Article Date: 9/1/2005

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Dollars to Donuts
Think outside the donut hole to get new marketing ideas for your practice.
GARY GERBER, O.D.

How much time and effort do you really spend on marketing and growing your practice? If you're like most doctors, marketing and practice improvement ideas are something you have on your growing to-do list and are something you decide, "I'll get to when I have some free time." At our recent Power Practice national client meeting, we performed an exercise to show how you can generate a high volume of positive marketing ideas in only fifteen minutes — the key being that those fifteen minutes are focused, uninterrupted and uninhibited.


PHOTO BY GRANT TAYLOR

Warm-up

We split our clients into teams of eight and gave them some cursory data points — just enough information needed to open up a donut shop! Our reason: we wanted to neutralize any pre-conceived notions about what you can or can't do in marketing — and none of our clients owned a donut business.

The only information given to each team was as follows: You decide to open a donut shop in your hometown. You have already picked the location, signed a lease and acquired the necessary financing. You have also read-up on how to make donuts and the technical, baking side of the business.

We then asked them to answer these six questions:

1. How will you attract customers?

A. What media will you use?

B. What will be your message?

2. What qualifications will you require of the people you hire?

3. Unlike optometry, the donut business is a very high volume, very low margin per unit sale. How will you profit?

4. Why will someone buy donuts from you instead of anywhere else?

5. How will you create customer loyalty?

6. What is the name of your donut shop? Describe the logo.

Get going

What does any of this have to do with building your optometry practice? Well, I'll bet you dollars to donuts — pun intended — if you take 15 minutes to answer the above questions, you will also take the first step on the path to a more profitable practice! Our client teams came up with some truly ingenious ideas — everything from square donuts to a store that let's kids decorate their own donuts! One team even planned on an office delivery service!

Try the above exercise at your next staff meeting. Once you have the questions answered, have some fun and see how you can relate your donut shop (or any other non-optometry business) answers to your own practice.

For example, if you plan on creating customer loyalty with a "frequent dunker" program, how can you similarly create patient loyalty? If you plan on attracting customers by offering baking classes, can you and your staff brainstorm an optometric equivalent? If you can devise a healthier donut than your competition, how can you use that competitive concept into your practice?

Cool down

Our clients learned two valuable lessons from this exercise. First, once the mental barrier is lifted, great ideas begin to flow. Second, they learned that when you set aside time to focus on a marketing task, it actually gets done. We advise our clients to set aside a few focused minutes each week — no patients, no phone calls and no interruptions — to work on building their practices.

Go ahead and take this 15-minute challenge. Order some coffee and donuts while you're doing it and have fun!

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: September 2005