How do you define your practice? Are you a destination location? Your patients are often driving past a number of other practices who may well provide comparable products and services to yours. So what is it that makes you special, and makes your patients want to keep coming to see you? More importantly, are you willing to put in the effort required to be a good competitor in your marketplace?
It’s not about “being nice” or even having good service and products. Most practices can actually make those claims. One key to differentiating your practice is understanding what makes your business stand out from the rest.
What Makes You Special?
Consider your favorite restaurant. There are dozens of restaurants in any area that could probably provide you with a good meal. Why do you go out of your way to eat somewhere specific? It may be the food, the environment, or perhaps it’s just comfortable. You need to think of your business the same way, and give your patients a reason to come to you, rather than your competitor.
Get Engaged with Your Community
Community involvement is a great way to help your business stand out. Find creative ways to show your community support and get engaged with those around you, like civil services, the fire department, or community programs for youth. Being involved in your community is another, highly personal way for you to show your patients that you’re committed to them and their well-being.
Compete and Win with a 5-Star Experience
Creating a great experience means looking for ways to give your patients a “wow” experience when they come to your office. That’s not to say you’ll always do everything perfectly, but it does mean that when your business comes up short, or disappoints a patient, you’ll take it seriously and go out of your way to make it right. Being insensitive to your patient means you will likely end up giving that patient up to your competition.
Be a Purveyor of Fine Eyewear
Position yourself as unique when you communicate with your patients. Don’t just offer eye care; make a strong statement about the quality of eye care, technology and products that you offer to your patients. It’s important to offer this “social proof” that you’re in the business of doing a great job, helping people see better. If you want to compete and win with services, get familiar with – and excited about – the back stories and advantages of your technology and products, and you’ll help your patients get excited about them, too.
Are You Happy?
Don’t be afraid to ask your patients if they are satisfied with your service. Those three little words “are you happy?” helps your patient feel like you’re really catering to their needs, and concerned about their well-being. Avoid the “patient abuse” that treats people to the long litany of impersonal tactics, endless forms, and inattentive social interactions that characterize many offices. Take a simple trip around the waiting room to offer water or say hello when patients are waiting. It can change the entire tenor of the experience for them.
These are all pieces of the puzzle that position you to be an extraordinary competitor. Not everyone will bother to take the time to do the things we’ve been discussing so far.
Lead the Pack
When I joined my partner back in 1995, we seriously considered how we were going to be competitive. In our neighborhood, within a 5-block area around our practice, there were thirteen vision practices. Our potential patient base had no shortage of options, and every location was clamoring for attention with advertising, special rates, and so on. We needed to compete and win.
Rather than worrying how we were going to compete with them, we decided to do everything we could to make them worry about competing with us. We chose to go “over the top” for every patient interaction, and make sure our patients were happy. As time went on, we developed a reputation for taking care of patients and protecting their eyewear investment. Our patients regularly spent several hundred dollars for glasses, and we covered them with something we called the “WOW Guarantee.” That meant, whatever the cause, we would cover the patient’s eyeglasses, take care of repairs, and even replacements if necessary.
Pretty soon, our competition was actually chasing us. We got out in front, and we worked hard to stay there.
Empower the Staff
Everyone in your practice should be empowered to make your patients happy. If they can’t fix an issue, empower them to get help, and secure the assistance the patient needs. Make sure they have the tools and the confidence to provide your patients with outstanding care and exceptional service. Then you are not competing with others; they have to compete with you.
You can do this. I’ve seen many practices successfully implement these tactics and not just beat the competition, but actually set the standard. You can compete and win.