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    Why you are your biggest obstacle to success

    You’re in control when it comes to building a contact lens practice

    When we take a step back and think about what happens in our offices—in our exam rooms—we realize what a huge impact we have, dare I say “control,” on the growth of our contact lens practice. Yet so many elements of our everyday operations challenge that control and cause us to forget or push to the side the techniques we know to grow our contact lens business.

    There are days when the simplicity of the formula astounds me. I refract the patient, push the phoropter to the side, and start with a simple phrase, “Here are your options…”

    I always begin by stressing the importance of glasses, but next comes the idea that contact lenses can add value, flexibility, and convenience. Very quickly, one patient after another arrives without requesting or expecting contact lenses but leaves feeling youthful and hopeful from his newfound freedom.

    So, why isn’t this happening day after day? Schedule, flow, timing, ocular disease, and lack of support can all chisel away our simple plan for success and growth. How do we rise above these obstacles?

    More from Dr. Brimer: How travel affects your patients' lens care habits

    The importance of staff support

    Overcoming most of the challenges requires staff support. And there are several ways to gain that support. Start by setting expectations, and remind them of the value that contact lenses bring to patients and the practice. For every patient, my expectation is that every staff member brings up a product, treatment, or service that would benefit that patient specifically. After all, I want every patient asking for something by the time she gets into my exam room. This forces the staff to be more familiar with our products and also to connect with that patient about her lifestyle.

    Another way this helps is in accountability. As a doctor midway through an exam with three more waiting, what is the likelihood that I will suggest contact lenses to the patient in my chair? Hmmm, but rarely would we suppress that interest if a patient brings it up, regardless of how busy we may be. Rewarding staff with spiffs can generate the initial motivation, but it needs to become the norm in how they interact with the patient.

    Repeatability and longevity are achieved by conducting staff meetings and end-of-the-day opportunity recaps. These don’t have to be formal; sometimes, I simply sit down at the front desk and casually mention interactions I noticed throughout the day. This process can be further dissected to develop major transformation within the office via scripting and flow control, but that’s a subject for another time.

    Next: Disrupting the flow

    Crystal M. Brimer, OD, FAAO
    Dr. Brimer is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Southern College of Optometry. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and ...

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