Article Date: 2/1/2008

Why Should Your Patients Hire You?
o.d. to o.d.

Why Should Your Patients Hire You?

Is it about our offices, brochures, Web sites and advertisements? Or is it about something different?

BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O. Chief Optometric Editor

I know we all think about it, but maybe not in these terms: Why do patients hire us to be their optometrists? Why do they hire us rather than any of the other optometrists in their market area? And, why do they hire us hopefully again and again? What is the process that patients go through in the hiring process? Typically, there's no interview, maybe a referral or, perhaps, patients form a positive perception after seeing your office location, an advertisement or promotional material.

Advertising and proactive marketing campaigns to promote an optometric practice work for some and not for others. Many optometrists are uncomfortable with self-promotion in any form, while others feel that promotion (such as Web sites, brochures and phone listings) is O.K.

A different way to promote

I'd like you to think differently about promoting your practice. If you were an independent consultant specializing in eye care, how would you seek work? Those of us who are professional consultants begin relationships by presenting a proposal to the perspective client. Sometimes, the proposals we deliver are the result of a "Request for Proposal" (RFP), while other times we send promotional material to those we believe may perceive value our services.

In the world of optometry, I would liken the RFP to a patient who seeks your services, makes an appointment, presents himself in your exam room and wants you to make a proposal for care. This is great, as receiving an RFP let's you know the patient believes you can provide what he needs. But, are you going to be satisfied with patients who only seek your services, or would you rather proactively seek more work?

Receiving an RFP let's you know the patient believes in your services.

Tips that add value

If you promote yourself in an effort to receive more new patients (the RFP) what information do you convey in your promotions? All too often, practitioners promote themselves through what they've accomplished, how large their practice is, blah, blah, blah. Here a few tips on what I think patients are thinking when they select their optometrist.

The Value Proposition. What can you do for me? What problems can you solve? What can you do to improve my performance, enjoyment, appearance and overall quality of life? If I select you, what's the advantage I receive above and beyond just getting my eyes examined?

The How. How are you going to deliver what you propose? How do I know it's best for me? How will you approach my problem? How long will it take? How can you guarantee that your recommendation is sound?

Credentials. Are you the one for the job? What makes you uniquely qualified? What's your track record; with whom, how frequently and how recently?

Memory Aids. What have you given me to remember why I selected you? What will you do to remind me that you're my optometrist?

Get hired

When you think of yourself as a consultant, knowing patients can choose from many consultants, realizing your patients "hire" you for a specific job and decide whether they'll hire you again, you recognize that proactively promoting yourself is smart. And, if you promote on the terms of "The Value Proposition," rather than the cost, the "The How," instead of the why, the "Credentials," instead of the unrelated accomplishments and the "Memory Aids," rather than the advertising, you'll likely be "hired" most often. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2008