Staying ahead of trends and keeping your business booming is a top priority for most savvy business owners. If you're an eye-care provider, and you feel as though something is missing, here are three ways you can optimize and modernize your optical lab so that you see growth in the coming months and years, both financially and in the number of customers you serve.
Cater To Millennials
Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) will someday make up a large portion of your customer base, if they haven't already. Also referred to as "Gen Y," they literally walk around with the internet right at their fingertips and regularly use it for social media where they discover what's hot and what's not. They also rely on the web for sources of information, particularly when it comes to recommendations for opticians and the services they provide. If you want them to feel at home in your office, implement the following strategies
- Have tablets or computers available that they can use right there on the floor to research styles and brands.
- Have millennial staff (staff they can relate to) available to help them select the best frames.
- Give them the capability of virtually trying on their glasses with the use of an app.
- Educate them on the long-term effects of blue light emitted by monitors and smart phones, which include eye strain as well as vision loss. Offer computer lenses as well as prescription lenses with special blue light coatings to protect their eyes and vision.
- Because millennials aren't typically watching commercialized television and reading magazines the way the older folks are, any ads placed there aren't likely to reach them. Therefore, be sure to invest some of your time marketing on blogs, forums, and especially YouTube. This is where Gen Y is hanging out.
- Make absolutely certain your website features social-share buttons so that they can tweet, pin, like, and otherwise share pictures and posts.
- Be sure to have all the latest when it comes to styles, colors, and eyeglass accessories. If so, you'll have that millennial customer for life.
Offer Prescription Safety Glasses
According to a 2014 report, as much as a third of all independent opticians failed to offer a certain type of prescription safety eyewear. And the CDC claims that a whopping 2,000 or so workers face on-the-job eye injuries each and every day. You can use these statistics to your advantage in several ways.
First, consider offering prescription protective eyewear that your customers can use not only at work but also around the house when doing chores that require eye protection (weed eating, tree trimming, mowing, etc.). You'd be surprised at how many will jump at the chance to not sacrifice their vision for safety. With your help, they can have the best of both worlds.
Second, reach out to local businesses that require safety glasses among employees and form a partnership. Many businesses have kiosks on-site where employees can make their selection with their employer paying a portion of the cost. Also think about networking with several different labs to see if you can get special pricing for bulk orders.
Offer Personalized Customer Service
Over the past few years, both health care reform and the fact that so many people shop online for their glasses has forced ECPs to find new and creative ways of driving new business. Additionally, changes in technology have resulted in people responding very differently to previously successful marketing tactics. By offering personalized customer service, you are setting yourself apart from the online competition as well as the big dogs.
Start by taking inventory and noting which frames, styles, and accessories have not moved off your shelf. Contact your current customers and have a neighborhood one-day-only sale, offering half off your items. Use this time to schedule any needed appointments, eye exams, and so forth.
Offer a lens care class with door prizes or other giveaways.
Make sure your staff follows up with all new customers to ensure they received their new glasses and that they fit correctly. Many ECPs schedule appointments just for a fitting with adjustments as needed.
Market all of these things on social media, and respond to comments and questions daily.
When your customers get that one-on-one attention, they are more likely to return to you for their eyeglass needs.