Article Date: 4/1/2013

Merchandising
merchandising

Your Best Resource

What are you doing to foster the merchandisers in your practice?

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GINA M. WESLEY, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.

To successful O.D.s, staff are valuable tools, merchandisers, resources and the heart of the practice. Without changing a single physical item in your office, your staff are walking, breathing, talking mass merchandisers of you.

They educate patients every day about your services and products, make recommendations regarding eyewear and purchase options and most likely serve as your appreciated source of information for your patients. Face it. As much as we would like to think all our patients come back every year to see the doctor, it’s probably very likely they are coming back to see the staff as well. What are you doing to foster those merchandisers?

Reception: the first point

Begin by examining the first touch-point a patient often contacts in your office: the receptionist.

Does your receptionist know enough about your exam to adequately educate savvy patient shoppers on how your practice is superior to the competition? Scripts for answering the phone can sound too… scripted. So, instead, create bullet points of concepts you want your staff to get across to shoppers. But, let them create their own conversational flow, so it sounds natural. Make sure to always wrap up these phone calls with the question, “Would you like to schedule an exam?” followed by inquiries of family members in need as well. If simply answering the basic questions is all your staff is doing, you could be losing out on capturing new patients.

The technician advantage

Technicians are instrumental in sparking many patients’ thought processes regarding what products and/or services from which they could benefit.

Do you offer optional private-pay testing in your office, such as screening retinal pictures? Your technician is probably the final decision point for information on that test when in the pre-test room.

Does your technician understand the benefits of products like digital progressive lenses or daily disposable contact lenses? He/she can begin the conversation with the patient, and often sell them on the benefits of those products before you, the doctor, even see them.

Fully utilize your optician(s)

Opticians are probably the most obvious merchandisers in your office, but are you fully utilizing their capabilities?

The optical staff can demonstrate the benefits of advanced lens options and really take the time to educate patients about all the eyewear opportunities. Providing them with appropriate samples and equipment that assists with accurate demonstrations and measurements helps sell eyewear at a high level of profitability.

Break down your office

What has been discussed is only a few examples of how each staff member plays an important, and potentially very profitable role in merchandising you and your office.

I invite you to break down each area of your office, and determine how staff can discuss and present information to your patients at each step of the exam process. Create protocols, constantly review, and don’t let your staff accidentally merchandise your office — let them define it with purpose. OM

DR. WESLEY PRACTICES AT COMPLETE EYE CARE OF MEDINA, WHICH SHE OPENED IN 2008. SHE WAS HONORED WITH MINNESOTA’S YOUNG OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR IN 2011. E-MAIL DRWESLEY@CECOFMEDINA.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: April 2013, page(s): 43