Profile: Dr. Steve Schoemer, OD

A Major Practice Management Success Story

Practice: Vision Concepts

Location: Springfield, TN

Dr. Steve Schoemer, an optometrist twenty miles outside of Nashville, Tennessee, had a cash flow problem. Although his practice was growing 10-20 percent every year, his practice wasn’t organized or efficient enough to handle the problem.

”I was staff heavy and was having problems with staff management,” said Dr. Schoemer, “I didn’t feel I was making the money I could be making given the size of my practice.”

He had been in practice for 10 years and tried managing everything himself. He found that the combination of managing the staff and being the doctor was a very difficult situation to be in. He contacted a number of practice management consulting firms before settling on the one he felt could handle his problems.

“The gentleman that came out was professional and to the point. My first contact with him was over the phone and I could feel that he understood the problems I was having and that he had some answers for them. He was confident and that made me feel confident. When he came to the office it took him about 30 minutes to correctly evaluate everyone and all our problems. I was beginning to think he was psychic. I could see that he was so thoroughly familiar and knowledgeable in the area of practice management that problems I might never be able to solve, he and his company could figure out in no time at all,” he said.

Dr. Schoemer has found tremendous success through taking the step of bringing in practice management consultants to his practice. “They helped with my cash flow problem as soon as my consulting started. I began showing a profit every month and have shown a profit ever since I started, except for the first 3 months after I moved into my new office. This month I am showing a large profit and next month we are just going to practically blow the doors off. I’m excited. I may never have been able to build my own office without [their] help,” he exclaimed.

And the cash flow problem has been thoroughly handled. Dr. Schoemer said, “The gross has more than doubled. The year before I signed up, my gross was $370,000. The year after was $480,000.” Shortly after that he had raised his gross to over $750,000.
“Several other important things have happened as well. I have a management system in place that I am so excited about. We know how to hire the right people, which is a big relief. Before I was afraid to lose any staff member and therefore felt like they were holding me hostage. We have more new patients than we’ve ever had and our internal marketing is phenomenal. We’re very efficient, we know how to manage, we’re organized and we’re having a great time. A lot of the old stresses are gone,” he said.

A key action that eliminated those “old stresses” for Dr. Schoemer was by removing day-to-day operations from his zone of responsibility and delegating those to an office manager. This enabled Dr. Schoemer to concentrate on delivering quality care to his patients.

Most doctors are familiar with the problems extant when dealing with managed care systems. Dr. Schoemer also got those under control.

“I’ve been able to stop taking certain plans that were poor reimbursers. I’ve even had some plans come back and offer me more money because they get such a good response from our office. Our patients go out of this office with the best in service and products. This provides me with a great peace of mind. We’re the number one office in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky for selling the AR coating and the scratch coating. This is a direct result of having a well trained staff. We use a nationwide lab and we’re doing an incredible number. We get people to buy the top quality lenses and frames whether they have insurance or not. I no longer feel like I’m a hostage to insurance companies,” he said.

Dr. Schoemer offers some advice to practicing optometrists,”I would have done this program much sooner if I knew then what I know now. It only took a few months for me to make the cost of the program back. My advice would be to take a serious look at doing something now as opposed to later, or never.”

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