Marketing

Attract New Patients & Support Community at Local Charity Events

By Chad Waggoner, OD,

and Kimberly Manthe, ABO
February 4, 2015

SYNOPSIS

Participating in local charity events–and publicizing your involvement–introduces you to prospective patients.

ACTION POINTS

CHOOSE HIGH-IMPACT EVENTS. Serve the greatest number of people at one time, and also maximize your practice’s exposure to your community and publicize involvement.

GAUGE COST. Save staff overtime expenses by making participation voluntarily, or by giving hourly employees the day off on days of charity events.

MARKET PRACTICE AT EVENTS. Have spectacle lens cleaner, cleaning cloths and pens with practice name to distribute.

Participating in local charities is fulfilling, but it also can be a new patient generator. Our practice participates in many local outreach efforts, and have discovered it’s a great way to introduce ourselves to prospective patients. Document your participation with photos and post those photos to your practice web site and Facebook page to show patients your good works.

It’s easy to get so bogged down with the daily workings of a practice that we forget to give back to the community that supports us. By connecting to your community, you have the opportunity to meet people who may never have known you were there before. The end result is a win/win for everyone.

Participate in Community Educational Events

We look for events that give back to the community, allow us to educate participants about our services and have a large projected turn out for maximum results.

We participated in about 30 local health fairs in 2014 including: Intercity Transit Health Fair, Relay for Life, Cruisin’ for a Cure car show – bone marrow drive, blood drive, cancer fund raiser and education day, Military Family Day, Charity Golf Events and the Department of Labor and Industries Health Fair. In addition, we participate in eye health screening days at local schools in the DuPont and Joint Base Lewis McCord area where the “Eye Didn’t Know That!” activity book and backpacks are given to the children who participate. We also offer monthly community education talks by our doctors called “Eye on Health,” which include information about everything from cataracts and dry eye to new technology in lenses and UV protection. Clarus Optical also pairs up with the public school districts to do a program called “Math for Life,” which enables students at different grade levels to come in during their spring and winter breaks to learn by working through math problems related to the optical world. We had 217 students participate in this program in spring 2014.

Clarus staff members participate in a local senior citizen health fair. Dr. Waggoner and practice administrator, Kimberly Manthe, say participating in such events provides an important educational service, and lets community members know you are in the neighborhood, ready to serve them.

Generate New Patients

As a result of “Cruisin’ for a Cure,” not only did we organize a blood drive, bone marrow drive and cancer fund raiser, but connected to our community and brought in 74 new patients. Out of the 217 students who participated in “Math for Life,” we generated 12 new families as new patients in our practice. The outreach we do to military families also is a new patient generator. It is important that we stay connected to the military since every three to five years families cycle through to a new post and need a new eye doctor.

People hear about us at community events, or work alongside of our doctors and employees, see the support we give to families in need, and they see that our practice is making a difference, which in turn, brings new patients into the practice. People want to visit a practice they feel has strong ties to their community.

Gauge Cost to Practice to Participate in Charities

The cost of these events varies. Golf events, once you have your basic practice outreach bins set up, may only cost $100. Our “Eye on Health” education series costs the doctors’ and administrators’ time once you get the class and location set up. Larger events like Military Family Days are sometimes organized through outside organizations, and may have a booth fee of $100 – $500 depending on the event and location.

Our annual “Cruisin’ for a Cure” benefit is volunteer-run the day of the event. We have participating car owners pay a fee for participating, we have business and corporate sponsors and a silent auction with items procured from local businesses, sports teams and vendors. The local blood mobile and National Bone Marrow Registry bring their own booths and equipment. Clarus provides an education booth with Transitions and Jorgenson’s Lab to talk about UV protection and new technology. We raise enough money to pay for the event and give back each year to the American Cancer Society. Employee hours are the major cost. We give hourly employees a day off during the week of our Cruisin’ for a Cure to avoid overtime.Staff members that are on the outreach team take alternate days off if the benefit is on the weekend to prevent overtime. The doctors schedule their education time after clinic hours or take a long lunch to assist with screenings.

Our doctors, the staff and administrators all contribute to the success of our community outreach program. The doctors do most of the community education talks, as well as the optical administrator. The military events are staffed, depending on the event, by a doctor, staff and administrator. Golf events are staffed by staff and administrators as some of the doctors team up to play during the charity events. Lab representatives and frame vendors also join a lot of these events, so our staff is then freed up to educate, and at times, sell products.

The time required also depends on the size and participation of the event. If it is a health fair/community education event, and you have your outreach bins ready to go with your practice information, ophthalmic and contact lens information, and vendor participation for frame selection, it only requires hours. Larger events can take days or weeks to prepare for. These prep hours are worked into normal business hours. We assign an outreach team member to be in charge of each event as the key contact person.

Actively Market at Charity Events

We hand out items like cleaner, cloths and pens with practice information at many charity events. We also sometimes sponsor raffles to give away a pair of sunglasses. In addition, Clarus has a “Like Us on Facebook” sign at each event, which increases our likes and brings exposure to Clarus Eye Centre and Clarus Optical.

Our doctors take turns writing blogs each month that are posted to our practice web site that coincide with the educational topics of the “Eye on Health” series events, which they alternate speaking at each month.

Chad Waggoner, OD, is a partner at Clarus Eye Centre, the 2013 Transitions Practice of the Year, in Lacey, Wash, and Kimberly Manthe, ABO, is the practice administrator. To contact: KimM@claruseye.com

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