By Frederick Frost, OD
Over the past 14 months, I have made dramatic changes to my private practice that have paid great dividends. Before I talk about those changes, it is important to see where I was before I started.
I had been in private practice for 28 years. While the practice was going fine, we were not growing or slipping—we were stagnant. Our dispensary sales were flat, and our private pay sales were abysmal. It was extremely rare to sell a second pair of glasses under any circumstances.
Our labs provided acceptable service, but we were waiting a week to 10 days to receive our jobs. Many patients were not happy about this. Like everyone, my practice was under attack from online opticals and same-day opticals that could give as good or better service for a lower price.
Rethinking our approach
But then a series of events happened that caused me to rethink the whole basis of my practice.
It started when I learned that LensCrafters, one of the oldest one-hour labs, was getting rid of its in-store labs and moving away from one-hour service. I also heard that Walmart was not doing a lot of same-day service any more.
In fact, it seemed that almost every optical, private or not, was going to centralize lab work in order to save money at the expense of patient convenience.
Because many local labs were moving away from same-day service and into slower service, this gave me an idea where I could differentiate my practice. I was going to do completely the opposite of all of these companies.
I was going to change my practice top to bottom to deliver same-day optical service, and in general, improve all aspects of the customer service we were delivering both professional and retail. <end article>
In January 2018, Dr. Frost added a Q-2100 Digital Lens System with nanoCLEAR AR, ensuring same-day optical service for most patients
<begin article> …Many of the pieces were now starting to fall in place. We had the faster turnaround time we wanted, but we ensured that we had the quality we wanted. By stocking only polycarbonate AR lenses, patients who wanted same-day service had to purchase a premium product. Our cast lenses are quality high-index aspheric lenses. All of my patients were now going to walk out with glasses that I could be proud of…
Better service, happier patients
The result of the changes my practice implemented was that patients were blown away.
As an example, we had an employee from Amazon go bonkers when we made his glasses in 10 minutes, then he referred his mother. She came in the same day after canceling her appointment at an optical that used to offer same-day service. This started a chain reaction of referrals and new patients coming into the practice.
We added our same-day service pledge to our website, which we updated with online appointment scheduling and optimized for mobile viewing.
Streamlining our optical, adding online appointments, and providing same-day service freed up staff time. We were able to increase the number of appointments we booked every day by 25 percent, which further improved our bottom line.<click to read complete article>