Office Environment

‘Spark’ Practice Growth with an Office Makeover

Small Changes Can Make a Huge Impact

View VSP’s GlobalSM Spark makeover webisodes

When it comes to practice growth, we all know that we must make changes, but it takes a little spark to make big changes happen. Providing that catalyst is just what VSP Global has done with VSP GlobalSpark, a new online optometric practice makeover program designed to ignite the success and continued growth of private practices.

$5,000 and One Weekend of Elbow Grease

Steve Baker

The premise of VSP Global Spark is that making over a practice requires neither vast amounts of money nor time. Even modest and inexpensive fixes can jumpstart the process and provide positive results.

Ample proof of that hypothesis is found at Sacramento Vision Center, which served as a test practice for the program. In early 2010, a VSP Global Spark team, which included designers and a camera crew, made over the practice in just 72 hours with a budget of $5,000. The doctors in this three-OD practice were sent away for the weekend, but, along with a web-wide audience, they can view the progress in a five-part series of highly entertaining, three-minute webisodes. Serving as enthusiastic host of the series is Steve Baker, president of Eyefinity®/OfficeMate®. Webisodes are added to every two weeks.
The impact for the practice was immediate:

  • For second quarter 2010, the practice reported an eight percent increase in sales of anti-reflective (AR) coatings, compared to second quarter 2009, and within the first three weeks after the makeover was completed, the doctors reported an increase in their patient capture rate from 76 percent to 83 percent.

  • Patients also began using the online appointment scheduling feature on the updated web site within days of the makeover being completed.

  • The practice also reported that patients were showing great response to the new look, with one patient saying that she felt as if she were shopping in a boutique.

The Webisodes: A Design Drama Unfolds

#1–Meet the Doctors
In Meet the Doctors, Steve Baker asks practice owner Gary Yamada, OD, of Sacramento Vision Center, how he’d like to update the practice for the two associates who will take over when he retires: his daughter, Jill M. Yamada, OD, and Matthew Nishio, OD.

(l-r) Dr. Gary Yamada,
Dr. Matthew Nishio
and Dr. Jill Yamada

The younger optometrists say they’d like the office to look more inviting and that the web site needs updating, too. VSP Global brings its companies, Eyefinity/OfficeMate, Marchon®, VSP Optics Group, and Eye Designs into the picture, adding expertise in computerization, training and merchandizing. The doctors hand over the keys, and the VSP Global Spark team moves in.

#2–What a Little Color Can Do
In What a Little Color Can Do, viewers learn that for the cost of a few gallons of paint the office gets a totally new look. Conventional off-white walls are painted with a burnt orange, and the reception area goes from typical to homey and inviting.

#3–We’ve Been Framed
In We’ve Been Framed, the dispensary is enhanced with the installation of displays from Eye Designs, a broader collection of high-end frames and smarter merchandizing ideas from the Marchon representatives.

#4–The Big Reveal
In The Big Reveal the doctors return on Monday morning to a more attractive office space that will encourage browsing, increase profitability and improve the patient experience. The web site has been redesigned, as well.

#5 “Moving On Up”
Moving On Up, the final webisode, details what improvements the practice can make next. The ROI on this $5,000 investment won’t take long: upgraded frame sales, online appointment features on the web site and more word-of-mouth referrals will boost the bottom line quickly. The VSP Global Spark team shows the practice a 3D rendering of what the space could look like when they’re ready to take the practice the next level.

and after.

The Motivation: Do It Now!
It’s a classic: Homeowners spruce up their house in order to sell it–then find that they wish they had improved their home’s appeal years earlier so they could have enjoyed it more. It’s the same way with doctors, says host Baker. It seems like the motivation to upgrade the practice often is connected with the plan to attract a buyer. “The whole theme is that these changes are within reach for the doctor,” says Baker. “The point is not to ignore these simple practice enhancements.”

One question Baker asks doctors when he travels around the country: “When is the last time you walked in through your front door?” Most doctors enter their practices through a side door or private entrance. In fact, many rarely enter their reception areas. “They don’t see if the weeds by the front walk are overgrown or if the carpet is stained carpet or if the magazines in the reception area are old. I hope this program encourages them to look at how their practice feels and acts from the patients’ perspective.”

Using the tools and ideas from these shows, doctors can take steps to do it now and to do it themselves. “With minimal investments, an owner can make an appreciable difference over the course of one weekend,” says Baker. Just as VSP Global brought its network of family companies together, doctors can use their networks of suppliers, such as their Marchon representatives, to gather ideas specific to their practices.

Baker says he enjoyed hosting the show – a diversion from his usual corporate role, but one that suits his gregarious personality well. In fact, during the filming, patients or customers stopped by the office, not knowing that a remodel was in the works. Baker would walk these visitors through the mayhem. “They were blown away and couldn’t wait to come back to the office,” he says. “The exam lanes should feel like a medical practice, but the optical dispensary should feel like a pleasant shopping experience. These patients were ready to come back and shop.”

Makeover Team: the Players

  • Eyefinity/OfficeMate updated the practice’s web site, utilizing their eWeb ExtraSM solution to customize the web site and add online appointment scheduling capability, resulting in increased convenience and efficiency for both patients and the practice.

  • Marchon® Eyewear provided training to the staff and brought in more premium optical and sunwear, including Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld eyewear collections.

  • The VSP Optics Group delivered training to Dr. Yamada’s staff on sales strategies for anti-reflective (AR) coatings. This has resulted in an eight percent increase in AR sales for second quarter 2010 over the same time last year.

  • Eye Designs outfitted the practice with new paint and furniture, bringing a warmer, more inviting experience to patients, and an enhanced dispensary with new merchandising displays.

Coming Soon: Tools to Track Growth
In addition to the webisodes, the web site will include tools and tutorials to help practitioners to conduct their own office makeovers and to track the positive results that come from it.

The tools on the web site will help the practice owner and staff look at a business differently, says host Baker. “We’ll include several key business indicators that reflect the health of the business. Too often, doctors gauge their success by the smile on their patients’ faces. That’s nice, but it doesn’t tell you your capture rate, cost of goods, turn on the frame board or how much premium product you’re selling,” he says. The supplemental tools will help doctors measure those and other key indicators.

Check the Web site in the coming weeks to view the educational tools and resources.

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