Connect with us

Best of the Best

Want to Find Faces to Show Off Your Business? Take a Page from This St. Louis Practice

EyeWearhaus in St. Louis MO came up with what we believe is a great example of a campaign whose clear goals and execution yielded clear rewards.

mm

Published

on

EyeWearhausSt. Louis, MO

SETTING ASIDE THE ELUSIVE alchemy that sends TV spots viral, the experts tell us the Advertising 101 textbook hasn’t changed much. Unless you luck into the meme of the week, your ad campaign is most likely to be successful if you deploy a practiced strategy to achieve one of a handful of clearly defined goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Create name recognition? Educate the market about a new product or service? Get folks to buy stuff? Get them to buy more? Showing us how it’s done is EyeWearhaus in St. Louis MO, who came up with what we believe is a great example of a campaign whose clear goals and execution yielded clear rewards. Looking for a unique way to sell its unique frames, EyeWearhaus fit a handful of eminent Missourians — people who had achieved enough to warrant emulation but who were at the same time local and “real” — with their handcrafted eyewear, took pictures, came up with a few fun taglines … and welcomed a whole new audience of curious customers into their store.

THE IDEA

Michael Harris founded EyeWearhaus 30 years ago, building on a previous 15 years of experience of the Midwest optical scene. With the new business came a new set of problems: “Having participated in management of a large optical firm, my emphasis then on frame product mix always included prominent … nationally recognized fashion names. Having hand-made and limited edition eyewear in my office now, that marketing tactic would no longer work.” But the eyewear and his reputation for great service were luring some interesting patients into his practice. He started raising the possibility of involving them in a marketing strategy. “As they are unique individuals, the concept of modeling unique eyewear many had never seen was easy to sell.”

THE EXECUTION

Harris’ first step was to get the basics sorted. “The first thought when contemplating this type of ad campaign is the ad size, where to run for maximum viewership and [determining] the budget to support this.”

The objective of the campaign was to market unique, handcrafted frames that didn’t necessarily come with famous names attached. So, it made sense to find subjects that were doing something similarly unique. Many — though not all —of the participants were tied to non-profit organizations. Harris took out full-page ads in local media featuring the subjects’ pictures with bullet points identifying them and their organization. It was deemed a win-win scenario and no payment was involved on either side. High achievers tend to know other high achievers, making recruitment easier. “Choosing eyewear was an office endeavor and all, including the participant, helped. We would, on occasion, choose a few pieces before the individual and photographer would come to the office.”

Advertisement

Coordinating photo shoots and the models’ schedules was sometimes a challenge, Harris admits, but nearly everyone who was approached agreed to participate. The subjects included Maxine Clark, founder of Build-a-Bear workshop, MamaSpace founder Jessica Manela Litwack, Cardinals radio play-by-play caller John Rooney, and a range of other figures from the CEO of the St. Louis Symphony to Miss Missouri herself.

THE REWARD

According to Harris, the campaign’s success is objectively measurable. “When patient questionnaires are completed, the source of their reason for coming in must be notated and entered into patient management software. Patients have mentioned particular ads upwards of a year or more after first being published.” The rewards are real, but they won’t necessarily appear overnight, he counsels. “As with all ad campaigns … it may take months before you realize any returns, so patience is a must.”

 

Do It Yourself: Enlisting A-List Locals For Ads

1. Shop around. Don’t just grab the first A-lister who takes your call. Are they right for your demographic? If Michelle Obama and Justin Bieber were both available; which one would your customers relate to?

Advertisement

2. Be credible. Teen-girl marketing expert Heidi Dangelmaier said her audience didn’t buy that Jennifer Love Hewitt was shopping in stores that sell Hanes. If you’re trying to unload tennis glasses, James Corden’s not your man.

3. Understand the risks. These are real-life people, not cartoon characters. Think Jared Fogle and Subway sandwiches.

4. Get yer own. Sharing a sponsor dilutes brand recognition. If the local weatherman’s already touting a store in your area, try the sports woman instead.

5. Capitalize. Ad campaigns like these get newspapers and trade mags interested. Be prepared for a call and get ready to capitalize on some free hype.

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at heath@smartworkmedia.com.

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

SPONSORED BY Essilor USA

See What Happens When Patients Try Varilux® Lenses for the First Time

Take the first step toward truly satisfying your patients.

Promoted Headlines

Best of the Best

This Office Manager Got Her Staff to ‘Own’ the Patient Experience. Here’s How…

She came up with a nine-step program for employees.

mm

Published

on

CINDY BRUNER, PRACTICE manager at Professional Family Eyecare, which has offices in Coldwater, St. Mary’s and Greenville, OH, says new employees will never add to what they already know if you don’t set expectations when they start; otherwise you set them up to fail. As she sees it, it’s her job to help them understand this. “When you have long-term employees it’s easy to become ‘Magoo’ and do and say things without realizing how they’re perceived by customers, and by … teammates.” Managers, in her view, should “help staff understand that as co-workers we are customers to each other, not just the patient.” To accomplish this, she created her own training program for implementation at the practice, “9 Steps to a Phenomenal Patient Experience.”

