the business of contact lenses
Diverse Strategies Won't Work Without Defined Goals
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Hundreds of articles have been written and hundreds of hours of lectures have been given about how to improve your contact lens practice. Yet, the incremental growth of the lens market has moved at glacial speed in the last few years. That means that either the content being disseminated is incorrect or ineffectual or it's not being used. My guess is the latter.
There are many strategies practitioners could use to increase the percentage of patients wearing lenses. They could step up marketing efforts. They could increase staff training so staff become more comfortable talking about lenses. They can adjust pricing to stimulate more frequent purchases or put promotions on their Web site.
While each of those ideas would probably work, the glue that would hold the ideas together is usually what's missing. It's that glue that is the impediment to growth. That glue is a defined strategy and genuine desire.
Isolated, unconnected, unrelated marketing ideas rarely work as well as those that are grounded in a well-thought-out, cohesive strategy. For example, wanting to increase the percentage of patients purchasing annual supplies of lenses is a good goal. Tying it into your existing recall system is a better goal. Making sure your recall system is bulletproof and being continuously executed is an even better goal. Tying a bow around all of these with the intent of making sure annual supplies increase is even better.
Similarly, trying to increase the usage of colored lenses should result in increased revenues. Making sure all signage is carefully chosen, placed, worded, and branded with your practice's main message is better. And making sure your staff is wearing colored lenses would make this work even better.
The take home here: hitting the contact lens practice growth nail with multiple hammers from various angles is one way to ensure your success.
Desire is the next component to ensuring that the growth curve in your office isn't flat. It's one thing to say that you want more patients in lenses. It's another to actually do it and do it consistently.
One way to ensure that happens is to record a concrete, step-by-step plan and put it on a calendar. Break the plan into smaller segments so you're not overwhelmed. Budget accordingly so funds are available to drive your goal of fitting more lenses.
For example, if you want to increase the percentage of patients wearing continuous wear lenses, make the first step one of data collection to determine exactly how many patients you have wearing continuous wear lenses. Give yourself one week to collect the data.
During the second week, set a goal of how many new fits you'd like to achieve over what period. Record those on your calendar. For example, "Three new fits per week in the next eight weeks."
Next, determine how much money you're willing to set aside to hit your goal. Remember that spending more at first is reasonable because lens patients tend to visit the office more frequently than non-lens patients do. So, your net revenue after marketing costs might be lower at first, but over time, it will multiply.
Take the amount of money determined above and decide how you'll allocate it over the next eight weeks to reach your goal.
Two Important Factors
Desire and a plan: there's not much you can't achieve if you have both—and growing your contact lens practice is no exception. CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice – a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.