Michelle Presson, OD, says that her practice that she owns with her husband Shane Presson, OD, is proof that you can grow during even the most challenging times. This year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve added additional staff members, now with a total of 10 on the team, as well as another doctor at Karns Vision Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. And through office closures, they pushed through and finished their office expansion in July.
The practice, which is a part of the Vision Source network, has always grown much faster than expected, she says. They jumped in cold in 2008 after moving to the area from practicing in Virginia, so they didn’t have a patient base to follow them. There weren’t any other ODs in the area, and their plan paid off. “We had a five-year business plan for our bank and investors, and we exceeded that within eight months.”
A MARK ON THE COMMUNITY
Dr. Michelle Presson particularly enjoys working with her pediatric patients, sharing the experiences of her own children with parents when recommending contact lenses and other visual enhancement for school or sports. “Many parents come back and tell me that their children’s teacher says that they are different students,” she says. “It’s easier for them to learn because so much of what we learn comes from our visual system.”
Those satisfied patients send in their family and friends, and they helped build the foundation of their patient base. “We always ask how patients heard about us, and word-of-mouth is always number one,” she says. She’s made connections with other health care providers who send referrals, too, and Dr. Presson is known locally for her radio advertising on sports radio in her Ask Dr. Michelle segment. “Get your name out there, and let people know what services you can provide. Treat patients well—like family.”
EMPOWER THE STAFF
To keep customers happy, Drs. Presson have handed over a bit of ownership to their team to make things right when it’s necessary. There is a set amount of funds allotted for the staff members to use at their discretion in order to fix a problem. “That’s our philosophy so that they feel comfortable in front of the patients and in representing us,” she says. “We never want patients to feel stuck over money, and we want them to know we are there for them.”
EVOLVE AND ADAPT
Practice ownership has given Drs. Presson the control over their family life and careers through many stages of growth. When their three children were young, Dr. Michelle Presson homeschooled them right in a classroom that she built into the office. The flexibility helped her be a part of their schooling but also their traveling schedules for competitive tennis.
She adds that she appreciates all that Vision Source has brought to the business to help it grow, and the biggest benefit of their membership has been the community atmosphere. “You get to see different perspectives from practices all across the country, and you are able to bounce ideas and suggestions from other successful offices,” she says. “The community feeling has been invaluable to us during COVID, as it reassured us that we were not alone during this novel time,” from suggestions on cleaning such as with Pure&Clean and other sanitizing measures for the office and frames.
The vendor relationships through Vision Source helped ensure that they were getting the best pricing for equipment, optical displays, furniture and more throughout their expansion. And now with those latest renovations completed this summer, the doctors work out of eight exam rooms instead of three in an office that is more than triple their first space at 7,500 square feet. The extra space has been essential during these changing times, and also accommodate their new associate Katherine Allen, OD, a former intern from Southern College of Optometry, and may even leave space for their oldest son, who is considering optometry school. “I told my children that if you do what you love, it won’t feel like work. I go in every day, and I love it.”