Office Environment

2 Office Upgrades that Boosted Optical Sales 15% & Increased New Appointments

Seating in the new coffee bar and lounge area, which Dr. Marshall created in her office. She says that the artwork on the wall by local artists, and the displays showing the recognition her practice has received, spurs optical sales and return visits.

By Jessica Marshall, OD

June 8, 2022

Changes to your office can be good for both patients and your profitability. Here are a couple changes that greatly improved our patients’ time in our office while spurring optical sales and the booking of new appointments.

Coffee Bar & Lounge
My goal is always to stand out from the many other offices near us that are available to people looking for an eye doctor. We recently moved to a new location, and we wanted to create an area in the new office that would let patients learn about who we are. We also wanted to use this area to create a tie to the local community.

I use this new part of the office to display work from local artists, office awards and photos of local community outreach projects we participated in. The local artists’ work is on loan with the cost varying by artist. I ask each artist what they think is fair payment. The ones I currently have on display didn’t want money. They were happy for the chance to display their work and biographical information. I found the artists through a local arts council. We allow them to include a short paragraph about the work and a website for anyone interested in purchasing.

To create our coffee bar and lounge, we cleared out an eyeglass display case, and we are in the process of having the electrical system rewired to add an outlet for the coffee maker, water cooler and refrigerator. We also purchased wallpaper from Farrow and Ball, and picked up new chairs and a coffee table.

We offer refreshments as soon as patients come in to create a welcoming first impression. This seems to relax patients and put them in a good mood. If we’re falling behind, we can now direct patients to our coffee bar and lounge. Patients can both browse eyewear and look at the artwork we have on display as they wait for their appointment to begin. There’s never push-back about wait times when you offer a refreshment, and suggest that the patient check out the art. Inevitably they look at frames, too, so this wait time can also support a sale. And if your staff can create a rapport with the patient, chatting with them as they browse, you have a much better shot at capturing the sale.

I found that after patients have accepted refreshments and have a greater understanding of who we are and what we do by seeing our community awards on the wall, and the work of local artists, they are more likely to buy from us. Many seem to want to buy from a practice that supports local businesses and is tied closely to the community.

The total cost for this project will be about $3,000, which includes the cost for the refrigerator, electrician fees, wallpaper and labor, coffee table and new chairs.

ROI: We have seen our optical sales increase 15 percent and our capture rate increase 10 percent since the creation of our coffee bar and lounge. I know people buy when they feel good, and this area absolutely makes people feel good.

Small Framed Signs & One Large Sign With All Our Services Listed
I work hard to create a “best-in-class” exam and buying experience. Many of my new patients are used to quick refractions. For that reason, I like to make sure people feel and understand what’s different about my office. I created small signs that educate patients, before they even get in my exam chair, about all the things a thorough eye exam can do. I want patients to know they don’t need to see an ophthalmologist for most medical eyecare. I also created a large sign in our optical that lists all of our services in one place.

Signage that alerts patients to all the practice does has been a great help in increasing appointments, says Dr. Marshall.

I believe there is a huge segment of our society focused on disease prevention. I want my patients to understand that I’m a part of that prevention process. In fact, one of our office mantras, which we repeat to staff and patients is “preserving vision through technology.”

We placed the sign in our optical between two frame displays. There is high visibility in that area. People looking at frames can’t help but notice it. It’s also across from our seating area, so patients’ eyes are drawn to it. Many patients tell me they didn’t realize that eye doctors were involved in so many aspects of healthcare.

I created this signage for no more than around $100. I typed up and printed out all the aspects of eyecare that I wanted to highlight, and placed the print-outs in picture frames. I researched and found that Etsy, EyeDesigns and OMG! all are known to make great signage. I’ll likely upgrade to digital or professional signage in the near future.

ROI: I see about 20 patients per day. I estimate that around 70 percent of patients in the exam room ask me about something they saw on the sign. Not all require or get more testing as a result, but they are learning about how much more I do beyond eyeglasses and contact lenses.

We have weekly staff training/meetings in which we talk about how this new signage and all other upgrades we make to our office, like our coffee bar and lounge, are to let people know who we are and what we do, and that we can be trusted.

We want patients to understand us enough to feel confident coming to us for care, purchasing from us and referring many others.

Jessica Marshall, OD, is the owner of Marshall EyeCare in Aberdeen, N.J. To contact her: jessmarshall12@gmail.com 

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