Updated: Jan 3
Hello, optometry practice managers! If you have a practice that is part of a larger parent company, you may not have to spend much time trying to figure out how to get patients through your door since the parent company takes care of that for you!
However, if your parent company does not provide this service or if you are an independent practice, it can be difficult to brainstorm ways to increase your patient load while taking care of your patients!
Here are some ideas on how to increase traffic to your practice as well as how to easily implement them. Remember any marketing ideas take 6 months or more to gather enough data to determine their effectiveness.
Let’s start with the ones you probably hear about all the time:
1) Use social media!
You probably hear this so often you’re tired of hearing it. Maybe you are already using social media and nothing is happening! So how do you use social media in a way that is quick, easy, and most likely to be effective?
a. Choose one day a month or one day a quarter for content creation. You can then use a social media scheduler such as HootSuite, Buffer, or Sendible. That way you are limiting the time commitment to 4 or 12 times a year.
c. Vary your content! Not every post has to be “Come check out our office”. Types of posts can include
1. Clearing up common misconceptions about eye care
2. Posting funny/relatable eye-care memes or pictures
3. Fun facts about the office staff
4. Emphasizing the importance of eye health
5. Advertising raffles, discounts, specials, etc.
6. Spread information about your referral program
d. Post 3-7 times a week at the same time with a set of predetermined hashtags. Your social media scheduler can help you with this a lot!
2) Optimize your Website
This is another one you probably hear a lot. But what does that mean? Your website is one of the things that it is genuinely worth investing money in. There are some not-so-helpful agencies out in the world that won’t help you with SEO or keyword optimization, and then there are some that are known for producing excellent results like the SEO Queen.
3) Create a referral program
Word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the leading reasons why patients trust doctors. So giving your patients an incentive to recommend you to their friends and family can go a long way toward generating new patients. What types of incentives can you offer?
a. X% or $X off their next appointment and the referrals appointment
b. X% or $X off the next order of contacts or glasses lenses for them and their referred individual
c. A free daily contact lens dispenser or pair of sunglasses when the referral books an appointment
d. A gift card to a local eatery or store for the referral and referee
4) Pay-per-click advertising
This one is the least recommended but definitely still an option! Advertising can be a great way to grow a following in a new area. Advertising should never exceed more than 1/3 of your marketing budget. Google ads, local billboards/tv spots, and localized internet ads end up being the most effective.
Now that we’ve gone over some marketing tips that you have probably heard of many times before, let’s dive into some more novel ideas that could set you apart from your competition.
1) Integrate virtual care or an online helpline
Obviously, due to the nature of eye care, all patients need to be seen at least once a year. But some conditions such as styes could be recognized and advice given via a video call. And some patients feel more comfortable making an appointment in person having had a virtual consultation appointment first. For example: a patient may call because their eyes are very red and itchy. During the online visit, you could describe all the reasons that could be the case and help them narrow it down. If the reason is one that can be only diagnosed in person, you can encourage them to come in and they are more likely to do so knowing that’s the only option left.
2) Write letters to the patient’s Primary Care Physician (with their permission of course)
Many conditions of the eye can affect the body and vice versa. Maintaining a friendly dialogue with a patient’s primary care physician ensuresPCP-specific all doctors are on the same page and increases patient trust. Doing so can also increase referrals from PCP’s especially if you create a PCP specific referral program.
3) Consider what you can do that other offices can’t to boost Patient satisfaction.
Do you get people in for appointments right away? Do you have a low in-office wait time? Are you close to a lot of homes? Do you have lower prices than surrounding practices? Are your staff friendlier, more knowledgeable, etc.? Whatever sets you apart, be sure you are telling people via social media, ads, local media, etc. so your patients know why YOU should be their first choice.
How do you know why patients pick you? Send them surveys! Ask them while they’re in the office or booking their appointment!
4) Run promotions!
Similar to referrals, you can offer promotions to people just for showing up. These can be for new patients only, returning patients only, patients that order contacts and/or glasses while in the office, etc.
Most large companies only offer promotions for glasses patients. Offer promotions for contact lens patients such as a free daily contact lens dispenser with an appointment/order in order to draw in more contact lens patients.
After all, the average eyeglasses-only patient generates $800 in gross revenue over a six-year period, or $133 per year. The average contact lens patient produces $1,370 in revenue over six years or $228 per year.
So contact lens patients are definitely worth more in the long run, why not try to attract them specifically?
We hope this helpful guide helped the brainstorming go smoother and that all of your practices are booming with new patients before too long.
Founder of OptoOrg