Looking for a more effective way to evaluate vision care plans, staff, products and professional productivity? The EDGE™ is a consultative tool that provides easy access to your profit centers through a web-based system. Last week I spoke with Jay Binkowitz, president of GPN™ (exclusive provider of The EDGE™), who provided some insight into how The EDGE™ can, well…give you an “edge”.
New Media OD: You describe The EDGE™ as a “Performance Management Philosophy”. Can you elaborate on that?
Jay: Yes. The EDGE™ is not a reporting system providing static reports and excel spreadsheets. It is a well thought out philosophy on what you should be tracking and what the information means. It takes you through a proven management routine with a series of graphs, charts and easy to understand information. But more importantly it provides you and your team the business resources to know what to do about. I call that the “then what”.
New Media OD: Could you provide a quick overview of how the Edge works?
Jay: We seamlessly sync up with many of the industry practice management systems and upload the information from their system to our web based system The EDGE™. It takes place at night and does not have any negative effect on their program or resources.
New Media OD: Do you think too many ODs spend time on unproductive, low-value activities, and how does The EDGE™. help re-direct their efforts? Read more »
EyeXam is currently the #1 app on the App store when searching for “eye exam” or “eye doctor”.
From a consumer standpoint, consumers can download the free app to conveniently communicate with VSP offices. The most popular and highly-rated features of the app include appointment scheduling anytime-anywhere, instant messaging offices to ask questions, place optical and contact lens replacement orders, set personalized reminders, view on-going promotions for eye-related products and receive notifications from VSP offices regarding upcoming promotions, sales and trunk shows.
From a practitioners’ standpoint, the EyeXam Dashboard will connect the eyecare provider’s office with new and existing patients by providing valuable information about perspective patients who are in the area looking for eyecare providers and have looked at the practitioner’s profile. This enhanced marketing tool is crucial in the eyecare providers ability to expand their practice. Offices who subscribe to the mobile platform can promote sales at their offices, send reminders to their patients and communicate with their patients via EyeXam without bombarding their email and text message inboxes. VSP providers are already listed in the mobile app and can take advantage of the app’s great features by upgrading their profile for a low monthly subscription fee.
More information about EyeXam can be found at: http://www.eyexam.com
QR codes are still a bit of an enigma for many people. If you’re one of those people, you might think that most people share the same indifference toward these funny looking bar codes. However, you might be surprised to hear that more than 50% of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code (ComScore), and they have grown by 120% from this time last year (NeoMedia).
Any smartphone equipped with a camera and a QR reader can scan a QR code, which serves as a link connecting you with digital or web content. This technology allows you to interact with your patients and customers on a higher level. Patients can scan these codes to learn about your products or services in a more interactive way. Consider placing these in your optical or dispensary inviting patients to scan the code to see a video on the benefits of polarized lenses, progressives, etc. Although we train our opticians to discuss these benefits, people tend to have a stronger emotional reaction to visual imagery. If patients can “see” the value, they may be pre-sold before even sitting down with the optician.
Showrooming is when a customer enters a brick and morter store to touch and feel the product and then goes online or to a big-box competitor to purchase at a lower price. While this is most common with electronics and retail clothing, I think its nonetheless worthy of our attention as online frame vendors become increasingly prevelant. Research has shown that the longer you can keep customers in your business and engaged in the products you sell, the greater the chance you will keep the sale in-house. Click HERE to see a quick video on QR codes and the showrooming effect.
Make it Easy!
A few suggestions on QR codes: If room permits, provide brief instructions for your tech-averse patients (ie. visit scan.mobi on your smartphone and download the QR reader). Also, let them know what will happen when they scan the code. Don’t simply assume they will scan it just because you placed it there. Lastly, consider that people who scan QR codes are on their mobile phone. Don’t send them to your desktop website. People on-the-go have short attention spans and want quick info, a full website does not render well on a 3 inch screen. Now if you have a “mobile website” – that’s a different story!
Turn Scans into Revenue
It should also be noted that a third of people who scan a QR code have a household income over $100K, so these might serve to attract consumers of a higher income level with greater spending power.
If you’re looking for ways to make your optical more interactive, click HERE to access a list of QR codes that link to educational videos. Take as many as you like – they’re free! (author’s note: I do have permission from the various companies to use / distribute these videos for patient education purposes)
About Steve: Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. is in private practice in St. John, Indiana where he lives with his wife and 2 sons. He also founded iMobile Communications, and frequently writes and lectures about using technology for marketing and communication.
