By Riley Uglum, OD
In the first article of this series we looked at how our dream of becoming a successful OD (in optometry school) mutates into something different once we start to build a successful practice. This shift becomes more pronounced each year because of the increasing complexity of the health care playing field and our inability to manage the ever increasing demands of a growing business. I realize now that there is an entrepreneurial way of thinking which allows us to manage all of this more efficiently. Had I understood this as a 4th year optometry student, I’d have been much better prepared for OD Success!
Obviously many things have changed since I was training to be an OD. As I write this, I’m flying back from Arizona after spending a week there with 21 other entrepreneurs from around the world. We were there to obtain advanced certification in a cutting edge business automation software. Some of them traveled from as far away as Australia, Singapore and the UK. None were optometrists but all were entrepreneurial small business owners. So what does this have to do with an article focused on optometry?
My point here is this, anyone with private practice aspirations must start thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. Look for opportunities to network with them as I did this past week. You will find that successful entrepreneurs, regardless of business type, are always focused on growing and systemizing their business. If you’ve read my earlier articles in this publication, you already know that E-Myth Systems are critical to the success of my practice. So let’s take a look at the systems related to business growth because they can make or break an optometry practice – especially for new optometry graduates starting their own business or joining a private practice as a prospective partner. These growth systems need to:
- Attract potential patients (leads)
- Convert those leads into patient appointments
- Keep existing patients in an appropriate pre-appointment cycle
- Provide “WOW” experience prior to the day of their appointment
- Deliver “WOW” experience during their examination
- Sell products and services that fulfill patient needs
- Provide “WOW” followup after their exam and on all purchases
- Present upsell opportunities
- Obtain referrals
- Nurture patients until the next sale
- Shorten the sales cycle
Far too often these systems are under utilized or not used at all. That’s because there are so many moving parts to manage. Most small business owners simply don’t have the time or expertise to do that. But automation changes all that! It means we don’t need to actively manage the systems once they are set up. That’s what we do in my practice and the reason I traveled to Arizona for a week was to get advanced training on new and improved automation tools. Here is an example of how an automated growth system might work in your practice to attract and convert new patients or re-activate old:
They learn about a special offer on your website via print ads, radio, direct mail, Facebook, SEO or your digital newsletter and enter their email in a web form on your website. Details are delivered to them via a digital download. This download also gives information on other special products and services with link clicks to learn more. Any clicks are tagged and they are re-directed into a campaign that gives more detailed information on that product or service. The new campaign contains other links that allow them to schedule an appointment or have a staff member call them. If an appointment is scheduled, they are put into an automated “WOW” campaign prior to their exam. If they don’t click on anything, they are put into a longer term nurture and education campaign which keeps your brand in front of them so they will choose you when they do need eye
This is just one example of how systems and automation work together. There are other automations for “WOWING” patients after their exam or optical purchase, providing more information on things discussed in the office (CRT, dry eye, VT, sports vision, glaucoma, macular degeneration, etc.), asking for referrals, presenting upsell opportunity packages and ensuring that patients know how to use their vision insurance benefits appropriately.
Again, please note that all of this runs in the background, and the only time we or our staff actually interact with the patient is when they “bubble up” and want that interaction. As I left the office last week, a staff member was on the phone explaining a cosmetic procedure for a patient that had “bubbled up” as a result of our post exam follow up campaign. This patient “self selected” for the procedure by clicking a link in our general follow up campaign. This told the automated system that they would like more detailed information and re-directed them into another campaign that actively promoted the procedure. A couple more link clicks in the targeted cosmetic campaign triggered an email to our staff that this patient should be called.
The real beauty here is that we only engage with those who want to be engaged with. We don’t waste our time (and our patient’s time) explaining products and services that they have no real need for. That’s not to say that they won’t be interested in the future, so we continue a gentle “drip” campaign to keep them informed.
In summary, the following pieces of wisdom are what I wish I knew as a 4th year optometry student rather than learning it the hard way:
Efficient marketing systems are critical to success in private practice
A superior clinician with poor marketing skills will struggle.
An adequate clinician with exceptional marketing abilities can be successful!
An excellent doctor with great automated marketing systems will thrive!
To learn more about systems and automation in an optometry practice, visit www.promethean-ventures.com
Photo: Copyright: tomwang / 123RF Stock Photo
Dr. Riley Uglum is a 38-year veteran of the optometry profession and is President of Eye Care Associates Of New Hampton. He is also the founder and CEO of Promethean Ventures, a company whose mission is to help private practice health care practitioners prosper by combining systemic health care strategies with time tested wealth creation tools. He has co-authored a book titled The E-Myth Optometrist with Michael E. Gerber, and is a Michael E. Gerber Partners’ Company author and founding partner. Dr. Uglum is also executive director of the National Wellness Alliance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org