PRACTICE PROFILE: THE UNIQUE SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
CREATE YOUR IDEAL LOCATION
HOW WE ARRANGED A CELEBRATION OF VISION
ANDREW W. HOWARD, O.D.
IN 2010, after eight years of owning LaFollette Eye Clinic & The Eyewear Gallery with my wife Elizabeth T. Howard, O.D., we needed a change. We knew we provided premium eye care, but our location no longer supported that image. It physically limited our practice’s expansion and was aesthetically not conducive to our message.
So we decided to design and build a new location to provide a visual experience for our patients, a welcoming environment for our staff and a point of pride for the community. The process took about three years. We moved in the fall of 2014, and we’ve seen dividends in both patient experience and business growth.
Here are the steps we took and the lessons we learned along the way.
1 WE DETERMINED REQUIREMENTS
First, we identified our needs. This enabled us to narrow locations. We knew we wanted to build near a high-traffic location to be visible to potential patients.
We also needed room to grow. Our staff numbers 29. The available space in the new building gave us 16 exam rooms and seven diagnostic testing rooms, up from nine exam rooms.
LaFollette Eye Clinic & The Eyewear Gallery.
2 WE ASSEMBLED A TEAM
Next, we hired experts. We identified professionals by seeking opinions from people in the industry. Our design firm, construction company and architect all specialize in building medical offices, which was an important factor to us.
This team was key in the success of creating our ideal practice space. Without them, I don’t think we could have done it.
3 WE DEFINED OUR VISION
To guide the planning and construction of the office, we chose a theme to direct the work: a celebration of vision.
We also had two goals in mind: peak efficiency of patient flow and incorporating aspects of beauty. Our new office takes advantage, wherever possible, of natural light with many windows. We also employed colors and shapes to pack a visual punch.
4 WE PRE-PLANNED THE MOVE
We prepared for the move by making to-do lists. Tasks should answer questions such as how each piece of equipment is getting to the office. Is it new and being delivered, or is it being moved from the old office?
Pops of color used throughout.
Also, we maximized efficiency by arranging work schedules so staff members saw patients in the old office while others were readying the new office. This greatly reduced any inconvenience to our patients. Although planning the move took months, our practice was only closed three days to make the transition.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
The highlight of our location is The Eyewear Gallery with raised ceilings, bold colors and varied eye wear displays. Both our capture rate and revenue per eye wear unit are steadily rising this year as compared with last. Further, as a result of the additional exam rooms, the business has seen a 19% increase in exam volume from the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2015. Our new patient percentage is also rising.
Elizabeth T. Howard, O.D., and Andrew W. Howard, O.D. in the new gallery.
THE FINISHED PRODUCT
Creating a practice space to reflect the culture and environment of your business can be a rewarding experience. Enlist the help of expert professionals, and break your project down into manageable steps to see your vision through to fruition. OM
ANDREW W. HOWARD
O.D., CEO, LAFOLLETTE, TENN.