You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”
Will Rogers

While our workplaces are a place of collegial congeniality and comfort, eye clinics may not always invoke positive feelings among your patients.

People rarely look forward to eye tests, especially those who are squeamish about someone getting close to their eyes. While this may seem like dramatization, the prudent thing is to recognize this reality and act.

By creating an inviting eye clinic reception area, you can appease apprehensive patients. Creating a comforting atmosphere to welcome patients can make a great first impression. The first impression will dictate how they feel about the rest of the experience too.

Here are some ways to create an inviting eye clinic reception.

A Welcoming Environment
Generally, eye clinics rarely radiate warmth. The cold clinical colours often used may not provide a feeling of comfort.

By adding more color to the reception area with soft furnishings, you can easily add a degree of friendliness and warmth in the reception area.

You can even have some gentle music playing in the ground or add some games or toys for kids and magazines for adults. You might also consider providing free Wi-Fi so folks can use their phones in peace while they wait. It can set patients at ease.

Welcoming and Warm Staff
A lot of patients may be on edge, so they don’t really need the extra burden of a non-empathetic staff.

Some kind words from welcoming staff at the reception can be crucial for setting the patients at ease. It can also create long-term, loyal patients if they feel welcome in your clinic.

Make sure the person who manages the phone is also warm and kind. An abrupt or cold approach can dissuade a patient from even attempting to book an appointment with the clinic in the first place.

Flexible Payment Methods & Transparency
Healthcare is definitely expensive for a lot of people. If you provide patients with plenty of options to make payments it can make them feel much better about visiting your clinic.

It’s also important to be upfront about costs and have transparency in the billing.

Effective Scheduling and Appointment System
One of the biggest mistakes is to make patients wait around particularly when they are on time for their appointment.

In rare cases, it may be inevitable, but you should still keep a strict check on time.

An inviting eye clinic reception is one that operates on time so that no patient gets frustrated.

You can automate the scheduling system to send patients text alerts for any schedule changes or delays.

Creating an inviting eye clinic reception is more than just doing the bare minimum of adding furniture. You have to consider the needs of the patient and design your work culture and clinic accordingly.

As the saying goes, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. Take a fresh look at your reception area.  Can you do better?


is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit to learn more.


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Dr. Kerry Salsberg followed in his fathers footsteps in private practice

Shared his interests in science, technology, healthcare and business

Recently teamed up with Frank Carpino of Urban Spaces to reimagine and build the practice of the future today

R. Kerry Salsberg

Dr. Kerry Salsberg

Doctorate of Optometry from the University Of Waterloo.

Awarded the T.T. Beattie Award for Orthoptics and Visual Training

General Optometry and multi-specialty independent practice owner and entrepreneur


What business book would you recommend other ECPs read?

Re-Engineering Retail by Doug Stephens: Retail is not dead in Optometry so long as you understand the shifting needs and expectations of a new consumer. This book provides a roadmap to successful retailing with an emphasis on memorable consumer experiences.

Where do you see your practice/ eye care in 10 years?

I think we will see further consolidation of smaller practices into larger group practices with the goal of providing economies of scale, best-in-class instrumentation, specialty services and one-stop shopping. The patient experience will be paramount to the financial success of the practice.

What is something you have done in your practice to set you apart.

Look at current trends in retail and mirror them in your practice. Offer your patients something new every year whether that be new instrumentation, frame lines, services, experiences and most importantly, LET THEM KNOW. Think outside the box in terms of product and service offerings.

What is currently the most exciting thing in your field to help patients.

Dry eye therapy and facial aesthetics.  We recently invested in Radio Frequency technology that not only treats Meibomian Gland Disorder/ Dry eye but also tightens skin and reduces fine lines and wrinkles around the face. A more youthful appearance is a big driver in our practice for this treatment.

Favourite 80’s Jam.

A combination of Steely Dan, Yes, Van Halen, and Tears for Fears. I know, a weird combination

Tell me something few people know about you?

I was once a magician and I love to bowl. Please don’t print this 🙂

You can listen to Dr. Salsberg discuss the major office renovation undertaken on our Eyes Wide Open Podcast 


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Shopping for office space is like shopping for a house. It is easy to get distracted by first impressions. A beautiful, bright space is tempting, but will renting or purchasing the space give your practice what you need to grow? My practice recently made a move to a new space. Here is how I connected my strategic goals for my practice to the new space we found.

