By Maria Sampalis, OD
August 5, 2020
“Back to school” may mean something different than in previous years. It may mean continuing to learn from home, or it may mean young people spending half of their time at home and half in the physical classroom. Whatever the case, your young patients’ eye health and visual needs still need attention. Here is how my practice is reaching out to families to remind them of the importance of keeping their child’s annual eye exam, even in a year like this.
Families May Have Extra Money to Spend
It may be counter-intuitive, but some families may have more, rather than less, money to spend this back-to-school season. Whether or not the extra $600 per month unemployment benefit continues, it is likely there will be some form of financial help for families impacted by the pandemic. In addition to whatever government assistance may come, many families are saving money that they ordinarily would have spent on childcare. Many parents at home with offices closed means they do not need to spend money on a caregiver for their child. These potential extra sources of money create opportunities to serve patient needs and grow your practice’s revenues.
Blue-Light Filtering & Anti-Fog Glasses
Young people are spending even more time than in previous years on their mobile devices and computers. That means more digital eye fatigue and more potential damage from harmful blue light. In the marketing I do to families, I am emphasizing the benefits of computer glasses. Patients are eager to both protect children’s eyes, as well as help accelerate their academic performance. Products that keep young eyes comfortable while doing school work can enable higher-quality study time, and any product that could potentially avert damage to children’s eyes is going to be deemed essential by many parents.
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I foresee myself writing many prescriptions over the next couple of months for products like Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia and Eyezen spectacle lenses. I anticipate the addition of these lenses to glasses to equal as much as an extra $50 per eyewear sale. If I sell 50 pairs of glasses a week with one of these specialty lenses, that would equal an extra $2,500 per week, and an extra $10,000 per month.
With children, like the rest of us, required to wear masks, especially if they return to in-person classroom settings, fogged-up glasses will be a problem. Rather than wait for parents to discover that their child is having the same problem they have noticed themselves when wearing a mask, we can get ahead of the need. We can proactively market the new anti-fog glasses on the market. Products like Essilor’s Optifog lenses will be highly valued by both young people and adults, as will Shamir’s new lens, Glacier Anti-Fog.
Editors’ note: If your patient, while wearing a mask, is fogging the lenses in your phoropter, the addition of surgical tape across the top of the mask helps reduce this problem.
Eye Health Continues to Be Important Regardless of Pandemic
Many things have been altered by the current crisis, but I remind parents that eye health needs, both their own their child’s, don’t take a break just because we are all distracted at the moment.
I am finding value in marketing eye health messages that note the importance of screening children for issues like amblyopia, and ensuring there is no eye-health or visual reason that the child will be limited in their learning.
I also am noting the benefits of single-use contact lenses that can be thrown out at the end of each day, ensuring that children and teens have a guaranteed clean and sterile lens every morning. The safety message tied to single-use contact lenses has always been powerful, but never more than now when we are inundated with messaging about the importance of cleanliness.
Boost Posts to Facebook, Google Ads & E-Blasts to Get Word Out
Using geo-location technology through Facebook, I am able to send a paid, or “Boost” post to people within 30 miles of my practice. This marketing costs me $50 for five days of my post appearing in the Facebook news feeds of people who fit my requested location parameters. The last such Boost Facebook post I invested in resulted in three new patients, representing $1,200 altogether in additional revenue.
I also have invested in Google Ads in which you only pay according to the number of clicks the ad gets. The charge is around $1 a click. This typically adds up to around $20 for me. If the ad is hardly clicked on, your expense would also be limited. The Google Ad I currently have up has generated seven new patients so far.
Another benefit of Google Ads is your practice is given a phone number specific to the Google Ad for patients to use when making an appointment. That means you know exactly, not just how many clicked on the ad, but how many of those clicks resulted in a patient calling your office.
Along with online advertising, I will be continuing to reach out to patients two times per month with e-mails promoting our services, including all that we can do to ensure a year as challenging as this one doesn’t interfere with the ability of children to continue to successfully learn and grow.
Maria Sampalis, OD, practices at Sampalis Eye Care in Warwick RI. She is also the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook. Dr. Sampalis is also founder of the new job site corporateoptometrycareers.com and www.corporateoptometry.com. She is available for practice management consulting. To contact: email@example.com