It’s now October. With Halloween only a few weeks away, costume stores are in the middle of their busy season—but will soon be having final clearance sales. For 60 days, business is brisk, then it disappears. The same goes for ice cream shops, which usually take their winter hiatus around November, only to reopen in April. And for the skiers, resorts are just starting to take reservations but they too will close their doors come March. Chimney sweeps are busy just before the winter, roofers in the summer—both professions hoping they can live off their earnings for the rest of the year.
What do all of these situations have in common? They are cyclical seasonal businesses and, for the most part, survive on the “make hay while the sun shines” principle. However, not all businesses are dependent on this premise.
Take landscapers. During the summer, our landscapers cut lawns, trim shrubs and, more often than not, work seven days a week. In the winter, they adapt and plow driveways. But what if there isn’t much snow? Can they stay busy by cutting and delivering firewood, doing interior clean outs (like basements) and pressure-washing houses?
Who would hire landscapers to clean out their basement? Perhaps it is the same person who hired them to mow their backyard—because the landscaper might have previously mentioned that he also has other trade expertise.
A Multi-Tasking Tip
The lesson here is simple. As eye care practitioners, we have a lot of patients who wear contact lenses. Therefore, we should model our business practice after the landscaper and consider what other expertise we can offer our patients. Remember that we have already established a working relationship with our patients, and they come to us for our services and presumably leave pleased with the results. It is markedly easier, faster, less expensive (and therefore, more profitable) to build on this relationship and get that patient to purchase additional products and services from your practice, than it is to establish an entirely new relationship with another prospective patient.
Other practitioners are already doing this. For example, a dentist will fill cavities one day and whiten the teeth of the same patient another day. LASIK surgeons may double their value by providing additional services such as Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan) to their post-op patients. Using the same principle as the landscaper, they are capitalizing on a pre-established bond between “the buyer and the seller.”
For the Contact Lens Fitter
We have many services that we can offer our contact lens patients. Let’s start with other contact lenses. If your patients aren’t currently wearing daily disposable lenses as their mainstay lenses, you can suggest them as an adjunct for special occasions, sports, travel, etc. Similarly, patients who wear clear lenses can be introduced to the rainbow of colors and designs currently available. We can tell our monovision and multifocal patients about other alternatives that may be convenient for different situations.
Finally, don’t forget to mention eyeglasses. It is actually amazing how poorly eye care practitioners do in this area. We should stop allowing a -5.00D contact lens patient to “make do” with a pair of -3.00D eyeglasses.
Approach this practice-building strategy from the perspective that you are going above and beyond by suggesting additional services or products to someone who already enjoys doing business with you. This also means that more contact lens patients will have the proper eyewear. And, continue thinking of additional revenue-generating opportunities: dry eye treatment, corneal reshaping, vision therapy, low vision and any other medical services you offer.
Stay busy by presenting your entire portfolio of services to all patients whenever clinically appropriate. One of the easiest ways to grow your practice is through the happy patients you already have on board. Cut their grass and plow their snow!