What Private Practioners Can Learn From Joyce Meskis

Joyce Meskis is the owner of the Tattered Cover, a Denver based independent bookstore, and she has just announced she will be retiring. She has built, arguably, one of the best of its kind.

Once again we are hearing dire predictions about the future of private practice, some predicting it will drop to 30% of practices in a few years. I disagree for a number of reasons. But, what can private practitioners learn from people like Joyce Meskis who stare Jeff Bezos in the face and laugh all the way to the bank?

1. Social media is more and more important for independents

2. Service is key

3. Stay focused on employee training and fire those who won't buy into the culture

4. The only way independents can be future proof is to create it themselves by innovating and experimenting. Remember when book stores had no cushy chairs? They are called Barnes and Noble now.

5. Learn from other independents like independent pharmacists and other service providers offering boutique services. Instead of donating to PACs, start a trade association of independent physicians and hire the best lobbyists and PR people you are willing to buy. Get a revolving door Congressman to lead it.

6. Target the high touch crowd and stroke them till they purr

7. Create a differentiated business model from the employed doctor crowd that will make patients beg for an appointment to see you.

8. Create an "independent" brand

9. Practice value marketing, selling and pricing

10. Expand your presence using digical (physical and digital) solutions

Tattered Cover gained an international reputation as a leading independent bookseller, and its stores have become Denver tourist destinations. I'm not sure you want tourists from all over the country parking their Winnebagos in your parking lot, but nothing succeeds like success. What' not to like?

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org