I think it is very important to give patients more than they expected, even if it is in a small way. This strategy of marketing is sometimes called "value-added" - it may pertain to an extra service or product that was free, or provided more value than what is considered typical. This approach is worth much more than the dollar cost of the item or service because it reaps big rewards in patient loyalty (repeat business) and in referrals of new patients. It builds the reputation of your practice - and it does so quicker than you might think.
One way I provide this is by dispensing a very high quality case - and a cleaning cloth and small bottle of lens cleaner with each pair of glasses. I prefer cases with no advertisement - but the cloth and the cleaner has our practice name and logo. We carry unique cases, such as those that hold glasses and a sunglass clip, or unusual designed cases. We often let patients choose between a few styles of cases. By spending a little more on cases, the perception of quality in our whole practice is increased dramatically.
Consider other perceptions that occur at the dispensing of eyewear as well. For example, we always have glasses pre-adjusted by our lab staff, and completely clean of lab markings, when they are first brought to the patient. We have the glasses on an attractive dispensing pad - no lab trays or job tickets wrapped around with a rubber band. Out technicians handle eyeglasses like fine jewelry - with pride.
When you think about it, patients judge our services and skills by what they understand. The general public does not know much about eyeglass lenses or phoroptors, but they do understand an item like the case. It stays with them and they look at it every day of the year. It makes an impression of you and your practice every time they handle it. What do you want it to say?
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management