THE IDEA

A few years ago, Bruner came across a book titled 10 Steps to a Phenomenal Patient Experience: Customer Service Secrets for the Eye Care Team by Sharon Alamalhodaei, COMT. After getting the nod from owners Dr. Jillynn Bruner and Dr. James Dickman, she combined what she learned from this with resources picked up at a Patient’s Voice skills clinic to create a list of steps that fit the culture and patients at Professional Family Eyecare. As a final touch, Bruner incorporated the “Love Dare” concept, borrowed from the marriage counseling book of the same name based on a set of 40 daily principles. “Instead of 40 days,” she says, “I broke the steps down into nine weeks. My owners described their vision of what they want their practice to be known for and with my 25 years of hospital management training I pulled my resources together and away we went.”

THE EXECUTION

Staff and doctors were given a quiz to ascertain their perceptions of how customer service impacted business. Then she handed out a “Commitment to the Practice Standards Accountability” form. Staff were asked to return this with statements explaining how they would contribute to the standards outlined on the form.

According to Bruner, the nine steps are: 1. Who’s the Boss? 2. Give Patients more Than They Expect . . . Respect 3. Handle Difficult Patients & Situations with Finesse 4. Be Ultra Aware of Time 5. Be Extremely Knowledgeable and Professional 6. Use Amazing Phone Skills 7. Be ‘On’ Stage 8. Listen to and Learn from Patient Feedback 9. Work as a Team!

Every Monday for nine weeks, staff were sent the steps in an email and at the end of each they signed an agreement to “uphold/own” the Phenomenal Patient Experience. Later, staff were given an “Own Each Patient’s Experience” accountability form and given seven days to document examples they utilized from the nine steps. Their Team Lead had to sign off.

Advertisement

Getting staff to cooperate with something new is “always an eye roll” Bruner says, but it soon became part of the work process.

THE REWARDS

Implementing the plan was “most definitely worth it” Bruner says. “I was told by a wise doctor that if you take care of your patients, they will take care of you. This is true; if you give the patients a phenomenal experience, they will return and … share their experience with others.” The result is new and returning customers, which helps financially but also “sets our expectations of how we want our customers treated.”

Bruner urges managers to spend time with staff and let them know it is their job to “own each patient’s experience.” This “builds satisfaction, loyalty and referrals by creating a positive patient relationship. Staff learn to listen before responding,” she says. “That’s what patients truly want — to be heard and understood.”

Do It Yourself: Implement a customer experience training program

  • RECRUIT THE DOCS. Employees may be reluctant at first; having the doctors participate helped her staff buy in, Bruner says.
  • INTEGRATE. “We have monthly staff meetings and there is always a customer service topic following the program implementation,” she says.
  • TWO-WAY STREET. As a manager, be open to whatever new ideas, behaviors and skills suggest themselves as a result of the program.
  • KEEP IT UP. Bruner feels such programs are most useful when done once a year with staff.
  • UP FRONT. Bruner has all new hires participate in the program immediately and lets them know that this is part of the “behavior” portion of their 90-day evaluation.

Continue Reading

Best of the Best

This California Lens Lab Has an Inspiring Recovery Story

They were burned to the ground in last year’s wildfires. Six months later, they’re thriving.

mm

Published

on

SOMETIMES, THE THINGS that make you the best of the best are born of tragic necessity. On Nov. 8, 2018, the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in a century, raged through the Northern California town of Paradise, destroying it entirely. Eighty-six people died in the blaze, which destroyed more than 18,000 structures. Among them was Paradise Lens Lab, which the day before had just celebrated its seventh anniversary.

THE FIRE

“I was headed to work a little before 7am,” recalls owner Gary Bates of that day. “It was a clear day but off to the side, where the sun was coming up over the hill I could see either clouds or smoke around the sun.” After about an hour at work, Bates headed to a lookout point 200 yards away. “The flames … were racing up the hill towards the back of the lab.”

A brief discussion about what they might be able to save was soon abandoned. “The Fire Department was telling people it was time to run.” There were five staff including Bates working that day; all got out, but all lost their homes. A few days later it was confirmed that the building and all its equipment was lost.

The rebuilt Paradise Lens Lab in Chico, CA. ‘It took us about three weeks to get our first edger and start the buildout,’ says owner Gary Bates.

THE REBUILD

That weekend, Bates and wife Tammy’s first thought was to move to Oregon. “But we just decided we had too many people relying on us. We had to give it a shot. That day we were out looking for commercial real estate” in Chico, CA, 15 miles west of Paradise.

Already reeling from the loss of his business, a second shock followed: “I thought I was insured fully, you know, rookie business owner.” Bates’ insurer informed him that on the $400,000 worth of equipment and stock he’d lost, he was covered for just $3,500. Help was at hand, however. Prior to opening Paradise Lens Lab, Bates, who’s been in the optical industry since 1989, had worked at Coburn Technologies. He was able to marshal some contacts there to get some edgers delivered within a matter of weeks. Later, Satisloh came through with a donation of brand new digital equipment. And a group of local doctors he does a lot of work for gave Bates $50,000 to help him start back up. “The generosity and kindness was amazing right after the fire,” he says. Most importantly, Bates’ customer base came through, pledging to stay with him.

