Article Date: 5/1/2009

Take Careful Aim at The "Top Guns"
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Take Careful Aim at The "Top Guns"

Create a description of the five-star patient, and begin marketing to her.

GARY GERBER, O.D.

Tell four staff members: "Make a list of your top 10 favorite patients and next to it, briefly explain why you've put them on the list." In nearly every practice where we've done this exercise, at least three names, and often five, are on everyone's lists. Equally impressive: The similarities in the reasons for inclusion. "Easy to work with, "likes to buy new glasses," "refers patients," and "never balks about fees" are common descriptors.

Put "Top Guns" to work

Compile this "Top Gun" list of patients, and put it to work for you. Dig below the surface, and look for commonalities. If you find similarities in either psychographic or demographic traits, create a profile of the "perfect patient" — that is, the patient you'd most like to attract. Armed with this knowledge, you can design future marketing efforts and in-office strategies to attract this patient.

For example, your composite five-star patient may be a 34-year-old female contact lens wearer, from the town north of your practice, who has no insurance, found you via your Web site, plays tennis, takes one significant vacation each year, has a six-year-old daughter (who is a patient) and has referred seven others from her husband's company. During the past five years, she's visited your office seven times, and six of those visits have been on Thursdays after 5 p.m. The average amount she's paid for eyeglasses is $812, and the average wholesale cost for her frames amounts to $200.

Arm yourself with data

Based on the above example, you could calculate the net revenues "she" (remember, this hybrid patient doesn't really exist!) has generated. Let's say your calculation is $3,800 through the last five years. With this data, and the wish to attract similar patients, you can now check off a list of your marketing initiatives that do not reach patients like her. You can also budget more effectively.


ILLUSTRATION BY DICKGAGE

For example, since she found you via the Internet, is your Yellow Pages ad worth keeping? Ask yourself: "Does it appeal to her, or does it have a more generic look and feel that tries to speak to everyone (and often reaches no one)?"

If you have a referral incentive program that is a non-motivator for her, why continue to use it? If you consider altering office hours, why close early on Thursday nights? If you're thinking of offering a "lunch-and-learn" on computer vision syndrome for a corporation, contact her husband's company first (or perhaps second, after you iron out the content on a "less important" employer).

Raise the bar

Regarding your product mix, in the interest of trying to continually raise the profit bar, let's say your current inventory mix consists of 15% of frames that are in your "perfect patient's" $200 (wholesale) price range. It makes sense to raise the amount of those frames to 25% and/or to increase the price point to $250. You're stacking the deck in your favor so that when she returns, you can maximize revenue and keep her coming back and continually referring more patients.

Taking an ad in a high school football yearbook is illogical, as the patient plays tennis. But, it makes perfect sense to work with her on her daughter's Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) fund raiser.

This simple profiling exercise can pay huge rewards and fill your practice with the perfect patients of which you've always dreamed. OM


DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (800) 867-9303.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2009