Optometric Management Tip # 463   -   Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Making Your Practice Busier

The biggest problem facing optometrists today is insufficient patient demand. Most practices are simply not busy enough. If you can solve that problem, nearly all of your other problems would go away.

So let's start the new year with a series on marketing ideas for the independent private practice designed to fill your appointment schedule. These projects will require time, energy and some expense, but if you own a practice, remember that your job description is more than just examining eyes. You also must actively manage your business. That aspect is not always easy, but embrace it and you will be rewarded.

The first step
The most important marketing strategy is to stimulate more word-of-mouth referrals and the basis for that is outstanding customer service. I will concentrate on specific marketing tactics in this series, with an emphasis on the practical details, but don't overlook the importance of an office culture that is built on customer service. Work on that first. It does little good to attract new people to your practice if you leave many of them dissatisfied and spreading negative word-of-mouth comments.

About this tip series
Each week, I will present an idea for a specific marketing project that you can put into effect to increase patient demand in your practice. Of course, each idea won't appeal to everyone, but try to stretch out of your comfort zone and adapt the concept into ways that will work for your practice and with your resources. Choose the projects that appeal most to you and develop a plan to do the others in the future. I'll make some basic decisions and present very specific instructions for each topic to make it easy to get started. But many alternative methods will also work so modify as you see fit. Questions and comments via email are welcome.

Host an in-office seminar
The marketing tactic this week is to host an in-office seminar on an eye care topic of your choice. I'll choose contact lenses for presbyopia, but there are dozens of eye care specialties that will work. Present a different topic later in the year.

You do not need to be an eloquent speaker to present a seminar. The simple approach that you already use when you speak to a patient who is interested in bifocal contact lenses will work just fine. You'll just do the same thing for a small group instead of one person. In fact, it is best to limit the lecture to only about 20 minutes and to use simple layman's terms.

An in-office seminar is a great marketing concept because:

Plan and promote the project
Here is a list of things to do to:

Measure your results
It is not always possible to know how much new business is generated from a marketing project, but keep good records and do the best you can. Make notes about:

Best wishes for continued success,

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