Guest blogger: Chad Fleming, OD, FAAO…
There is a need among optometrists to be highly organized and technology affords you the ability to do this. Due to the demands of practice efficiency this is a must in being successful. Interestingly enough, I have met many ODs that are not organized and I wonder how they do it. They attempt to utilize sticky notes or scrap paper. Or they have a “technology” of using a word document to put their thoughts into. I’ve also heard ODs that bookmark everything in their browser but then are unable to locate what they bookmarked because it is difficult to search bookmarks for content. They attempt to juggle all the balls in their mind and then frustrate others by forgetting the little things. They can’t find that piece of paper or bookmark that had information on it. Unfortunately, the information is needed for the meeting that started 15 minutes ago. For some it works, others, utter chaos!
Technology has changed this old way of project and task management. The best organizational program available, in my opinion, is called Evernote. This piece of software allows you to be organized from any computer or phone and it all syncs together simultaneously. I currently use 3 main technology devices (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air) and Evernote allows me to access data from any of them. One key feature that I enjoy with Evernote is the ability to easily clip any web page and send it directly to Evernote for reference later. Evernote will also efficiently search all notes and content within the notes. I would not be capable of going completely paperless in optometry and in life if not for Evernote. There are many other great features of this software. The greatest thing is that it is free.
So where does this fit into transitioning an optometry practice. It fits into the demand for you to be highly organized and efficient. Having all your notes, quotes, recommendations, numbers, etc., all at your fingertips gives you a competitive advantage among your peers and give you the information you need when you need it to make good practice management decisions. It also helps de-clutter that mind of yours.
About Chad: Chad Fleming, OD, FAAO is an owner of a 4 doctor practice in Wichita, KS where he lives with his wife and 2 boys. Dr. Fleming is also the Business & Career Consultant for AOA Excel. He coaches doctors in becoming associates, transitioning to partners and selling optometry practices. He is also founder/ceo of OptomteryCEO, LLC.
The 80/20 Principle asserts that 80 percent of what you achieve comes from 20 percent of effort. For all practical purposes, this suggests that 80 percent of our effort is largely irrelevant. Contrary to what people think, the relationship between inputs and outputs (effort and reward) is largely imbalanced. In business, many examples of this theory have been validated. Twenty percent of products usually account for 80 percent of dollar value sales; so do 20 percent of customers.
Are the most powerful resources of your practice being held back by a majority of much less effective resources? The 80/20 Principle suggests that profits could be multiplied if more of the best sort of products sold, employees hired, or customers attracted.
- Products: OD’s are investing greater time and advertising dollars into attracting the least loyal and least profitable patients we have – price shoppers. The most obvious example is contact lens patients who take their script to discount or online retailers. Perhaps this makes up 10 percent of our contact lens base, yet we restructure our entire pricing plan around this segment. Many docs have mitigated this trap by focusing on contacts with superior lens technology AND higher profit margins. Read more »
In many businesses, it’s impossible to satisfy all customers’ needs by treating them uniformly. Each market segment has its own unique needs and preferences. The main objective in market segmentation is to maximize advertising efficiency and deliver more targeted messages to your customer base, allowing companies to develop marketing campaigns that appeal to those who are most likely to make a purchase. Your patient base can be segmented by a number of factors. For eye care professionals, some market segment examples might be age, occupation, product usage and previous dollar spend.
- Age. If a product appeals to a certain age group, you may want to target this market with a specific offer. For example, invite your 40-55 year old patients to a free clinic on multi-focal CLs. Your staff can insert lenses for the attendees to try, and then schedule them for a full exam at a later date if they prefer. Perhaps you practice in a high income area with a high percentage of younger patients. You might target 20-40 year olds for a similar promotion on Lasik. You should be able to access this data from your practice management software.
- Hobbies and occupation. If you have a way to track this, certain hobbies and occupations lend them themselves to customized eyewear. An obvious example is computer use. Patients whose job requires significant computer use would be prime candidates for coupons or promotions for computer glasses, or maybe dry eye consults. Work in an area with a lot of skiers or fishermen? Target them with a discount on polarized glasses or sports goggles. Read more »
Doctor: Would you like to order your contacts today, Mrs. Smith?
Mrs. Smith: That’s OK. I’ll just take the prescription and get them online.
What happened here? You just did a thorough, high-tech eye exam on Mrs. Smith, addressed all her complaints, answered all her questions, and then without hesitation she informs you that she will be taking her business elsewhere. Let’s rewind 20 minutes and see if there’s anything we could have done to elicit a different response.
