By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
Jan. 16, 2019
Repeat business is a core principle in the fiscal health of any eyecare practice. It is easier to do business with current patients than to design marketing strategies to find new patients. We recently had an experience where we saw a company that had a strong, well-developed training program geared toward increasing repeat business.
We went to a resort in the Dominican Republic. At these resorts, they have perfected using sales techniques geared toward creating repeat business. My wife (Dr. Burns) dislikes these sales presentations. I love them. I love to see if in 45 minutes I can figure out what sales technique they are using and learn from them.
Here are three of the techniques that were used and how they can be modified for use in our eyecare practices.
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The resort staff was well trained to smile and interact positively with the resort guests at every encounter. There is a difference between a genuine smile and one that is forced. Most people can tell the difference. There are at least four ways our staff can greet patients: (1) genuine smile and true desire to help, (2) a forced smile and a willingness to help, (3) a forced smile and indifference to helping, (4) no smile and clear attitude that the patient is interrupting the staff member. We all can learn from the resort staff training.
At the resort, every sales encounter began with a warm greeting, and then we were immediately offered something – sometimes it was as simple as a bottle of water, sometimes it was something to eat, sometimes it was an activity (e.g.: gift certificate to the spa), but it was always something. The idea behind this is if you are given a gift, then it creates an attitude that you want to respond and give them something too.
In our offices, giving (or at least offering) a bottle of water to the patient upon arrival is an easy way for us to set the correct tone for their visit. We sometimes see a staff member mishandle this opportunity when the offer of a bottle of water is given with indifference.
Read this next sentence in a disinterested voice. “Here’s a bottle of water.” Now read this next sentence in the most positive, up-tone, welcoming voice you have. “Welcome to our office, we are so happy to help you today, would you like a bottle of chilled water?” Both voices offer a bottle of water, which one makes you feel welcomed?
MULTIPLE PEOPLE WITH THE SAME GOAL
We first interacted with a gentleman whose mission was to gather demographic information. Listening carefully to his presentation, his job was really setting up the encounter, he did this by giving us information about other properties the resort owned and how they were each a little different.
He was followed by the primary person who tried to get us to purchase a return visit to any of the resort properties. When we didn’t buy, he brought in a person he called “Quality Control to make sure he had done his job properly.” The Quality Control person offered us a different opportunity to see if we would buy that.
Three people all tasked with trying to get us to purchase. They each approached us in slightly different ways, but they all had the same goal.
Think about how we can apply this in our practices. While our presentations are not done to sell unnecessary products to our patients, all of us should want the best for the patient. We should all be commonly focused on how we can use our position in the practice to help patients get the care that will improve their quality of life.
So, from a practical standpoint, does the receptionist set up CareCredit as a way to make it easy for the patient to pay – to easily finance anything purchased today? Does the pre-tester review the patient’s history and eyewear and set up what can happen in the exam room (e.g.: “I notice you don’t have prescription sunwear to protect your eyes, I’m going to make a note for the doctor to talk to you about that.”)
Does the doctor prescribe in the exam room? Does the optician know how to help the patient get what they need and not let finances interfere (have they been taught closing techniques)? Does the optician take the patient back to the doctor for their dilation and share if the patient has changed their mind so there is one more opportunity for the doctor to talk to the patient? (What if the treatment plan included drops for glaucoma, and the patient chooses not to go forward?)
The bottom line for this approach is how do we, as a team, pass the baton within the office to best help patients get the care they need whether it is medical or optical?