Our last installment of the financial guide was on budgeting your marketing campaigns. Access it here if you missed it. This month we'll be thinking about the return of investment on conferences, tradeshows, and other industry events.
Not only do you have to consider the cost of attendance, but also factor in the flights, hotels, transportation, and loss of opportunity ODs incur taking time away from your practice. As an optometrist, you'll have to choose which conferences are convenient, which CE courses you need, calculate how many days you can afford to be away, and set up business meetings in advance.
We'll help you break down if you can earn your expenditures back in the post below.
Learning and Development
Of course, the most useful CE courses are ones that help you manage your finances, increase your medical optometry knowledge, broaden your abilities or patient base, or fill your skills gaps.
If you're concerned with business development, choose the courses that would contribute to your bottom line. Usually, AOA Optometry's Meeting, SECO, Vision Source Exchange, and Vision Expo include descriptions and handouts for CE courses ahead of the event. You can run a cost-benefit analysis from your applications of what you learned after a few months.
New Equipment and Technology
It's difficult to purchase optometric or ophthalmic equipment without physically seeing and using it to get a good feel for it. That's why conferences with exhibit halls can save you the cost of making a mistake by choosing the wrong piece of equipment or software to help you manage your practice. When you've experienced an in-person demonstration, you can more accurately visualize how the technology would fit in with your workflow, feel in your space, and work with your staff.
Do some homework before you attend the conference to find out which types of technology upgrades your practice and patients actually need. You might not need a new phoropter, but your non-contact tonometer could be reaching the end of its life. If you're unsure of what needs replacing or sourcing, make the salespeople do this work for you at the conference. Ask them to calculate how much money you could either save or generate by switching to their product. They should be able to ask you a few questions and churn out an estimate, but it'll be useful to see if they're prepared.
You might shudder at the idea of networking with other ODs or eyecare professionals. However, building a community of colleagues can help when you need advice on a situation, a mentor, or a support system. Fellow professionals can help you find jobs, competent employees, a new location, or guide you through any other big change in your practice. Furthermore, knowing key players for different software and equipment vendors might help reduce your costs in the long term if they give you discounts, allow your practice to beta-test releases, or turn you into a consultant for new products.
There are many possible routes for growing your position as an industry leader or even successful, local OD. If any of the above scenarios would contribute to your long-term plan, you should start registering for a few convenient events.
Stay up-to-date even with the rapid changes on the horizon. Read our resources "5 Year Plan for ODs" for advice.