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    Managing an office and optical move

    How we combined two offices and maintained patient care

    There’s nothing more exciting than working in an office that continues to grow and expand. Recently, our practice has taken a gigantic step and purchased a brand-new, state-of-the-art office that allowed us to merge our two offices into one, larger space.

    Our two existing locations were located only 3.5 miles and 1 mile, respectfully, from our new office space. Each location had only two exam lanes, which didn’t allow us to be flexible with scheduling for patients or staff. Our new building includes six fully equipped exams rooms. This additional space allows us to see more patients within the same time frame.

    Upon first hearing the news of the new office, my excitement for a brand-new optical space was overwhelming. Who wouldn’t want to have a shiny new office, new space to decorate and display our products, and the ability to wow both longtime and new patients? Immediately, my brain went to, “What can I buy?” because one of my favorite tasks of my position is picking out frames and product lines. It doesn’t hurt that shopping is one of my favorite pastimes, either.

    The list of items that needed to be purchased started pouring in: chairs, desks, frames, lights. You name it, we needed it. Having never been part of building a location from the ground up, it was almost impossible to imagine everything that would need to be handled. Do you know what it takes? I certainly didn’t.

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    Patient care still ongoing

    Most optometry practices are small businesses, so you know how heavily each and every day of productivity affects the bottom line. Here are just a few of the bigger, more important questions we faced.

    How could we possibly close our offices to make this move happen?

    Could we run with one less doctor so that doctor could be available to make decisions?

    Should we have our patients involved in the process?

    What do we want this space to say about us?

    Could we really manage to do all of this and still provide exceptional service to our patients?

    The list of questions kept mounting. Despite all of these questions, we knew it was going to be spectacular once complete.

    One of our major challenges during this process was that patient care did not stop to allow us time for decisionmaking. At the rate things were going, we needed 37 hours in a day.

    During construction, working with a project manager increased productivity on both sides of the project, the move, and continued patient care. It helped to have someone else monitor progress, establish timelines, and remain at the work site to answer the thousands of questions that would emerge as construction moved forward. This allowed office staff and doctors to maintain normalcy at our existing locations. Internally, our point person was a staff member who was pulled from patient care during construction and finishing work.

    Once construction was complete, there were endless amounts of details that needed to be decided. Which lighting fixtures would provide the best illumination, and scheduling deliveries and utilities setup, just to name a few. Having someone onsite made all the difference in keeping all of the balls in the air while the staff kept patient care top of mind.

    Next: Designing the space

    Larissa Steinberg, CPOT
    Larissa Steinberg is the optical manager for Somerset Eye Care in North Brunswick, NJ. She has worked in the optical industry for almost ...


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