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We all have some extra time on our hands, but it doesn’t mean we can sit around and wait. On the contrary, for many of us we need to act now to ensure our businesses survive this short-term crisis. Staying put isn’t an option and while we shouldn’t be seeing routine patients, fitting contacts or selling eyewear we can still do things that ensure our business survival, help now, plan for later and as I like to say, make lemonade out of these lemons we’ve been handed. I put together a list of things to work on that will help your business stay afloat until this passes and some may even help it thrive after. I hope you find it helpful.

  • Create a detailed marketing plan.
  • Fill out your Google My Business page, adding pictures, videos and all details (this helps you surge listing in google when people in your area search for the products and services you hope to be found for).
  • Build your social media presence; create content to post now and later; create enough so you can schedule it for posting over the next few months.
  • Getting caught up on CE (if your state allows it online).
  • Build a relationship with a banker so when lines of credit become available they know you; this makes the process simpler and easier.
  • Get an application going for a small business loan from the SBA – you never have to use it but get it in place so you’re at the front of the till when they start fulfilling them.
  • Go through all credit card statements and accounting software looking for erroneous charges and line items you can eliminate to help your cash situation.
  • Use your customer communication software to communicate transparently with your patient base; search all patients who will be needing CL refills in the next 3 months and send a communication letting them know you’ll make it easy for them to do this remotely.
  • Call your insurance broker and inquire about business interruption insurance.
  • Speak to your suppliers and find out if they are willing to defer billing or can provide some kind of relief before it gets too far down the road for them or you.
  • The US chamber of commerce put out this coronavirus response toolkit which include guidelines on how small business owners can ensure they are keeping their customers and employees safe. The toolkit also includes a business preparedness checklist. This checklist can help you figure out what to prioritize and to create a plan of communication for your employees.
  • The SBA announced it would offer disaster assistance loans for up to $2 million for small businesses affected by the coronavirus. These low-interest loans are available to businesses that have sustained “substantial economic injury” due to the spread of the coronavirus. These loans can be used to pay off outstanding debts, payroll and any other bills they are unable to pay. However, small businesses that have access to credit are not eligible. Small businesses with no available credit qualify for an interest rate of 3.75%.
  • Find out how banks and credit card companies are willing to assist you – Capital One, Citi and Wells Fargo have all issued statements indicating that they are willing to work with customers that experience financial difficulties. Citi issued a statement that for 30 days, small business customers are eligible to have their monthly service fees waived. Wells Fargo donated $6.25 million in aid to help the public relief effort. The bank also encouraged customers that are experiencing financial hardship to contact customer service for assistance.
  • If you have federal student loans, please call your loan servicer to temporarily stop payments.
  • Facebook has announced a grant program to support small businesses. Information is available here https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grant

The average “OD on facebook” has been out of school for 12 years. This means our members have approximately 786 Million hours of knowledge and share it freely – take advantage of your community. Continue to monitor ODs on facebook and seek the support of your colleagues. Be sure to ask questions, read comments and invite colleagues who haven’t discovered the community so we can continue to support one another. Of course, anyone can always reach out to me; I’m happy to mentor and support anyone – student, young OD or veteran colleagues so connect with me and send me a PM with questions or concerns.

Alan N Glazier, OD, FAAO

Diplomate, American Board of Optometry

Alan Glazier
Proud founder of a private practice in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. and I founded this small online community called "ODs on Facebook". I like to connect people.

1 COMMENT

  1. As usual, thoughtful and helpful advice from Dr. Glazier.

    I would like to add a couple of thoughts.

    First has to do with business interruption insurance. At least one insurance company is trying to dodge a bullet by saying Covid-19 is not covered when you are ADVISED to close shop, as opposed to being forced by law to close shop. Do not cave in to this sort of thing. Threaten to take them to court. If push comes to shove, find a no-win-no-fee lawyer to put together a class action suit the insurer will not want to fight.

    Second: get your contact lens patients into an on-line re-order system that is seamless for you. You do nothing. The software supplier does it all for you. There are a few such programs out there, but the best (agnostic as to brands and pricing, dead easy for you) is LensFerry from CooperVision. See your CooperVision rep. Goodness knows why CooperVision does not push this harder. It works.

    Another thought with regard to contact lens patients: phone them a month or so before their Rx expires, have an appropriate discussion and (as will probably be appropriate with most) offer to renew the Rx over the phone, and for a modest fee. Of course Covid-19 is the rationale — but I think this is a great practice builder regardless, when used appropriately.

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