Josée Falardeau jumped in and bought an independent practice one week after her graduation in 1992, and has been going full-steam ever since. She still finds time and energy to walk, run and cycle in the summer, and snowshoe, curl and ski in the winter. While the traditional four Ps of marketing are Price, Promotion, Product and Place, Dr. Falardeau shares her redefined four P’s for success in her two-location practice.
I’ve been practicing optometry since 1992 in Malartic, a little town in Quebec, in a practice I acquired one week after graduating from University de Montréal School of Optometry. At the time, the clinic had only two staff members. The previous owner retired immediately; we never worked together to hand over the practice. Fifteen years later, I acquired a larger two-OD clinic in Val-d’Or, a gold-mining and industrial city of about 30,000 in Northwestern Quebec. For nearly three years, I ran two different clinics in two different towns doing the job of three ODs.
Today, our team consists of four optometrists, an office supervisor, two receptionists, several dispensary assistants and a laboratory technician: over 20 in total. While initially, the patient base reflected the age of the retiring optometrists, the practice now has a very diversified patient base, consisting still of the original older patients and now many younger families. We often see three generations of patients – a true “family-based” optometric practice.
Underline Passion with Principles and Process
In a small, isolated city like ours, it may be easier to be close to your patients. It also means that word of mouth can make or break your practice reputation quickly! Our success is based upon three core principles: respect, honesty, and loyalty. We are totally committed to provide the best services and products for our patients based on their needs, but always anchored by our values.
Passion and principles, however, need to be grounded in an effective process to discover the patient’s needs and convert these into revenue opportunities. To do this, we ask all our patients to fill out a questionnaire, which helps us to assess their lifestyle and their visual needs. This questionnaire is a very important tool for us to begin and sustain our relationship with patients.
Our survey has been constantly fine-tuned over the years and evolved into specific questionnaires based upon age of the patients: children, adults and seniors. Since the patient’s activities may change over time and we need to be aware of these changes, the survey is taken on each visit. The patient questionnaire travels in each step of the customer journey, including into the examination room. The answers allow us to easily identify patients’ needs and fulfill these needs with the best available solutions that our key suppliers make available.
Partners in Practice
The eye care professional’s duty is to keep patients well informed about eye care diseases and about the various solutions, provided by our partners, that can help them to see better or be more comfortable.
Solutions like Crizal Prevencia®, Transitions®, and the Varilux® X series fit perfectly with this approach. We now commonly see visual fatigue for most people using digital devices and prescribe advanced single-vision design Eyezen™ lenses for these cases. In addition, we use Essilor’s Visioffice® for all measurements for all patients, to provide personalized lenses and a unique eye technology experience.
These advanced technologies provide added value by enhancing their lifestyle and vision. Our approach, backed up by products in which we have full confidence and know patients will love, builds loyalty, trust, and client satisfaction.
Our industry is constantly evolving, which makes keeping up with innovation and the latest technologies a critical success factor. We organize one to two-hour training and review sessions for optometrists and assistants every four to six weeks. Our key suppliers including Essilor and Opto-Reseau (our network group) are partners in this approach. Training allows the team to be aligned in our values and goals, encourages their involvement in achieving our objectives, and most importantly provide the best possible solutions for our patients.
Participation in the Community
Reaching beyond the walls of the practice is also very important to me. We participate in fundraising with the Leucan Association for Children with Cancer, for the past three years sponsoring a Saturday afternoon children’s show at a local comedy festival that the children perform in. We donate 50 pairs of sunglasses to children under 12 participating in the show. We also maintain communication with our patients through our monthly newsletter, website, Facebook page, and patient recall postcard mailings. We advertise promotions on local radio, where I am also the talk show eye health expert.
We always stay true to our core principles and encourage the team to participate in the sales process. We leverage the resources and excellent technologies of our partners to provide patients the best services and advanced technology products with a satisfaction guarantee. When you believe in what you’re doing, it’s easy to share that passion with others.
JOSÉE FALARDEAU, OD,
Is the owner of Clinique Opto-Réseau Val-d’Or and Clinique Opto-Réseau Malartic. She can be reached at email@example.com. At Opto-Réseau, our mission is to offer exemplary eye care and to provide the products that best suit the needs and the personality of each of our patients.