By Thuy-Lan Nguyen, OD
Create a “frames extravaganza” to generate excitement–and sales—in your optical. Tie the event to holidays and seasons for best results.
SET GOALS. Choose a sales goal for the day of the event of at least double that of your usual daily sales number.
MEASURE LIKELY COST & ROI. Can cost as much as $4,000. Can generate at least double your typical daily optical sales.
ORGANIZE VENDOR PARTICIPATION. Allow vendors to manage portions of optical for the day and request co-op dollar contribution to event.
The holidays are a busy time, but also a prime opportunity to showcase your optical’s products and services. My practice had a great success this year with our annual holiday frame event, this year called our Red Carpet Holiday Extravaganza. On a typical day, my optical can bring in from $7,000-$10,000. My red carpet trunk show brought in over $23,000.
It’s a lot of work to put together these events. I do it in part for the increased revenues, but also for my employees, who ask me if I can host special events in the optical. They enjoy such events, get into the spirit and have fun while they work. I know if my employees are happy, they will make my patients happy, too. Our staff works hard that day, but it takes them out of their usual daily routine.
Attendees of the Red Carpet Holiday Extravaganza pose with a cardboard cutout of Justin Timberlake. Dr. Nguyen says it is important to have a creative theme and name for each event, so each is perceived as fun and original.
Set Goals for Event
My goals for our Red Carpet Holiday Extravaganza is always to have a unique, exciting and fun event in my office. It is essentially an optical trunk show. But we market it as a patient appreciation day also. It is a way for me to say thank you to my loyal patients and offer them a good deal on their optical purchase. We offer 20 percent off when purchasing a complete pair of eyeglasses (frames and lenses). I want patients to purchase something, but I also want them to feel like they are attending our family holiday party.
The majority of patients who go to my events are return patients, however, we also get new patients, whom I want to become loyal, repeat patients.
Set Planning Timeline
It takes me over a month to plan the events. I coordinate vendor participation and work with my graphic designer to approve the marketing material. I am the point person for making sure the tasks are done the way I want, but everyone in the office has their part. Each of my managers is responsible for making sure that every team member knows their individual duties.
Gauge Cost and Potential ROI
It costs me about $4,000 to market holiday events. The majority of the budget goes to producing, printing and mailing out 10,000 newsletters. My goal–which I achieved this year–was to triple the amount of revenue I would do on an average day, and 10 percent above my last event.
The poster Dr. Nguyen’s sent in an e-blast to patients to advertise the Red Carpet Holiday Extravaganza. Dr. Nguyen says multi-channel promotions of special events, including in-office signage, e-mail and postal mail, is essential.
I try to pick something timely and current for my events. I’ve done a Miami DolFAN appreciation day before the start of football season. I’ve done an Olympic theme during the summer Olympics. Having a timely theme helps with the marketing and makes each event memorable. It makes my employees and patients feel like they were a part of something special. One year for our holiday party, we offered photos with Santa Claus, and this year, for the Red Carpet theme, I had photos with life-size cardboard cut-outs of celebrities like George Clooney.
Organize Vendor Participation
For the Red Carpet Holiday Extravaganza, I had Marchon reps display their entire line of frames. I allowed them to take over my optical and become the fashion experts for the day. I raffled off prizes like a Nike Fuel Band. I had platters of pastries and snacks, and offered sparkling apple cider in a champagne glass to go with the red carpet theme. I had an actual red carpet at my entrance, and encouraged patients to take pictures with the “celebrities” against a giant backdrop with my logo and the Marchon brand logos, just like at a movie premier or awards show.
I ask the vendors if they have co-op dollars to contribute to the marketing material and event itself. If they don’t have co-op dollars to contribute, then I ask for physical cooperation in the form of reps being in the office or gift bags or products to raffle off.
I start prepping my opticians and staff over a month before the event. We brainstorm about the theme, décor, food and even wardrobe for the day. As the practice owner, it is important for me to assure each department that every other department will do their jobs. We all rely on each other, and if one person isn’t prepared, it could possibly affect everyone else. But if we all work together, everyone benefits.
I send out 10,000 newsletters to current patients, and about 8,000 e-mails. I also market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But I also use my employees to market via word of mouth. That doesn’t work unless they are excited about the event themselves. I gave each of my employees 10 cards to send to their favorite patients offering a special discount if they brought the card in that day. Some of my employees asked for more than 10 cards because they have so many patients whom they love seeing. It is my way of allowing my employees to also say thank you to the patients they enjoy and want to see. It is my way of making a big event more personal.