By Jennifer Jabaley, OD
Nov. 2, 2016
Leaves are changing. Pumpkins are on the porch. This means one thing: The holidays are fast approaching. Some think it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but others can get overwhelmed by hectic schedules both inside and outside of their practices. Here are strategies for a low-stress, prosperous season.
A window display for the holidays can be as low-cost and simple to arrange as gathering discarded boxes, wrapping them with colored tissue, and hanging frames off the corners of the boxes.
Plan to Promote
The holiday season offers a perfect opportunity to incorporate a marketing campaign to help increase practice visibility and sales. End-of-year discounts on retail seem like an obvious choice for seasonal promotions, but don’t forget to remind your patients they can give the gift of sight with gift certificates for exams, eyewear or contact lenses.
Trunk shows with high-end designer eyewear can be promoted as a great gift. Having your staff participate in a local charity event, such as collecting old pairs of glasses to donate to the Lions Club, can not only increase the visibility of your practice, but also boost office morale and make a significant contribution to your community.
If you don’t offer season discounts or deals, you can still use social media, or an e-mail list, to send holiday greetings or interactive posts to your patients. This is a fun and engaging way to keep your practice name and logo recognizable.
Be Proactive with Your Schedule
With holiday parties and shopping, the frequency of no-shows or cancellations can rise. With that in mind, keep your schedule busy by reminding patients to get the most out of their insurance benefits before the end of the year. Medicare patients should be reminded with the start of the year comes new deductibles. Additionally, patients with flex-spending accounts need to utilize their benefits by the end of the year. These are great opportunities to fill in any gaps in your schedules.
Holiday decorations in your optical can require no more effort than interspersing Christmas tree balls among the frames and sunwear in display cases or shelves.
Prepare Holiday Décor and Festivities
Many practice owners want to decorate their offices for the holidays, while others may shy away for fear of offending staff or patients who don’t observe the same religion or culture. To determine what’s right for your practice, initiate a discussion with your staff, and consider the sensibilities of everyone in the office, as well as the patient population you serve.
Along those lines, if you choose to play holiday music in the office, make sure everyone is on board. Additionally, strive for variety, so by the time the holidays do arrive everyone’s not completely exhausted of the same old carols.
Many practices throw a holiday party or lunch. If this tradition has become stale, think out of the box for fun and engaging ways to celebrate the season. This year at our practice, the staff has voted to forgo the annual holiday meal in favor of a group celebration at the spa. Each staff member will select a service (manicure, pedicure, facial, etc.), and the entire group will meet in the relaxation lounge together. The holidays are a great time to show appreciation for your staff. A group celebration is a nice way to do it.
Plan for Days Off
Make your schedule of holiday hours and days off in advance so your staff can plan appropriately. Staff may want to take additional time off around the holidays. Have a policy in place that addresses how many people may take off on the same day. Also address how you will determine which vacation day requests are approved.
Don’t forget to plan for inclement weather. Have a clear policy on how the staff will be notified if the office is closed or delayed due to weather.
Remember the True Meaning of the Season
The holidays are a busy time both inside and outside of our practices. Amidst the rush, don’t forget to take time for yourself, family and friends. Have gratitude for our great profession, and enjoy this special time of year.
How is your practice preparing for the holiday season? What marketing and promotions are you planning to roll out? How are you planning to celebrate with your staff?