MARKETING & MERCHANDISING
Ten Tips for 2014 Merchandising
To get more bang out of the new year, go beyond traditional merchandising.
GINA M. WESLEY O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.
If it’s time for a new year, then it’s time for new merchandising techniques. To start the business planning process, I like to have an all-day staff meeting in early January to set practice goals for the year, and merchandising is always a key part of that strategy. We analyze what we’ve done, what’s worked, what hasn’t and, primarily, what our objectives are in merchandising for the new year.
To help get your practice focused on 2014 planning, consider this top-10 list of merchandising ideas for 2014:
1 Create a seasonal display.
Nothing says “we are not motivated to be creative and offer you something new” more than leaving your displays unchanged season after season.
Create a vignette or showcase corner. The display doesn’t have to be big to make an impression.
2 Purchase a contact lens inventory, and showcase it.
My staff and I recently made our contact lens inventory a conversation piece by purchasing interesting cabinetry in which to store it. We placed this in the reception area, so patients were sure to see it. Prior to the purchase of this cabinetry, we stored the lenses in a locked back cupboard.
Now, patients can see we have lenses ready for immediate sale.
3 Repaint/rearrange your optical.
Again, my goal is always to have patients noticing something different in my office than when they were in it last. (After all, if nothing changes, that equates to the practice ceasing to evolve in the patient’s mind — a sure way to lose patients.)
A low-cost way to do this is a change in paint color and/or a rearrangement of displays and furniture.
Dr. Wesley posted an educational video about preventing sports-related eye injuries to her practice’s website. The video was taken from her appearance on a local TV talk show.
4 Use education clips in the office and on your website.
Today’s technology allows you to easily create your own videos to post on your website and/or showcase in your office. Tell the history of your practice, or feature what’s new in the practice. Patients like to feel a part of the success of your practice, and this “merchandising” of events can do that.
5 Display the “miscellaneous” products you carry.
Do you sell products, such as contact lens solutions and/or lens cloths, but the sales of these items aren’t displayed? It may not seem to add up, but “miscellaneous” sales in my practice add thousands of dollars to my bottom line every year.
6 Use point-of-sale products tactfully.
Our ophthalmic industry support companies are getting smarter and classier with many of their POP options for use in the office. Pick a couple of stand-out signs or counter-top displays, and use them to create a featured frame line or new contact lens you are fitting.
7 Design a “patient-centric” shadow box/board.
Patients like to see themselves and the people they know featured in “first pair of glasses” photos, or having InfantSEE exams, or even something like “Patient of the Week.” Use that feature as a platform to educate other patients about what products or services those featured patients are using.
8 Organize informational reception area binders.
I find our patients flipping through our binders more than I ever thought they would. It’s a great way to focus on services and products your practice offers, and maybe even have a promotion within for those who are savvy researchers.
9 Feature a patient-appreciation giveaway.
Have a new frame line? Are you now offering a specialty service, such as advanced dry eye disease therapy or a specialty contact lens fit?
You can easily tie in a onetime patient discount or giveaway related to these new offerings to create some buzz.
10 Host an event at your office.
I’ve found that sometimes it’s been helpful to host an event or party at my office that is community-focused but still brings people in. For instance, I once hosted a community-based small business colleague who sold jewelry — much of which was bought locally by my patients already. We focused on supporting her, and it ended up building business for us.
A dynamic process
Merchandising implementation is a dynamic process that goes beyond traditional methods. Good luck in the new year. OM
DR. WESLEY PRACTICES AT COMPLETE EYE CARE OF MEDINA, WHICH SHE OPENED IN 2008. SHE WAS HONORED AS MINNESOTA’S OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR IN 2011. E-MAIL DRWESLEY@CECOFMEDINA.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: December 2013, page(s): 32 33