Bee Cave Vision Center was doing well on the outskirts of Austin, TX, when it sensed a growth opportunity brewing in an expanding nearby community.
In the music business they call it “second album syndrome.” Regardless of the reason, the result is a flop. But what does it mean to “build on success” anyway? In retail terms, the question might be: “Should I open a second store?” We believe the goal should not be to “duplicate” success, but to learn from it. Showing us how it’s done is Bee Cave Vision Center, which successfully added a second location just outside Austin, TX.
Dr. Brad Dobson wanted to expand his original practice in Bee Cave, TX, but the real growth in the area seemed to be happening in neighboring Dripping Springs. “Our demographics showed a large part of our patient base was living in between the practices or in Dripping Springs, and we wanted a more convenient option for them and to make room for more growth in Bee Cave.”
Dobson knew there was groundwork to be laid. “We had to be patient and allow our first practice to mature and to have a strong enough presence in the community. We waited for the second community to take off and then jumped in to grow with Dripping Springs’ changes.”
When the time came, the focus switched to finding a location. He designed improvements into the second practice, making sure to offer something different from competitors.
Communicating and discussing the new mission openly with staff was also crucial, he says, as scheduling and coverage became more challenging. “We have more patient care hours, which involved hiring more staff and making sure new schedules were working out.” The business adopted new software to seamlessly share medical records between practices.
“We’ve given the new location a boutique optical feel and offered even more diverse frame lines to give patients options that the competition or our first practice may not have.” The stores are not that far apart, so staff have found it practical to refer patients to the second location “to find that perfect match” in terms of frames.
Dobson has been surprised by how quickly word has gotten out. “Our days have been quite busy and allowed us to get into the groove right away. It’s fun to practice in a new office setting after 15 years. ”
There are benefits beyond the optical realm, as well. Being able to invest in the second property while the first was still under a lease creates equity in a rapidly growing community.
Dobson quickly acknowledges that having the right people is crucial. “My staff has done an extraordinary job of learning new skills and growing the practice. We not only have staff members promoting both locations, but they also have more overlap in duties to cover each other. This has allowed me more clinic time so more patients can be seen efficiently.”
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DO IT YOURSELF: OPENING A SECOND STORE
1. LOCATION SCOUTING. “Make sure you are happy with who you will be seeing long term as well as the growth potential of the area,” advises Dobson.
2. NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. Which factors in your success are beyond your control? Does the artisanal mouthwash purveyor next door drive most of your traffic? How will you make up for that at the new place?
3. FUNDS FIREWALL. “Never,” implores entrepreneur.com, “count on your existing location for any funding; consider the new location a separate venture.”
4. ANOTHER WAY? There are other ways to expand. Before you take the plunge, have you thought about a revamped online presence, for example?
5. CALL THE A-TEAM. There’ll be ups and downs (construction, new software, procedures and schedules). Can your crew cope?
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of INVISION.
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