Job security today

I recently read a great book called Linchpin by Seth Godin that got me thinking about how I want to practice optometry. In his book, Godin talks about the reality of the world today where job security is no longer defined by meeting deadlines and putting in a 40-hour work week. Instead, in order to secure your future one needs to become indispensable by building relationships and displaying humanity.

At first glance, it seems like flowery language, but then I thought about the best experience I’ve had at a restaurant. In a city like San Francisco or New York, where there is no shortage of restaurants that provide decadent food, how does one restaurant stay afloat amongst the many? I think it has a direct correlation to the quality service provided by the owner and staff.

It’s like choosing a restaurant

Imagine walking through a neighborhood which has five different restaurants, each of whom provides equally delicious food (i.e. quality of goods). Which factors would sway your decision of choosing one restaurant vs. the other? One factor would be competitive price (i.e. cost of goods) because if all restaurants are providing the same quality of goods, naturally a consumer would choose the one with the lowest price.

However, is it in the best long-term interest of the restaurant to lower prices in order to retain its customers? Perhaps in short-term…until another restaurant retaliates with even more competitive prices and the bargaining cycle continues. What happens when the restaurant lowers its prices? They may need to downsize on the number or wages of servers, which in turn would lead to re-hires and the restaurant might lose out on a highly qualified staff. Do they also cut down on quality of the ambiance and food to keep up with the competitive prices? See where I’m going with this?

Fact: There is no shortage of optometrists in large cities. Fact: There are increasingly more options for patients to choose from when thinking about their eye care. So, what will make them choose me? If prices are fixed and each practitioner is providing “comprehensive eye exams” the features distinguishing one doctor or practice is going to be the quality of service.

Godin introduces the concept of gift giving without the expectation of reciprocity.

The gift that we as optometrists can give is superior quality of eye exams where each patient feels cared for. What we get or expect in return should not dictate the quality of our exams. If we design individualized treatment plans by taking a genuine interest in how our patients use their eyes, we will be investing in a relationship for years to come. The idea of gift giving keeps us true to the real reason we joined this profession which is help people have a better visual experience.