How to compete with “FREE”!

By Susie Aliphon

Have you heard of that little company called coastal.com?  You know, the one that offers “Free Glasses” on Facebook?

We started following them about four years ago when their domain was ‘coastalcontactlenses.com’.  This was before they realized their treasure in online eyewear.  Back then they reported $4M in annual revenue, the year after it was $10M.  Last year they reported $50.3M in just one quarter!  (Do you really think a company could earn that much revenue by giving product away for free?)

But how do YOU compete with such offers?  What do YOU have that they don’t?

The answer is simple- Insurance!

Most independent Optometrists state that 85% to 95% of their patient base has some sort of vision insurance plan.  Within most of these plans is an average $120 frame allowance and the lens, if single vision, is usually completely covered.  I’d call that a free pair of glasses, wouldn’t you?  (Although the extras like A/R coating, etc will cost more, those extras also cost more on most websites including coastal.com.)

If you do nothing else this year, make sure YOU and YOUR staff are taking the time to educate your patients regarding their Vision Insurance plan.  Don’t assume they know their coverage; chances are they don’t!

With a bit of knowledge, your patients will realize they can do better in your office than the $65 generic pair of frames offered for FREE online!

About greeneyes…..

greeneyes is committed to the success of private optometry.  Call us for a customized, in person approach to compete with the online retailers and big box chains.  Learn how to win the battle!

2013 Resolutions…..

"Happy 2013 from greeneyes"

1.   Go to the gym 3x a week.

Wait a minute….

First, join a gym.

2.   Call Mom more often.

3.   Trip to Italy.

Scratch that.

Just make sure to take a vacation this year.

4.   Eat less.

5.   Make more money.

 

Every year most of us take the time to plot a few resolves for the new year.  And every year most of us fail to follow through.

The same holds true for that last seminar you attended or the latest course you took.  It begins with the best of intentions but lacks follow through.

At greeneyes follow up is one of our central components as it’s critical to the success of any new endeavor.  (All of our consulting programs include 60-90 day follow up, which takes place in your very own office!)

So while your resolutions are still fresh and you remember where you wrote them, we’d like to suggest you take a minute to enter a calendar note in Outlook or Google Calendar.  Each month you’ll get a pop-up reminder to keep you on track!

And if one of your resolutions this year is maximizing patient spend or increasing patient flow in your office, make sure you give greeneyes a call!

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Sales People are Sharks!!

Or so the general population would have you believe.  We’re right down there with lawyers, cons and politicians.

But wait!  Don’t all businesses begin and end with sales?  If sales are good, you’re in business.  If sales aren’t good, you’re out of business.  And as a small business owner/optometrist you are selling yourself to your patients nearly every hour.  You sell them on your competency, your professionalism, your friendliness….  You are selling yourself to your patients to make sure they come back to YOU and your office.

At greeneyes we have found that Optometrists aren’t the only individuals wishing to wear garlic around sales people.  Generally speaking, your staff shares your sentiments.  Yet without sales skills how can you possibly ‘sell’ annual supplies of contact lenses to your patients?  How is it possible to entice patients to buy two pair of frames?  Or sunglasses?  Or convert an inquiry phone call in to an actual scheduled eye exam?

You can’t.  And chances are, you’re not.

Before you and your staff can implement professional sales skills in your office it’s important to note the differences between a used car salesman and a sales professional.  The key is to embrace the latter.

At greeneyes we have seen the impact of professional sales skills adopted in offices as we train staff members to become a selling force in Optometry.  And as Optometrists see the impact on their total revenue, we have yet to be called “Sharks”!  Changing your beliefs can change your circumstances.

Missed Opportunities

A woman arrives at your office for the first time.  The girl at the reception area raises her head and says hello, then continues to shuffle through her paperwork.  Feeling a bit intrusive, the woman walks to the frame selection and begins to try them on.  Ten minutes go by and the woman awkwardly approaches the reception area again and interrupts the girl at the desk.

“My husband and I are new to the area and need to find a new Optometrist.  You were listed as a provider for our new insurance”.  The girl at the desk clarifies the insurance carrier, politely answers a few other questions, then hands the woman your business card and suggests she call for an appointment.

Although this, being a true story, was probably not your office…..could it have been?  Is your staff scheduling exams when the opportunities present themselves?  Why would someone call for an appointment when that staff member could have scheduled an exam right then and there?

The answer is simple- staff training.

At greeneyes our work begins with a Secret Shopper sent to evaluate each practice we work with and we are always surprised by the results.  (As evidenced above.)  For all the time and money spent on marketing, for all the energy spent to attract new patients to your office, the plan falls short when our Secret Shopper walks through the door.  In fact, your marketing strategy needs to include the most important component of all; what to do and say when a potential patient calls or walks through your door.  If you are unable to convert your marketing ideas and dollars in to new patient exams then you are throwing your money away.  If an idea or a campaign is unable to translate commercially, it is of little value.

So what should you do?

At the very least, bring your staff up to speed with your latest marketing efforts.  Stress the importance of always asking to schedule an exam and rehearse the scenarios with your staff at your next meeting.  OR, call in a professional who can train your staff in the areas that make a difference to your bottom line.  You’ll have a better chance of avoiding missed opportunities…..and income!

How Do I Motivate My Staff?

Part 1

Before you discover what does or doesn’t motivate your staff the first question you should really ask yourself is, “What am I trying to achieve”? In other words, what are you trying to motivate your staff to do?

There are many ideas regarding the word motivation. ‘Bring in candy for your staff’. ‘Give out movie tickets’. ‘Have everyone wear red one day’. ‘Say Thank You’.

We’ve all heard these ideas. We have read these ideas. Some of us have even rolled our eyes.

Motivation is only one component to a much bigger picture which is, achieving a goal. So once again, what are you looking to achieve? The answer must be specific.

Are you looking to see a higher rate of A/R coatings in your Optical Department? Do you need annual exam reminder calls to be made for an increase in exams? Would you like to sell more annual supplies of contact lenses?

Whatever you are trying to achieve, make it a staff goal and THEN determine the proper motivation to achieve that goal.

Often times the term ‘motivation’ is confused with happiness, high energy and positive attitudes. At greeneyes we have found these traits to be the natural outcome when individuals are achieving a goal.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action”.

Who Trained Your Staff?

Nine times out of ten it wasn’t you. (Assuming “You” are a private practice Optometrist.) Nine times out of ten it was one of your tenured staff members training that new team member. After all, you’re busy seeing patients and that senior staff member knows what they’re doing, right?

Probably. Maybe. For the most part. Or, not.

Your staff has a greater influence on your patients experience than you! In fact, when a patient looks for a new Optometrist, 75% of the time it’s due to a negative experience with the staff. The same rule applies to the loyal patient.

This makes sense when you factor in the total patient experience: scheduling their eye exam, updating their paperwork in your office, pre-testing, buying their contact lenses, choosing frames, coming back for follow up and picking up their end product. The list could go on.

When you spend most of your time in the exam room, do you really know what’s going on ‘outside’?

If you do nothing else this year, take some time to “check in”. At greeneyes we call it secret shopping. Ask a friend to call your office and see how your staff handles your phones. Better yet, have them come in for an exam.

This one small step of “checking in” can prevent future patients from “checking out”.