For a business to remain healthy, it is worth keeping in mind the Sigmoid (or s-shaped) Curve Theory, which recommends starting a new 'curve' before you reach the peak of your existing one.
Within a curve, the first period is experimentation and learning, followed by growth and development, until ultimately every curve turns downward. The only thing that varies is the length and duration of each part of the curve, and therefore it is important to generate new thinking and a second curve while you have the resources and energy to do so.
Optical practices are great examples of developing the second curve in time to keep the business going forward. The changes over the past 10 years have been immense and are set to continue. In addition to the increasing dominance of multiples, supermarkets and online suppliers, patients too are more discerning in their choices and the Internet provides much of their information and recommendations. Practices have had to adapt – making full use of online communications and social marketing, developing niche activity, diversifying from traditional practice, using technological advances in equipment, restructuring fees, differentiating from the competition and ensuring that they are linked in with the opportunities to deliver community eye health services.
"A healthy business needs to take responsibility and show leadership, and for us this means delivering on the trust given to us by our membership"
The AOP, like other businesses, is mindful of the future while ensuring that we deliver and give value for money now. Through good budgeting and financial management, there is an emphasis on being cost effective while optimising the resources available. For 2015 we deliberately budgeted for a significant surplus to assist us in achieving our recommended reserves policy. Once this is secure we will be able to consider if members would like us to either invest further in supporting and representing the profession, or whether an element of reduced cost of membership could be introduced.
One of the reasons that we can have this flexibility is due to the insurance arrangements we operate. We give a best-in-market product and service while containing costs through the use of a 'captive cell' arrangement rather than giving potential profits to the insurance market, which charge a fixed amount regardless of the claims made in any given year. This enables us to keep costs down and ensure that the legal, clinical and regulatory in-house team grows in expertise and in response to members needs. A healthy business needs to take responsibility and show leadership and for us this means delivering on the trust given to us by our membership.
The AOP sigmoid curve began in 1946. We intend to support, protect and represent members for another 70 years by continuing to develop our core services while developing new areas of expertise and thinking to stimulate new growth in both the Association and the sector as whole.