Optometric Management Tip # 216   -   Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Saturday Hours

Saturday appointments have the highest demand of any hours offered in my practice. Those dates are booked farther ahead than any other time we offer Ė including our two evenings per week. That should tell us something about the wants and needs of the public. Identifying and satisfying the customerís wants and needs is the basic definition of marketing. Yet, many eye care practices are closed on Saturdays.

Letís be honest

Iíve heard all the reasons presented by doctors for why it is best to be closed on Saturdays, but they all sound like rationalization. If a doctor doesnít want to work on Saturday I can certainly understand that, but I canít go along with the conclusions that seem to dismiss Saturdays as not being good for business. Not one of the problems encountered comes close to overpowering the patient demand Iíve seen or the amount of revenue my practice generates on Saturdays.

Here are a few common misconceptions about Saturday office hours, along with my comments on each. Staff issues

I realize that staffing is more difficult with Saturday hours, but if you offer enough employment benefits you can attract good people and the increased profit makes it worth it. My office is open from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays. We have all employees work Saturdays, but we use a sliding schedule where the employee works two and then is off one, and the cycle repeats. This free Saturday allows all staffers to trade one Saturday for another in case a specific one is needed for a special event.

The other good thing about working Saturdays is that it affords a day off during the week Ė which is also a very nice perk. A weekday off (or even half a weekday off) breaks up the work week and is a great day to do personal errands.

Marketing

Marketing is what brings patients in the door, but many of us think of marketing as advertising or promotional efforts. It is much more than that. Office hours are a huge part of marketing; one that is often undervalued by the practice owner.

Patients who visit commercial eye care practices, such as small chain retail stores, large national chains, or big-box mega-marts, cite convenience as one of the main benefits they perceive. Private practitioners who want to compete with this market segment should examine those perceptions objectively, and meet the ones they can head-on. Donít blow it off as not important.


Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management