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Business skills course a foundation for financial success


Chris Pooley

Carolyn Hewett

The UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science will run its successful Business Skills Course for Optometrists again in 2015.

This ground-breaking program is a combination of webinar and onsite learning designed to give graduates and established practice owners a blueprint and practical plan for practice growth and success.

The program recognises that every practitioner, regardless of employment situation, works in a business. Understanding business principles is vital to the development of your ability to make decisions with your patient’s best visual outcome in mind.

The program has attracted enrolments from around the world with optometrists from Canada, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia developing business and marketing strategies for their practices during the course.

Closer to home, students have ranged from new graduates keen to develop business skills for the road ahead to established practitioners in metropolitan and regional areas who want to increase the profitability and longevity of their practices.

We caught up with two graduates from past Business Skills courses. CHRIS POOLEY, executive of Young Optometrists, joined Peter Hewett Optometrists as a practitioner in 2012 after graduating from UNSW in 2011, and AARON HENRY is the principal of an established practice, Aaron Henry Optometry, in Muswellbrook.

Aaron Henry - Resized
Aaron Henry

What attracted you to the course?

Aaron:  As an independent practitioner in a regional town, you can feel a bit isolated from the industry and I saw this as a way of getting practical skills and meeting like-minded practitioners. I was also attracted by the idea that you would come out of the program with a plan for your practice.

Chris: As a relatively new practitioner, I was keen to acquire the business skills I will need to build a practice within a practice. I wanted to gain a better understanding of systems and processes that help a business run efficiently and profitably.

What were the best elements of the course?

Aaron:  For me it was all the practical business development and marketing exercises that I now call my ‘playbook’, which have helped me take a holistic approach to the practice. I also really enjoyed the two on-site days and working with the industry mentors. They were so generous with their insights and advice. I’m still in touch with a couple of them.

Chris:  I really enjoyed learning about all the hands-on aspects of managing and marketing a practice. The program helped me develop a business model to increase my visibility and credibility within the practice. I also found that everyone from lecturers and mentors to fellow students were willing to share insights and work with you to develop ideas and strategies that would be helpful to your individual situation.

What has happened since completing the course?

Aaron: I feel much more in control of the business aspects of running the practice and have rebranded the practice and developed marketing initiatives. I am gradually implementing all the strategies I developed while on the program and feel confident that my practice will continue to thrive.

Chris:  I am bringing more revenue into the practice and have developed a strong patient base of my own. I am also much more involved in the management and decision-making within the practice which I find professionally very rewarding. In 2013 I became one of the graduate mentors on the Business Skills Course, which was a great opportunity to pass on my knowledge and help fellow students.

If you’d like to find out more about the 2015 program you can contact the course co-ordinator Carolyn Hewett on 0418 283 490.

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