On July 2, 2011, Weaver Eye Care Associates will have been open six months! Whoo-hoo! And oh my, those six months have gone very quickly!
I've done various things on getting the word out about the practice. Probably the most important method is just doing my eye doctor thing and trying to provide the best customer service that I possibly can. This in turn creates a positive impression on those patients so that they hopefully tell their neighbors, friends and family.
I try to keep things current in my practice:
1) Digital visual acuity charts in the exam room = how many times have you gone to an eye doctor and tried to strain your eyes reading that faded projector screen? This should be the fun part of the exam.
2) Digital photography of the front and the back of your eyes = if there's something peculiar that should be followed, taking a picture is much better that making a drawing or writing a description. The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is definitely true. I have a digital camera adapter for my bio-microscope in the exam room and a digital camera conversion on my retinal camera in the back diagnostic testing room. There's no more guessing when it comes to checking things out a year later.
3) No paper charts = everything is going to be electronic at some point or another, it's just a matter of time. That's why I chose electronic medical records software from Practice Director for all of my documentation. I try to stay with the leading edge of things, because technology moves so darn fast, it's easy to lose one's balance and fall behind. I have computers in every room in the office: reception, business office, optical department, the exam room and the diagnostic testing room (okay, I don't have one in the bathroom, but that's self explanatory).
4) The latest styles of frames with good warranty = frame representatives visit my office on a regular basis to keep my frame inventory fresh and lively! New colors, styles and models of men's, women's and children's frames arrive from the various vendors, swapping out what's discontinued and out of warranty. This is done so that when you buy a frame from Weaver Eye Care Associates, you're buying a frame that's current, unlike buying online from vendors with shoddy materials and poor workmanship.
I also try to keep things current in my promotion:
1) Blog, blog, blog = I don't blog to the point where it's annoying and I only write when I have something to write about. I try to keep existing patients and (hopefully) soon-to-be patients informed with news about my new practice and anything related to the eye (see previous posts). I enjoy writing, and probably would have been a writer if I hadn't done the optometry thing. But at least I can get my writing fix while supporting the career that I love to do: optometry.
2) Facebook, Twitter, MySpace = MySpace not so much anymore, since most people these days are on Facebook and Twitter. I post links on Facebook and Twitter whenever I have a new blog post, or whenever there is just something exciting happening with the practice. Like when Kaylee was helping me set up the frame boards when I first opened, I posted pictures on Facebook documenting the event. Or as progress occurred with the build-out between September and December last year, I posted pictures of that as well.
3) Practice Website = Personally, I don't go to a business if they don't have a website. I just like to know about the place when I visit there or buy something from there. I thought it important to have a pretty comprehensive website to describe who I am, what I do and what I have to offer.
4) Groupon = Groupon seems to be the next best thing out there right now for small business and consumers. Groupon will be featuring my practice (with a pretty slick write-up, I may add) on Thursday June 30th...two days from now! I'll be checking the discussion boards on the Weaver Eye Care Associates feature page to answer any questions you may have about the deal. I don't want to reveal anything about the deal, but all I have to say is this: if you haven't visited the practice for an eye exam and glasses yet, I strongly suggest that you check out the feature. It will be the best deal around...for a long, long, long while!
I've promoted by traditional methods as well: newspapers ads, direct mail postcards, and yellow pages (coming later 2011, missed the cut for the 2010 book). I've also been trying to hand out my business cards like crazy and get to know as many people in the area as I can.
The practice will only get busier, so have many thanks to hand out! (Sorry, if this sounds like an award speech. At least I won't get cut off by an orchestra if I go to long...)
First, big thanks to the Man Upstairs for giving me the courage to do this and making all things possible.
A close second to the many current patients of the practice who was curious enough to check out the practice. I truly appreciate your business and thank you for your support.
Big thanks to my wife, Laura, for supporting me in taking the plunge with opening a brand new business and enduring this adventure together. Laura helped me out with the wall colors, carpeting and tiles, since I'm pretty useless when it comes to color coordination (yes, she picks out my shirt and tie combos as well). :) And Kaylee for keeping things interesting and entertaining at the practice.
Another big thanks to my parents and Laura's parents for their unending support, as well as watching Kaylee many, many times when I have meetings and work-related things to do.
Also, another thanks to the band-mates, Derek and Tim for giving me the time to get things settled. We're recording in the studio right now and if all goes well, the band will be doing shows soon afterwards once the mania settles down a bit.
Thanks to Kim, the lovely Weaver Eye Care Associates receptionist, for treating patients with respect, for staying on task during the slow times and the crazy times, and learning just as much as I am with insurances and all of that other "fun" stuff.
And many other thanks:
George H. Longenecker's and Sons = the fine craftmanship on the build-out and setting up the optical and reception furniture
EyeDesigns = designing the office space and the awesome craftmanship on the frame displays, dispensing desk and reception desk
Three Rivers Optical and Zeiss Lab Kentucky = for their excellent optical work and warranty on all of my eyeglass orders
ClearVision, Modern Optical, Europa International, Silhouette, Live Eyewear and Bushnell = for their wide array of stylish frames, sunglasses and clip-ons
Vision Systems Inc. = for all of their awesome equipment that I needed to open up shop
Practice Director = for the electronic medical records and practice management software, and their excellent customer service and technical support
PC Ninja = Mel for hooking up the network, computers, phone system, printers, security and back-up. Awesome work, man!
Wells Fargo = for the business loan capital to get things off the ground. (Although, you should be thanking me for all of the interest.)
And to anyone that I may have missed, thank you to all...and to all a goodnight!
Ps. Don't forget the Groupon...