Capacity Crisis

In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes says:

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.”

Albert Einstein agreed. A reporter interviewed Einstein for an article he was writing. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked if he could have Einstein’s phone number to call if he had further questions. “Certainly,” Einstein replied. He proceeded to pick up the phone directory, looked up his phone number, wrote it on a slip of paper, and handed it to the reporter. Dumbfounded, the reporter said, “You are considered to be the smartest man in the world, and you can’t remember your own phone number?” “No,” Einstein answered. “Why should I memorize something I can so easily get from a book?”

While this is about being selective about what information you choose to allow into and store in your mind, humour me with taking you in a completely different direction. Let’s replace Holmes’ attic with your practice and let’s replace the furniture with patients.

Your practice is like a little empty room, and you have to fill it with the type of patients that you choose.

Holmes would tell you that a fool optometrist takes in all the patients of every sort that he comes across so that the patients that he can serve best, and be generously compensated for, gets crowded out and jumbled up with a lot of other patients ill-suited for his practice, so that he has difficulty looking after his best patients effectively.

At the next OSA Mastermind Meetings (Austin and London) we’ll be doing a powerful exercise to identify, once and for all, your perfect patient – and how to use that information to drive all your marketing.

If your practice is not yet producing the numbers you desire, you have either a marketing problem or a capacity problem. They are two sides of the one coin. A marketing problem means you do not have enough patients or not enough patients of the right quality or the processes to maximise the value of those patients.

A capacity problem means you have too many patients, you are so busy you struggle to fit any more in, and you are stretched so thin that you become ineffective.

More often than not your capacity problem arises from filling your practice with any old patient of any sort.

Like Holmes pointed out the cost of a cluttered, messy, disorganised mind, I’ll point out that not being selective about who you attract and allow into your practice as a patient will shrivel your average dispense value, shrink your conversion rate and dwarf your lifetime customer value.

If you have a capacity problem you need to solve it by a combination of raising prices, improving your offering, increasing the value you deliver, stopping doing unprofitable things, starting doing more profitable things, firing the patients that don’t fit, and increasing your capacity for wowing ideal clients and running an extremely effective practice. Doing all this will make your practice the obvious choice for your ideal patients and your life will be far easier.

A mastermind member told me recently that going from a 3-optometrist practice to a 2-optometrist practice has been the best thing he has ever done. His revenue and profitability are better than ever, and a ton of stress has been removed from his practice and life.

An over-arching principle I teach that you’ll find over and over in OSA strategies is ‘do more with less’. I’ve lost count of the practice owners and mastermind members who have told me how their revenue and average dispense values took a significant leap when they increased appointment times and started seeing fewer patients per day.

If you’re currently in the throes of a capacity crisis maybe its time to stop the madness. An old Turkish proverb tells us ‘No matter how far you have travelled down the wrong road, stop. Turn back.’

Later this month we’ll make a full announcement about the two amazing Mastermind Meetings we have coming up to kick off 2024. The first day will be about creating your annual plan for 2024 and the second day will be about creating the marketing plan that will deliver the clients and sales you need to hit your profit target and other big goals for the year ahead. If you’re interested in finding out more about Conor’s Scale Up Mastermind Program and the events send an email to for more info.