Not everyone was so helpful, though. According to Bates, one major industry player “actually tried to poach my business. They went into all my shops, and promised them all this awesome pricing to ‘help them out.’”

Thankfully, things moved fast. “It took us about three weeks to get our first edger and start the buildout.” He was able to take some customers back almost immediately, though some were asked to be a little patient, as he didn’t want to underserve anyone. “Within a month and a half we were able to get them all back and provide excellent service for them all.”

THE POSITIVES

Many in this situation would see it as an insurmountable setback. But the Bateses have been rewarded for their determination. He says that whereas before Paradise Lens relied on conventional surfacing, with the new equipment, they can now process digital freeform lenses. Amazingly, business is actually up about 32 percent from before the fire. “We’ve gotten more customers; people have reached out to us wanting to give us their business.” And while they still live in their travel trailer, because of a post-fire housing shortage, they’re philosophical. “At least we have a travel trailer,” Bates says.

The rebuild at Paradise is now fully finished. “We’ve been complete for about three months now. It took us just a little over three months to build out and get all the equipment, get everybody trained and up to date,” he says.

PHOTO GALLERY (13 Images)

Continue Reading

Best of the Best

Let This Texas OD Tell You About a Way to Serve Underprivileged Patients in Your Area

Helping kids see has never been easier.

mm

Published

on

IT’S A SIMPLE, sad fact that in this country millions of children are dependent on charitable organizations, and the doctors who work with them, for their vision exams and eyewear. On the local level, many practices encounter community members in need, and even if the ODs are willing to donate their time, providing the hardware — like frames, lenses and finishing —is a hurdle that is hard to overcome. Luckily, there are resources to tackle just this problem, and doctors making the most of them, like Dr. Jerry Gundersheimer, owner of Eye-Do Optical in Sherman, TX.

THE IDEA

Gundersheimer has been a member of the Sherman Noon Lions Club for 25 years, and has been providing free eye exams and eyeglasses to needy schoolchildren in Grayson County, Texas for the vast majority of that time. His optical manager, Albert Yougas, got wind of the Changing Life Through Lenses Program from the non-profit Essilor Vision Foundation (EVF) via Eye Do’s Essilor rep (you don’t have to be an Essilor customer to join the program; see below). This created an opportunity for the club to save the expense of the lenses, frames and lens finishing, the cost of which is now picked up by EVF. They have been doing so for at least six months now.

THE EXECUTION

The partnership has been highly successful, according to Gundersheimer, who has seen about a hundred kids or so since it began. With its help, he has also been seeing adults on behalf of the Sherman Evening Lions Club. “The Essilor Vision Foundation has been a dream come true for us. They are so easy to work with. The lenses they provide are of superior optical quality, too.”
According to Gundersheimer, Essilor will walk you through the steps it takes to send the glasses in for Rx-ing. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says.
EVF also has programs for optician-owned boutiques, including See Kids Soar, an in-office donation campaign that gives optical staff the tools they need to raise funds for underprivileged kids who are going without eyecare.

THE REWARDS

“As optometrists,” says Gundersheimer, “we took an oath to make certain that no individual in our community lacked for proper vision care.” The Changing Life Through Lenses program, he says, “helps each of us to fulfill that portion of our oath.” He adds that it has created goodwill for his practice throughout his community via word-of-mouth, and the satisfaction that comes from serving those we live with who can’t otherwise afford their vision care needs.
Gundersheimer says there may be financial benefits in the form of others hearing about his benevolence, and thus widening his paying patient base, “But truthfully, if this is the motivation for entering into this particular public domain, you are doing it for the wrong reason! The benefits are more emotional, and that is far more rewarding, in my opinion.
“We will continue to avail ourselves of this relationship as long as the Essilor Vision Foundation will continue to provide this amazing program.”

Do It Yourself: Partner with Essilor Vision Foundation

  • CALL YOUR REP. “My advice to anyone who wishes to utilize this program,” says Gundersheimer, “is to contact your Essilor rep and see how easy it would be to help those very deserving individuals out.”
  • NO REP? NO PROB. You don’t have to be an Essilor customer to participate. Create an account here: changinglifethroughlenses.org
  • NOT AN OD? Essilor Vision Foundation’s See Kids Soar program can help your optical retail biz raise funds for kids who can’t afford vision care: evfusa.org/get-involved/see-kids-soar-enrollment
  • TESTIMONIAL. Watch Dr. Gundersheimer discuss his experience with the program here: invisionmag.com/051901
  • SMALL PRINT. EVF will ask you to sign an agreement; among the requirements are an NPI or license number. Patients must be at, or below, the poverty level and without insurance to qualify.

Continue Reading

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Subscribe


BULLETINS

Get the most important news and business ideas for eyecare professionals every weekday from INVISION.

Instagram

Most Popular