By Maria Higgins, OD
March 27, 2019
Your practice culture influences the patients you attract to your office. It also guides the service those patients experience. Here are key actions you can take to establish the culture you envision.
I took these steps in my former practice, Unique Optique in Frederick, Md. I sold the practice a couple years ago, and now own a marketing consultancy company, The Unique Technique. I help other small businesses achieve success, by creating and implementing creative marketing campaigns. Before we begin the marketing planning, I always have clients define their practice culture.
Make a Culture Statement
If you want a certain culture, you need to define it.
How do you do it? Brainstorm with staff, and write it down.
Cost: The time you and your staff devote to discussing your culture statement, and putting it into words.
Example: Click HERE or the image to the left to download the culture statement from Unique Optique, which hung on one of our walls, so that patients saw it as soon as they walked in the door.
Here is what I have my clients work through to develop their own culture statement:
Values represent the core priorities in the business’s culture, including who you are today and what drives members’ actions.
1. Establish four-to-eight core values from which your organization would like to operate. Consider values of customers (1-2), team (1-2), business (1-2), and the owner (1-2). Combine any overlapping values.
2. In all cases, be authentic. Make sure your values are a reflection of your brand.
3. Expand on each value and how it relates to the business personality.
4. Take note of any differences between the organization’s strived-for values and its current values (the values actually reflected by the practice owner’s and employees’ behaviors). Take action to align actual behaviors with preferred behaviors.
Be Authentic, Live Out Your Practice Culture’s Values
Learn how to walk the walk and talk the talk.
Other Articiles to Explore
How do you do it? Be consistent in your message. If you are a business that touts sustainability, do not have plastic bottles of water for patients, staff or self. If you own a makeup store, you do your makeup every day. Apple store employees never pull out an Android.
Cost: The time and money it takes to do what you need to do to be true to your practice’s values. That might mean spending time and money to find environmentally friendly furnishings and supplies. It might mean investing in an additional employee to provide the kind of patient experience that your culture promises. Or it could mean re-training the employees you have to do what your patients expect, such as personalized service in the optical.
Have a person who knows you well go through your practice as a patient to try to spot inconsistencies between what you say you want patients to experience, and what the reality is.
Example: Unique Optique was a supporter of the Gay Pride festival in our city, had many LGBTQ patients, and ran this ad in local media:
Support other businesses that support your culture
Support other businesses in your community that cater to the same people and offer a similar vision. This will make it easier for people to understand your business’s perspective, and what they will experience in your office.
How do you do it? Be mindful of what you believe, and support others who have similar beliefs.
Cost: The cost includes the time to participate in events and to craft social media posts supportive of other local businesses. You could take it further, and sponsor of an event involving other similar local businesses.
It surprised me that other small business owners in downtown Frederick would have parties and get their food from Costco. Unique Optique always made a point of getting our food and wine from our downtown neighbors. Wine came from Viniferous three blocks away. Food for one party came from Pretzel Pizza Creations, which was also located in our town. Balloons came from a patient who was a balloon artist:
The practice of a culture is the basis for everything else. Make sure you give it some thought, and then embrace what makes you YOU.”