By Ashley W. Tucker, OD, FAAO, FSLS, Diplomate, ABO
Jan. 5, 2022
Sometimes providing the best care possible to patients, and creating a new stream of revenue and practice growth, requires a rebranding. That was the case for our practice, Bellaire Family Eye Care (BFE).
I noticed that we could provide better care, and fill a significant need in our community, by rebranding and adding the name Contact Lens Institute of Houston (CLIH) to the clinical portion of our office.
I project that this rebranding will help me to increase the number of specialty contact lens patients in our practice by at least 20 percent by the end of 2022.
Opportunity to Grow While Providing Superior Care
I joined BFE in 2011 after completing a Cornea and Contact Lens Residency. I was fortunate to join a successful, well-respected practice with my now partners, Ann Voss, OD, and Marcia Moore, OD. At the time, our practice was mostly primary care, pediatrics and vision therapy. The purpose of my joining the practice was to add a new niche – specialty contact lenses.
Fast-forward a decade and tremendous legwork, approximately 60 percent of my patients are specialty contact lens patients. Because of this, I wanted to capitalize on my efforts and create a name that captured the type of patients that were in need of my specialty. I still thoroughly enjoy primary care, but my true passion is contact lenses of all kinds.
Expanding, Remodeling–and Rebranding
The goal of this rebranding is to create a space for patients who desire to wear contact lenses, but may have been told that they cannot. The reality is that most patients can wear contact lenses – they just need to find the right doctor who will take the time to find the lens that works for them. I honestly believe that can be found in the CLIH.
The timing of the rebranding was strategic. We completed a remodeling and expansion of our office in March 2021. With the new space, it felt like the right time to add the new contact lens-focused branch to our office. Now, when patients walk into our office, they find a high-end, luxury optical on one side of the entrance and on the other side of the office the clinical part of the practice, which now includes CLIH.
BFE is well known for pediatric eyecare – I often have patients ask me if we see adults! I have had success building my practice with referrals, but I wanted to make it easier for patients to find my services organically. A name like CLIH has power and speaks for itself.
Meanwhile the optical portion of our practice is not being undercut by the rebranding and office remodeling. We strategically designed our office so that the reception area is directly connected to the optical. Patients can’t help but notice it. We offer a 20 percent discount on sunglasses for my specialty contact lens patients and for patients who purchase a one-year supply of contact lenses.
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Finalizing, Protecting & Promoting the New Brand Name
First, we had to make sure no one else had the CLIH name. We did a simple Google search for the name first, and then searched for the name on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Next, we created a website for CLIH and linked the site to the BFE website. We sent a newsletter to all of our patients making it clear that CLIH is a new branch of BFE in the exact same location. We added signage outside of our building with the new name. We have internal signage as well.
The major costs associated with marketing CLIH were the new signage and creating and maintaining the new website. I spent 10-12 hours creating the content of the new website and working through the edits with a web designer.
In addition, we purchased a new topographer for CLIH for around $25,000. I felt that I needed this new piece of equipment to provide the best contact lens options to my patients. We were already offering every contact lens option to our patients, including impression-based scleral devices and several brands of orthokeratology lenses. The topographer elevated our ability to custom design certain lenses. In the beginning of 2022, we will be adding an ocular biometer to enhance our myopia management programs. We also will be participating in a couple contact lens studies, which is, in part, due to our rebrand.
Along with the renovation and added instrumentation, we added an associate, Aamena Kazmi, OD, who has created a sub-specialty that will enhance our patients’ success in contact lenses-dry eye management.
For social media, we have an external and internal marketing team. We meet a few times per month to plan out our social media content. This includes a blog schedule and posts. As a busy practitioner, I need this marketing team, and our regular meetings, to stay organized and sane.
Once our contact lens patients learn about, and experience, CLIH, I believe it will grow quickly as they tell their friends and family about the high level of specialized care they received.