Optometric Management Tip # 395 - Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The back-to-school rush is over - now what?
Most practices are pretty busy in August but seem to slow down in September when parents and kids are focused on school again. Many eye care offices remain somewhat slow through December. What can you do to increase patient demand? Here are a few ideas.
- Host a frame trunk show. Fall is a great time to hold an eyewear fashion show. Work with your optician and one or two of your best frame reps to select a date and then send invitations to your patient base. Promote the designer brand names that you will be showcasing. Provide refreshments; wine and cheese perhaps?
- Present a seminar on an eye care topic. Pick any subject you wish, from bifocal contact lenses to sports vision to glaucoma. Hold the event in your office reception area after normal office hours. Serve coffee, cold bottled water and cookies. Keep the lecture short and simple (maybe 20 minutes) and take questions at the end. Provide brochures or handouts. Perhaps you can include a vision screening of some sort if appropriate... try on bifocal trial lenses, screen for visual acuity or intraocular pressure. The promotion for the seminar is key, so advertise it in the local newspaper and on your practice website. Even people who don't attend will see you as an expert and will view your practice as leading edge.
- Send a reactivation recall letter to patients who have not been in for an exam in the past three to six years. I don't typically advocate discounts, but special events like this are an exception and you could enclose a certificate good for cash to be used for an exam or eyeglasses.
- You may try having your staff make a follow-up phone call to ask patients if they received the letter, if they intend to schedule an appointment, or if they are seeing another eye care provider. You may position this as an effort to remove old records before transferring them into your new EMR system. But be very cautious with any phone call attempt and be prepared for some patients to be annoyed at this. Be certain your staff takes a very kind and friendly approach.
- Promote your own “Cash for Clunkers” program by inviting patients to bring in any old pair of glasses and receive a credit towards a new pair. Publicize that the old eyewear will be given to a charity program like VOSH or Lions Club. Run an ad in the local paper or send a post card to your local zip codes to publicize the event.
There are many great marketing ideas to choose from, but when your practice volume slows down, just do something! Make something happen and try to measure the results so you know what works and what doesn't for the future.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management