In the book Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini takes an insightful look at the power of persuasion and what causes people to say yes (or no) to what you are offering. According to Dr. Cialdini, one of the most potent weapons of influence is reciprocity. Reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. To illustrate this rule, psychologist Dennis Regan had subjects believe they were in an “art appreciation” experiment with a partner, who was really Regan’s assistant. At one point, the assistant left the room and returned with a soft drink for the other subject. When the art experiment was done, the assistant asked the other subject to do him a favor by purchasing raffle tickets. The subjects who had received the earlier favor bought twice as many raffle tickets as the control group who had not been given the prior favor, despite never asking for the soft drink to begin with. This is a rather simple example, but we see this situation played out rather frequently with businesses that offer no-cost information (ie. free inspections, evaluations, etc.) that often results in customers giving their business to the firm that rendered the initial, complementary service.
There’s no denying the retail side of eye care. Regardless of you’re mode of practice, there’s a good chance that if there’s an “OD” after your name that you or your employer sells stuff. And since you sell stuff, you’ve probably used coupons to try to sell more stuff. Coupons, when targeted and relevant, can be a great call-to-action that sparks business. The downside to traditional coupons is they tend to be mass distributed, which can make them costly and inefficient. Enter mobile marketing. Send a coupon or promotion to your customers (patients) that is targeted, incredibly easy to redeem, and will likely be with them at all times…send it to their mobile phone.
According to Borrell Associates, mobile coupons produce significantly higher redemption rates than print coupons. “For advertisers, mobile coupons offer a great ROI,” said Peter Conti, junior executive president at Borrell Associates. “Redemption rates are 10 times that of email – or newspaper – distributed coupons.” Their report shows mobile marketing is set to reach dominant penetration levels. The fast increase is largely due to an existing installed base of cell phones – that over 80% of the population has – and the number of smartphone users has approached 50%.
Text based coupons are the fastest-growing and most obvious application that is also easy to implement. There is nothing to download, print, or cut; and the coupon goes right to their mobile phone which most people have with them at all times. In a previous post I discussed the importance of marketing messages being timely, relevant, and valuable. If you work with recall software that allows you to send text reminders, consider including mobile coupons with the reminder. This could be in the form of a redeemable coupon code or simply writing the offer into the text. When combined with recall, this coupon is being sent to possibly the most targeted audience we have – our patients – at the exact time they require our services. Not all patients are open to receiving text messages from businesses, but the ones who opt-in tend to be more engaged and loyal to your brand.
Customer (patient) retention is one of the most important aspects of growing your business. This is especially true for patients you’ve only seen once. Research has shown that two time buyers are twice as likely to return as one time buyers. Translation for doctors: if you can turn that one time patient into a two time patient, you may have earned their long-term business. You may have effectively become their “doctor” instead of that “place they bought glasses” last year.
Most doctors have a patient recall system that, when implemented effectively, should provide a very healthy ROI. These appointment reminders are being sent to patients that have already been to our office. Hopefully you and your staff created a positive impression that communicated trust and likeability. An established practice may spend several thousand dollars annually on recall, but are we getting the most “bang for our buck” with this investment?
Eye care providers typically underestimate the average interval between eye exams. A study by the Management and Business Academy (MBA) found that while many doctors estimate the interval between exams for contact lenses and glasses-only patients is 14 months and 18 month respectively, consumer data reveals the median intervals between exams is closer to 18 months for contact lens patients and 24-27 months for glasses-only wearers. This raises the question of whether we should heighten our efforts to bring patients back at the one year mark, or rather adjust our recall schedule to accommodate our patients and make our recall more timely.
For the most part, consumers hate advertisements. There’s a reason we change the television channel or radio station when a commercial comes on. There’s a reason pop-up blockers and spam filters exist. There’s a reason everybody and their grandma has registered for the do-not-call registry. Now there’s many ‘free’ smartphone apps that will charge a fee to provide the game or service free of all ads. People actually pay to NOT receive ads! Could there be a stronger indictment against traditional marketing?
So how can we design a marketing strategy that overcomes consumer’s natural aversion to traditional marketing? For starters, let’s consider that consumers really don’t hate all advertisements, they just hate interruptive ads. In fact, under the right circumstances consumers actually welcome marketing messages. 3 elements to consider in your marketing efforts are value, relevance, and timeliness.
I suppose it goes without saying, but your marketing message must provide value to your audience to be effective. The problem is our audience is made up of different people with different needs and values, yet often times we offer the same coupon or promotion to everyone. To make your marketing more all-encompassing, implement marketing strategies that target the individual needs and buying habits of your patients.