I had been putting off a visit to my eye doctor for two reasons: 1) I’m lazy, and 2) I shudder when I hear the word “doctor” (it’s a slightly irrational fear, my mind knows this, especially since my eye doctor is one of the nicest people ever). So, last month, I sucked it up and got it done… because I was on my last pair of contacts.
Anyway, I expected to walk out of there with a new prescription, which I got. But to my surprise, I also walked away with a few lessons on how to run my business better, too. Here’s what I learned from my eye doctor.
Cut the fluff
If there’s no reason to have extra stuff bogging down the transaction, don’t do it.
I got in, got my check up done, and was out of there in 20 minutes. It took me longer to drive there and back than it did for my actual eye exam, and that’s because that office cut out the stuff that didn’t need to be there. Even their small office was streamlined – they only had so much space to put things, so they only had what they absolutely needed on hand.
For me, this was a good lesson, since I know that I have a tendency to give all of the information I know about a topic all at once… whether people ask about all of that or not. Beyond that, I can easily see this translating into things like reducing the number of steps before checkout, eliminating superfluous text in the item descriptions, and streamlining my own production/shipping system.
Be quick and efficient
The entire staff were quick, efficient, and on their game. They knew were everything was, how it all worked, and what to do next.
Now, I’m a one woman show, so I don’t have staff (and I don’t think a lot of you do, either), though I wish I did. Still, there are people and businesses I rely on to get my work done – printers, support lines, tax consultants, domain hosts, fellow business owners, etc. I depend on them to do their jobs well and quickly so I can do the same. So, the lesson here is to choose people who can help me work better and faster, and who understands what my needs are as a business owner.
The other lesson for me is to understand the entire transaction process so I can answer questions intelligently, and to anticipate any questions or issues that may arise so I can troubleshoot for my own customers.
Know your limits
My eye doctor’s office is a small, hole in the wall kind of place. Clearly, she is a small business herself, and while she might like to see 400 people a day because that’s more income for her, she knows that’s just not practical. Her staff schedules no more than what the doctor can reasonably see each hour… which is nice for me as the customer since I never have to wait long (the maximum I’ve ever had to wait was maybe ten minutes). And it must be nice for the staff, too, to not have to juggle and rush to get the customers in to see the doctor.
This compared to an old cardiologist of my mother’s, who never, ever saw someone on time. Average wait time? 3 hours. No joke, 3 freaking hours of sitting in the waiting room before we ever saw the doctor, then another hour waiting in the room while she popped in and out. Who has that kind of time?? I don’t have four hours to spend at a doctor’s office for a routine, fifteen minute check up.
That doctor was a brilliant cardiologist, but she clearly needed a better planning system. I saw it as her or her staff having far more ambitious goals than any of them were ever able to follow through on. None of them really knew their limits, which probably had to be as frustrating to them as it was to every patient waiting.
My takeaway? There’s clearly value in saying no and knowing what your limits are. It’s easier to under guess and add more options later, than to take on too much that you can’t handle the amount of work. This goes for anything related to business – projects, custom orders, wholesale accounts, etc.
What about you? What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever gotten business lessons from?