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Marketing and Operations

Historically, the daily life of an ECP didn’t change that much, but technology and retail shifts have ended that. Strategy, marketing, differentiation ... today more time is spent looking at the big picture.

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47. Which gets the largest portion of your marketing budget?

Print
13%
Community events (including sponsorships)
12%
Direct mail
10%
Other social media marketing
8%
Paid search (PPC, Google Ads, etc.)
7%
Facebook
7%
Email marketing
7%
Radio
5%
SEO
5%
Television
2%
Billboards
2%
Other
3%
Don’t advertise
19%

 

NOTE: There’s a saying that the only way to grow in business is to innovate or advertise. We suspect the 19 percent of ECPs who said they don’t advertise are relying on word of mouth to sustain their business. Still, it appears to pay to be more active: 25 percent of the ECPs who told the Big Survey the last two years had been their worst ever also don’t advertise. That compares to just 14 percent of those who said those years had been their best ever.

48. WWhich of the following social media/business networks do you actively use on a professional basis?

Facebook
88%
Google
50%
Instagram
46%
LinkedIn
19%
Twitter
13%
YouTube
7%
Pinterest
5%
Other
5%

49. How many in-store events (incl. trunk shows) do you hold a year?

0
46%
1–2
37%
3–4
12%
5–11
3%
12 or more
2%

50. Is your marketing mostly intended to build brand awareness or prompt an immediate action from customers?

Brand building
38%
Direct response
41%
Not sure
21%

 

NOTE: ECPs are better served by advertising that makes their business top of mind when a customer needs medical help or frames, says Wizard of Ads author Roy H Williams. Sometimes a direct response campaign is needed, but be sure “to make a highly impressive offer or you’ll be…disappointed.” Using such campaigns, be sure you aren’t simply training your market to wait for the next big sale.

51. What is your Google My Business (Review) rating?

5 stars
39%
4.5 stars
32%
4 stars
9%
3.5 stars
3%
3 stars
1%
2.5 stars
0%
2 stars
0%
1.5 stars
0%
1 star
0%
Don’t have one
16%

52. How many Google Reviews does your business have?

0
12%
1-10
24%
11-20
20%
21-30
9%
31-40
9%
41-50
6%
51-75
5%
76-100
5%
101-150
4%
151-250
3%
More than 250
3%

53. The economy is in its longest expansion ever. History says it must come to a stop sooner or later. Are you doing anything now to get ready for the next downturn?

The 5 most popular answers were:

  1. Reduce/eliminate debt
  2. Save money
  3. Streamline inventory
  4. Create budget-conscious frame/lens packages
  5. Growing/strengthening patient base

Want actual specifics? These are some respondents’ standout strategies:

  • We are fine tuning the patient experience to increase patient retention in the future.
  • Increase marketing.
  • Opening a second location in a more affluent area.
  • Reducing inventory away from giant companies that expect you to buy more than you can sell.
  • Limiting hiring and paying down debt aggressively.
  • Selling the business and retiring.
  • Praying.
  • Getting expenses under control now.
  • Trying to cut debt and increase margins without affecting quality.
  • Staying debt free.
  • Putting money into savings every month and being careful about how much we spend on frames.
  • Buying less and keeping less back stock.
  • Controlling inventory and staffing.
  • Carrying a budget frame lens package.
  • Added in-house edging to manage overhead costs and offer less expensive lenses.
  • Consolidating costs, expanding customer loyalty/dependence on private label brand to capture benefits-only and prescription-only customers.
  • Staff training to improve customer service and patient experience.
  • Building the war chest to buy when others start to fail.
  • Ensuring reserve account is at a high enough level.
  • Staying open later, making fewer purchases, consolidating buying groups, looking at services (phone, internet) to see if we can trim.
  • Creating eyeglass packages to compete with online retailers based on price then we’ll blow them away with service for a similar price.
  • Taking a hard look at our demographic and reevaluating frame brands and lens offerings so we have the proper mix and are purchasing the best way.
  • Buying extra frame and lens stock at good discounts. Also, actively asking current patients for referrals.
  • Retaining 15% of net profit for the economy downturn. I have nine months of business expenses saved.
  • Preparing to sell package deals and considering a sale to private equity.
  • Moving towards a medical model.
  • All cash buying.
  • 11% of each transaction is put away for a downturn.
  • Postponing future expansion.
  • Limiting extra inventory; reducing look alike styles.
  • Voting.
  • Building a nuclear bunker and buying lots of canned food.
  • Been selling CBD products in office for two years.
  • Direct shipping eyewear to reduce cost in office.
  • Invested in private label brands and have more flexible terms with our frame lines.
  • Offer package plans starting at $29 and up; many patients already    use this.
  • Controlling inventory. We are already seeing a much slower year this year.
  • Holding more cash.
  • Not accepting vision plans! Private pay and medical care are the most reliable in depressed economies.

54. Check the features your business has:

Customer bathroom
85%
Sofa/sitting area
66%
Satellite radio
33%
Free wifi/charging station
32%
Bar/beverage area
29%
TVs used for promotional purposes
28%
Paperless patient registration
24%
Kids’ room
23%
TV for entertainment purposes
21%
Viewing window into the lab
16%
iPads for patient or display purposes
15%
Chandeliers
10%
Selfie wall
8%
Store pet
7%
Fireplace
5%
Fish tank
4%

55. How long since you last remodeled?

1 year or less
19%
2 years
14%
3-5 years
34%
6-10 years
18%
More than 10 years
15%

 

NOTE: It’s been over 6 years since one-third of our ECPs remodeled. That’s leaving it a bit long, says Lori Estrada of Fashion Optical Displays. “The rule is to remodel/refresh every 5-7 years, but only the more progressive doctors seem to do that. A remodeled dispensary typically sees an increase of (at least) 15 percent,” she says.

56. What days is your business open?

Sunday
7%
Monday
92%
Tuesday
98%
Wednesday
96%
Thursday
98%
Friday
96%
Saturday
55%

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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