Before we dive head-first into this post, we wanted to point out that we are not covering a vital factor in your business: location (or as they say in the real estate business, “location, location, location”). The reason we are not covering this significant issue in this article is found in the first word of the title: “Easy”. Fixing the location is a time consuming, difficult and more expensive mistake to remedy. With that said, let’s get into easier and less expensive mistakes your optical business can remedy right now.
1. Appearance of your Building’s Exterior
Let’s face it, most of our patients don’t have the knowledge and training to know if our clinical skills are great or poor. They DO have the ability to look at your building as they drive by and say, “that’s a nice building” or “that place sure needs a new coat of paint”. The appearance of your practice’s exterior, as well as your signage, will have a large impact on the community’s perception of your level of quality and expertise. Because of this, it’s important to keep the outside of your building clean by managing your greenery and ensuring that your exterior is a good reflection of your practice. For much of the community it will be the only factor they consider when considering your optical practice. Invest in a great sign, it is a one-time advertising expense that should last for many years and will be the sole reason some of your business walks through your door.
2. Appearance of Your Building’s Interior
Your interior will also have a major impact on your patients’ perception of the quality of your practice. Outdated displays, unkempt work surfaces, and cluttered reception areas detract from the desired impression of professional competence and fashionable appearance. An investment in the interior of your practice will have immediate returns in higher average sales and patients referring their friends to your optical practice.
Dim and uneven lighting makes a practice look gloomy and dirty. Great lighting makes a practice shine! Your dispensary in particular needs great lighting to show off the products you feature to your patients. Visit a local jewelry store and see how they light their display cases, they make the jewels dazzle with bright lights and mirrors to look as attractive as possible.
4. Doctor-Driven Dispensing
In most eye care practices the doctor refracts the patient, and then turns the patient over to his or her opticians to help patients choose lenses and frames. This is a big mistake! The doctor should also pitch in to prescribe or recommend products to solve the visual needs of the patient. As an example, if the doctor prescribes a pair of computer glasses for an office worker the chances are much higher that the patient will purchase these glasses than if the patient hears about computer glasses for the first time from the optician. Patients tend to feel that the doctor is more caring for their visual needs, while the optician is just trying to “sell” something. The doctor must determine how the patient uses their eyes in their everyday life and offer solutions based on those needs.
The hand-off is the most important part of the dispensing process. It is simple, and yet often overlooked or done poorly. After the examination, the doctor should introduce the patient to the optician and tell the optician what has been prescribed in front of the patient. This transfers the authority from the doctor to the optician, and re-states the solutions the doctor has prescribed for the patient’s visual needs. Now the optician only needs to fill the doctor’s prescriptions and answer any questions about the prescribed products rather than having to “sell” products.