How refractive surgeons can beat the 2023 recession

You’ve heard of a perfect storm, right? It’s an especially bad situation caused by a combination of unfavorable circumstances.

We’re heading straight into an economic one. For the unprepared, these factors will make 2023 one of the toughest years on record to achieve your profitability goals. Refractive surgery practices worldwide are facing:

  1. Inflation higher than it has been in 40 years
  2. Unemployment at the lowest rate since 1974
  3. Wages steadily rising

First, the bad news. But hang in there, because next, you’ll see how recession conditions provide opportunities for those with a plan. Your focus for 2023 need not be about mere survival. Discover a plan to take home more profit in 2023, despite an obstacle like 10% inflation.

Inflation is the highest it’s been in 40 years

In September 2022, the rate of inflation in the UK was over 10%: which is the highest it’s been in over 40 years. In the US, Inflation has soared as high as 8.3%. In Australia, the rate is 7.3%.

That means that if you’re operating a refractive surgery practice in the UK, you’re taking home £100,000 less for every million you earn. And across the pond in America, refractive surgeons will take home $83,000 less per million they earn.

Unemployment is at the lowest rate since 1974

Typically, increases in unemployment swiftly follow recessions, as you can see in this chart. The gray bars are recessions, and the blue line is the US unemployment rate.


In the US, jobless claims in September 2022 were 213,0002, the lowest rate in 50 years. Because short-term job security leads to confident requests for cost-of-living wage increases, it will cost you more to keep people in 2023.

Equally bad is that double-digit unemployment typically follows recessions. You can expect that there’ll be fewer people in the market for middle-class luxuries like refractive surgery.

Wage increases without correlative productivity increases lead to shrinking earnings for businesses

The average wage increase is 5.9%. When young people hop jobs, the average wage increase is 12%. In the UK, the rate of annual pay growth for total pay was 6%, and the annual pay growth for regular pay was 5.4% from June to August 2022; this is the strongest growth in regular pay seen outside of the pandemic period.3,outside%20of%20the%20pandemic%20period.


The average Labour:Sales ratio (the proportion of sales spent on labour) is 20-35%, and it can be as high as 45% in healthcare. That means that, due to the average wage increase, the average business owner will net $11,800 – $20,650 less per million in sales.

What are your options?

You have three options:

  1. Fire your staff and produce less profit
  2. Find a way to cut your expenses
  3. Raise your prices and become a better marketer

You see, the question isn’t “How can you net the same despite inflation?” The better question is…

How can you net more despite inflation?

The truth is, no one knows what’s going to happen, so the best you can do is use scenario planning.

  • Scenario A: Assume everything stays the same.
  • Scenario B: Assume sales are down 20%, but costs remain more or less the same.
  • Scenario C: Assume sales are down 20% and costs increase 10-20%.

These are just some examples, but you get the idea. The point is, if you allow yourself to “live” possible scenarios in the future, you’ll not only be less surprised if they happen, but you’ll also have a baked-in plan for what to do should a given scenario come to pass.

That’s precisely what we did when we laid out scenarios for what might happen to refractive surgery during and after the pandemic. We’re doing it again with the looming recession of 2023.

Guessing is gambling, but we can all prepare by creating a game plan. We’ll be sharing our recommended game plan at the upcoming webinar below. Join us to get your practice planning in place for 2023.

Webinar: How refractive surgeons can beat the 2023 recession
Tuesday December 20th, 2022
45 minutes

Make sure you sign up, and you’ll get sent the replay, even if you can’t make the live event itself.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

About the author

Rod Solar
Founder & Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor for its customers. Rod mentors and coaches eye surgery business CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to triple their sales, double their profit, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Scalable Business Advisor

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO for our customers. Rod mentors and coaches CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to double their sales, triple their profits, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK