Why You Need to Be a Patient

I’m an ABO certified optician and founder of Optician Now. I’ve been working in Optometry since 2008 and am currently with Monroe Vision Clinic in Monroe, WA. The five doctor practice I call home is quite unique as our office is located in a farming community yet we’re also close to Amazon and Microsoft.

I founded Optician Now (OpticianNow.com) to serve as a resource platform to speak up and be a helpful resource for those within the industry. Over the years I’ve seen the same optician related questions asked over and over again, so I decided to put everything into one static, easily indexed place. One message I repeat is that you need to be your own patient. In other words, you need to see everything through their eyes.

THROUGH A PATIENT’S EYES

Start by finding someone to look at your practice as a patient would. It could be a friend

or business neighbor, a family member in college, or someone recommended by the Chamber of Commerce. Be resourceful and use someone who will provide valuable feedback – utilize your resourcefulness; you don’t need a budget if you can find someone who will help. You could even trade services with a community business person and provide the same feedback for their business. Don’t use an employee as they (and you) will not look at this project through the eye of a patient who is less familiar with the business.

You want that person to 1) look at every angle of the practice through the eyes of a patient and 2) be honest with you.

They, and you, need to start at the beginning. That is, when and where patients first come to you, which is likely by “Googling” you directly or by searching for “optometrist near me.”

UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE

Make sure everything is correct and up-to-date on your website (if you don’t yet have one then get one). Is your phone number prominent? Are your hours and address correct? Are your staff photos and services current? You should also have a call to action, one bold and standout thing that visitors will see first. Ex: “schedule online”, “use your 2019 benefits before the end of the year, schedule now”, etc.

If you need to make changes on your website and don’t know how, go back to whoever last worked on it or ask your web host (GoDaddy as an example) how to get changes made. Once you know how to login and make changes, you can get in and make changes from this point forward.

Then go a deeper. If you sell glasses, is that information current – do you have brands listed? Are store photos correct? If you’ve done a redesign or even rearranged things, the photos should look the way the store appears today. The customer should have a sense of familiarity like they’ve seen it before on your website.

WALK THE WALK

Those are the basics. Ask the helper you’ve enlisted to walk your entire location and look around.

Are pictures crooked? Is the carpet torn or paint chipped or scuffed? Are lightbulbs burned out? That’s going to represent your patient’s first impression. You should at minimum have basic housekeeping and maintenance kept up.

Then have them go through the office from front to back, and even sit in the chairs…waiting room, pre-test, exam room and optical. What do they notice that is out of place or not up to par?

What about the windows and branding in optical? Is there so much POP that you can’t see inside or to the outside? Is the branding clean, inviting and layed out so it organizes your frames or is it busy, mismatched or cluttered?

Don’t get too comfortable with the way things are. Most patients come in yearly, and everything shouldn’t look exactly the same the next time they return.

SMART MARKETING

For starters, make sure everything has your logo on it. One thing we’ve done is create a marketing opportunity around a contact lens recycling program. You can put a printout in each exam room and/or hand out with each daily contact lens purchase. We also offer free refills of cleaning spray bottles.  A side benefit? Someone comes in to recycle or for a refill, and maybe that new red frame catches their eye and generates a sale.

CHIP AWAY

How do you get all of this done? No matter how long your list is, start with the top three in priority and just chip away. Set a goal for what you would like to complete each week or month and you’ll eventually complete your list! The most important thing is to have someone be honest and provide valuable feedback for you to begin work on.

Erinn Morgan