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Positive Reception




I’m old enough to recall my mother struggling to find room in an overflowing ashtray to stub out her cigarette as the dental assistant arrived to usher us in to the dentist’s office. I also remember that visit not going well, and my mother muttering something about how she should have stuck with the last guy. Whether the issue was the ashtray or the service I don’t recall. The distinction doesn’t actually matter: According to the Patientpop blog, a 2009 survey conducted at outpatient clinics in New York City found a direct positive correlation between aesthetically appealing waiting rooms and patient opinions about doctors’ visits.

We’re confident that overstuffed ashtrays are not a concern in your optical in 2018, but if you feel your waiting area could use a lift to add to your patients’ overall experience, we’ve rounded up eight things to keep in mind, gleaned from the “experts” and the real experts — our loyal Brain Squad members.

5 Poking around the waiting area at Uber Optics in Petaluma, CA, you’ll find Red Vines, beer, wine, sparkling water and more. “We have a ton of red and white wine that we bust out about 3pm,” says owner Nancy Revis. “Lagunitas Brewery is a couple miles from the shop and we have a ton of customers that work there and bring us beer. We have a Keurig and half and half in the fridge.” (Which reminds us: Waiting areas make fertile ground for cross-promotional activities.) Never to be outdone in this area, Dr. Cynthia Sayers at EyeShop Optical in Columbus, OH, has a full coffee bar and home-baked treats on Dessert Friday. “We always have a good array of coffees with flavored creamers and water for our patients. It is a place for families to hang out if everyone is not scheduled.”


Displaying the work of local talent creates a community feel. Jennifer Leuzzi at Mill Creek Optical in Dansville, NY, added a kiosk of jewelry made by local artists. “We also had the ceiling painted by a local girl inspired by a shop I visited in Germany. She hid a few things in it so we ask people to look closely.” At Uber Optics, Nancy Revis got the family involved: The art was done by her father-in-law, Johan Revis.

5 Think about the customers you see most. Are you in an office park or near a school? Have you thought about a niche for laptop-touting professionals or a kids’ corner? Do you want people waiting throughout the store (with, as Dr. Scott Keating at Vision Trends in Dover, OH, puts it, “the optical smack in their face”), or in a comfortable, discrete area? A good rule of thumb we picked up from Revis at Uber Optics: If you’re comfortable there, your customers will be too. It’s important her shop feels like home, because, “I live there. It is my second home. I want them to come in and feel comfortable too.” Also, remember that the waiting area isn’t all about the customer. “It’s more an area for the person that isn’t shopping; the one there for support,” she observes.


5 On this one, you’re probably better off going in one of two directions: Sheer comfort with a home-like feel, or an eye-pleasing consistency with the rest of your space to support branding. This way you’ll be enhancing a sense of professionalism, keeping your patients comfortable, or both. What you don’t want is an ugly middle ground – used office furniture that inspires neither comfort nor confidence. Furnishings play a big part in making your waiting area distinctive; Brain Squad members mentioned everything from sofas and bean bags to futons and repurposed church pews.

5 You know your clientele better than any big box could ever hope to. Successful waiting areas reflect this relationship. One of the most outstanding examples we’ve seen is Buena Vista Optical in Chicago, IL. “We cater to Hispanic Familias (I am Latina, so I can talk about the elephant in the room),” says co-owner Diana Cantos-Sims. “We have two waiting rooms. We may have one patient on the schedule but if she is getting contact lenses, she brought her siblings, cousins and grandma. Catering to Hispanic families, we learned that they go to doctor appointments with their entire family and this is a great opportunity to educate them all and have them make appointments for everyone.”

KIDS (Big & Small)
5 Don’t pretend they’ll sit and be good. “Color therapy!” says Heather Harrington at Elevated Eyecare in Denver, CO. “We have coloring pages for all ages.” Our personal favorite? Etch-a-Sketches. “Our patients cut if they find themselves in the reception area longer than a few minutes,” says Leah Johnson at Central Texas Eye Center in San Marcos, TX. “But they can go back to childhood with our Etch-a-Sketches. Super fun and unexpected.”

5 Beyond Wi-Fi, are you charger friendly? Tablets with access to healthcare information and self check-in kiosks are growing more popular. Educational videos are encouraged, but don’t overdo it: A study by Gary A. Nyberg and Christine Guzzo Vickery, found only 41 percent of respondents want to watch TV in a waiting room. The top activities were reading (95 percent) and using mobile phones (57 percent).

5 Dr. Ted McElroy of Vision Source Tifton, in Tifton, GA, thinks it’s best to minimize the wait. “We have clocks attached to the clipboards with each guest’s information. We set the timer for 17 minutes. If it goes off, they’re given a complementary Optomap. We apologize and tell them we’re ‘buying your pictures for your wait.’”




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