Match Patient Volume to Space

Our old space had distinct limitations. It was less than 900 square feet, far too small for the more than 3,000 patients we see each year. We also lacked prominent street-front views of the office, so people could not see us from the road. Including the doctor that I bought the practice from, we had been in that space for over 30 years, and still people in the neighborhood did not know we were there. We were only attracting one demographic, and we wanted to have a more diverse population of patients.

The well-trafficked corner in West Palm Beach, Fla., where Dr. Jasper moved her practice, Advanced Eyecare Specialists.

To retain patients, we limited our scope of searching to less than five miles. We didn’t want to inconvenience existing patients, so we ended up choosing a space less than .5 miles away from our old space, and yet we already have seen a large increase in new patients.

Location, Location, Location

Location is key. I really think you need patients and prospective patients to have an easy-to-see street-front view of your practice. People need to see you as they drive by. If they pass your sign daily, they will think of you when the time comes for eyecare and new eyewear. You need a good sign and good logo that is easy to see from the road to maximize the potential of your location. I have many friends that are successful in business centers with no prominent street-front view, and I am happy for them, but I suspect they would be even more successful if patients could see them more easily.

We chose our location because it is on a street corner that has 26,000 cars drive by daily, according to a feasibility study of the location that we conducted prior to signing the lease. We also chose it because it had the availability to have a very large sign on the corner with our name on it.

Patient Convenience

We currently have eight staff members, so we needed space for those eight cars, plus space for patient cars, and will need more space as the practice grows. We knew we had to have parking or patients would be discouraged from shopping in our dispensary. Our city of West Palm Beach, Fla., does not have much public transportation, so parking matters. We also wanted to find a location close to neighborhoods. We find that our patients like to see a doctor close to home and we wanted to find a location close to their homes. We have people who come to see us from many miles away, but the majority of our patients are moms bringing the family who are from the neighborhood immediately surrounding the office.

Announce Relocation with Bold Statement on Practice Web Site

I knew many patients would visit our web site before making their appointment, so I made sure our site featured the following announcement of our move:

“We’ve MOVED!
Since 1941 we have been serving our patients in West Palm Beach. As of January 3, 2012, we’re proud to announce that we have moved to a newer, larger facility just three blocks away so we can better serve YOU! Please give us a call for directions before your next visit.

Think Long-Term Growth

The large, enhanced optical shop featured at the new location of Advanced Eyecare Specialists.

We thought in terms of the long run when choosing our space. We knew that in our old space we would be limited in the number of patients we could see and would not be able to bring in a second doctor without a second and third exam room. It isn’t cheap to expand, but we also knew that with upcoming changes in medical care resulting from health care reform, we needed to be prepared to adapt to change.

Renting Is OK, Too

Purchasing an office space that can become a long-term investment is the ideal, but sometimes it is not possible. In our case, we rented this space we just moved into after searching for a location we could buy for two years unsuccessfully. Our lease is for five years. It typically takes 10 years to recoup the costs associated with moving, so prepare to stay put for a while following your relocation.

Compare What You Have to What You Would Be Getting

The optical in our new space is five times as big and has twice the number of frames and higher-end frames as our old space. We still have the same number of chairs In the optical, but our goal was more shopping space, not seating space. We now have a pre-testing area as well as a separate room for special testing so we can maximize our ability to move patients through the office quickly. We also were able to purchase more instrumentation for better patient care. We now have three exam lanes fully automated with Marco TRS systems, and the entire office uses electronic health records for maximum efficiency.

Delegate Search but Devote Time to Looking

A doctor with a full patient load probably will have difficulty setting aside the needed time to conscientiously shop for office space. In my case, I turned over much of the detailed searching to my husband, who also happens to be my practice’s business manager. We looked at more than 20 locations over a period of two years before making our final selection.

Don’t Forget: Office Space Must Enhance Patient Experience

You can have all the best instrumentation and best looking office and great selection of frames, but when the patients start coming into the office, the experience also has to be amazing. The beauty of the new space is that we have been able to create systems and efficiencies that make the patient experience one that they will want to return for. At the end of his exam, one of my patients recently said to me: “Dr Jasper, the office is beautiful, and the staff is amazing. The experience you have given me today well justifies the fee you charge.” That is what we strive for every day, and the new office has made that even more of a reality. To give our patients time to adjust to the new location, we kept our fees the same for the first six months following the move and then raised fees by $40. Happily, the majority of our patients have made the move with us.



April L. Jasper, OD, FAAO, is the owner of Advanced Eyecare Specialists in West Palm Beach, Fla. She is featured in a cover story in the Spring 2012 issue of MBA Insights. To contact her:


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