By Mary E. Boname, OD, MS, FAAO
May 17, 2017
I’ve built my practice on the relationships I’ve forged with my patients, and those relationships span the generations. I make a concerted effort to appeal to more than just patients in my own age Generation X age group.
My solo practice caters almost solely to patients who pay out-of-pocket for my services. So, it’s especially important that I offer the kinds of products and services that each patient–regardless of their age–will value and return again to receive.
Editor’s note: click HERE to read more about how Dr. Boname has created a primarily out-of-pocket pay practice.
I have about 5,000 patients overall, with 1 percent children and teenagers, 5 percent Millennials, 10 percent Generation X and 84 percent Baby Boomers. One of my goals is to find ways to appeal more to younger patients, as I know the Millennials are a population even larger than the Boomers, and will become a much greater part of my practice in the near future.
Editor’s note: Visit census.gov to learn whether the age demographics of your practice match the changes occurring in your community.
Offer Product Selection that Spans the Generations
Greater than 75 percent of our frame board is targeted to Generation X and Baby Boomers. The remaining 15 percent is targeted to children and teens, with 10 percent devoted to products for Millennials.
Millennials are very unlike my GenXers and Baby Boomers in their interest in value and price, versus brand names. They care about convenience, and are more likely to go on Instagram and try to find the same product for less elsewhere. Hence, the need for a private label product that is only available on our practice web site and our Instagram page. In the next year, we plan to launch a private label line of frames that will be unique to us, and designed to appeal especially to Millennials.
At Montgomery Eye Care, we are the brand, and I have been cultivating that since our first day of business, December 26, 1997.
Target Marketing to Individual Generations
We market to the majority of our Gen Xers and Baby Boomers on Facebook and through targeted e-mails. We use our Instagram and Twitter accounts to market to Millennials. We also like to run a small number of print ads in local newspapers, along with sponsoring local teams and organizations.
The great thing about advertising primarily on social media, and via e-mail, is that there is little monetary cost, and the needed time outlay is low, as little as 1-3 hours of support staff, or optician, time per week, at the most.
Optimize Help from Vendors When Marketing to Generations
Blu-Tech does a nice job of having marketing materials for all generations, as does Vistakon with its contact lens pamphlets, but Silhouette is geared more toward GenXers and Baby Boomers.
Ask About the Whole Family in the Exam Room
During the patient history, I ask about parents, grandparents and siblings, including who lives nearby, if they have any history of ocular or systemic conditions, if they wear glasses or contacts, and if they have had eye surgery. I also have my office manager, or other staff members, ask if there are any other family members that need an appointment for an eye examination. I record the name and age of the patient’s children and ask about them by name each time I see the patient.
Take a Social History for Each Patient & Connect to Product Needs
I take a social history with my patients: I inquire about how they spend their time (if they are working or not): “How much time do you spend on an electronic device everyday? Do you spend time outdoors? Are you bothered by glare? Burning and itching of your eyes, headaches, losing your place when you read?”
Often the social history will lead into concerns that must be addressed with a therapeusis for dry eye (Bruder Mask, Omega 3 Supplementation, Acuicyn, Xiidra, Restasis, Nanotears, Blephadex, We Love Eyes, etc, Blu-Tech Ophthalmic lenses Rx and non-Rx), Polarize sunglasses, etc.
I show them retinal photographs and point to the optic nerve, the macula, and discuss how their activities of daily living and family history can place them at risk for a permanent change in their visual acuity. We discuss nutrition and the eyes, visual hygiene exercises and the ergonomics of their work station.
Younger patients are more enthused about Blu-Tech lenses, and the majority of my Gen X and Baby Boomer patients are refilling their prescriptions for Acuicyn in my practice, purchasing Blephadex wipes, Blink Lid Wipes, Blink Omega 3 Supplements, Bruder Masks, WE LOVE EYES, MacuHealth, and Nano-Tears.
Show Patients All the Generations of Your Own Family
I have framed pictures of my grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, parents, siblings here in the office. I have a picture of my paternal great-grandfather’s (Walter P. Boname) plumbing and heating business (50 years in business in my hometown), my paternal grandfather, Mat G. Boname, M.D., who was the town physician from July 1926-January 1996), and my paternal great uncle, Will Gibbon, who had a General Store and Bar & Grille in my hometown.