Make a few simple adjustments so that you can spread some holiday cheer this year!
One of the major themes of this time of year is ‘spreading cheer’ which, in my opinion, is much more difficult today than it was years ago. Technology has made many of us, strangely, both more social and antisocial at the same time. It’s much easier to sit and chat online and text than it is to have a normal conversation with someone that’s standing right in front of us. For instance, one of the major sources of business can be word-of-mouth, which I’m sure you already knew. In order to get that word of mouth, you need to make sure the word is coming from the right place.
Your professional networking isn’t just limited to others within this industry, but also in the community. You want people to think of you first when the need an eye exam or eyewear.
If you’re an optician: How many ODs or OMDs are there within ten miles of you that don’t dispense eyewear? If you don’t know the answer to that question – you probably should. They are going to be some of the easiest referrals you can get. Whether it’s from a hospital or private practice, these are the people that just got a brand new prescription and have nowhere to fill it. If they leave without being directed anywhere, then many of their first reactions are going to be that “Well, I’ll just go look online for someone.” That’s when they inevitably find that they can buy eyewear online, so figure they’ll try that first. Then they never even set foot in a shop. By establishing a relationship with these offices, you can help yourself, and them. A gift basket for the staff at some of these places can go a long way in getting your foot in the door in terms of referrals.
If you’re an optometrist: How many primary care doctors are in your area? How many of them do you network with? The more of them you can get to know, the more likely they are to be able to refer to you when they have someone with an eye problem. Part of the selling point here is that you can help their patients save money by avoiding urgent care and/or the ER. With the way healthcare costs seem to be going, this can be a big selling point. You need to teach both your patients, as well as other professionals who may refer to you, about all the services you can offer. The key here is to get them to think of you first before they decide that they’re just going to the ER.
Let’s take, for example, a local pediatrician. Do they refer all of their patients to get routine vision screening from you? Why not? Have some of their patients ever even been to see an Optometrist? It’s up to you to help convince the General Practitioner that it’s in their patients’ best interest to have them seen, at least to get a baseline established. They may not even be that familiar with the costs involved to get a vision exam. I mean, they usually make sure that kids get a dental exam, right? So why shouldn’t they be referring everyone get vision screening? Even if they do their basic exam and say that a child should see an Optometrist, do they make it easy for the parents to find you? It’s probably worth an afternoon of your time to help train the doctor and their staff about why it’s good for their patients to come see you. Also, you want to make sure they have plenty of your business cards on hand. If it’s just part of their routine, it makes it easy for you to get referrals. If every time they do a vision screening and someone doesn’t pass, they get a piece of paper with your card stapled to it – how great would that be?
While this is obviously good to do all year round, it’s usually a good time now because you have time to think about it.
– Bill Heffner, IV