of software to move his practice completely away from paper.
Outsourcing Accounting Allows Optometrist to Focus on Best Skills
Three primary outcomes have come as a result of the changes.
First, Family Optometry has transformed itself from a practice dependent on paper to a paperless practice, with tremendous time savings for the owner. Dr. Dale has saved between 20-30 hours per month! This savings of time was entirely from time spent on mundane back-office tasks. This “raise” in time has been invested with patients, staff and more on-time dinners with his family. No more spending time on bill payments, Dr. Dale now dedicates his highest and best skills to his practice.
The second result has been the freedom technology has brought. Many routine practice tasks that previously were only managed locally may now be managed remotely. “I do a lot of travelling. I love the ability to do a lot of these things in various places remotely. I’ve paid bills from all over the world. I’ve paid bills from India, I’ve paid bills from Africa.” The touchscreen payment has limited the time needed to pay vendors and review invoices thereby significantly increasing his ability to manage his practice remotely.
The third result of his change has been the growth trajectory has been permanently altered. “This is allowing me to have bigger growth targets to think about expanding the business to the degree that before I would’ve shied away from because I would’ve thought that’s going to be too much work,” exclaimed Dr. Dale. Since many of the workflow issues have been addressed with current technology solutions, the practice is now looking at options he did not previously consider. This has added “scalability” to the practice impacting their ability to compete with much larger rivals. With the processes defined, the practice can add more patients and employees easier than ever. “If the processes in place work, then you’re just working those same processes, so it’s just a little more volume.”
Dr. Dale’s family now enjoys more time with him at the dinner table. In addition to time at home, he has also been able to invest his time in new pursuits. He now helps coach his children’s Little League teams. He knows his time with his growing children is limited and he now uses his raise in time to invest in them.