By Maria Higgins, OD
April 20, 2016
In your practice growth plan, creating a community-based event that shows patients, and prospective patients, the spirit of your practice and the optical goods you sell can be a powerful practice builder. I nowconsult full-time to optometric practices, but for many years I ownedUnique Optique in the vibrant downtown of Frederick, Md., and we had great success with five types of community-based events that brought innew patients and eyewear sales and also improved myvisibilitywithlocal residents.
Through the Looking Glass
What was it? A children’s trunk show partnering with Ogi Kids.
Goal: Build pediatric exams andsales of frames and lenses.
What work was required and who did it? I did the work myself. I chose a theme and decorated the office in this theme. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and arranged them in a chess pattern, had cupcakes with playing card suits on them arranged in a caterpillar pattern, with “Eat Me” and “Drink Me” signs nearby.
I hung strings of cards as garland, decorated our windows with wind-up clocks, had Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum face masks and themed props in the photobooth and posted Alice in Wonderland sayings around the office. I dressed up as Alice.
We had a coloring contest, as well as a Pin the Smile on the Cheshire Cat contest for a free complete pair of kids glasses. We had a face painter on site. Gift bags contained an Alice in Wonderland book, crayons, playing cards, slinkys, and eye puppets, as well as Essilor promotional items like cleaning cloths and pens.
What revenues were generated? We had approximately five orders during the show and 3-4 later. We were a high-end boutique, so this was a significant return.
Downtown Collective Fashion Show
What was it? Fundraiser for the Downtown Frederick Partnership
Goal: To raise money for a good cause, and to give our community a sampling of the products we sell. We were included in a downtown-wide fashion show with most of the small businesses related to fashion. It took place at the much-publicized Artomatic in a funky old urban building in downtown Frederick.
What work was required and who did it? I was not the primary planner, just a contributor. The models came to the office to be fit with glasses that would complement their particular outfit. The MC discussed each frame, and our practice, as the model took the runway. It cost us nothing financially.
What revenues were generated? Hard to measure, but occasionally a patient mentioned that they first heard about our practice at this fashion show.
Art Gallery Opening
What was it?Art Gallery Opening for the local Maryland School for the Deaf.
Goal: To raise money for the school through the children’s art. I had an art gallery in my office. We changed the art every two months and used it as an excuse to throw a party for the gallery opening. One month, I contacted the art teacher for the school for the deaf and we had a gallery opening for their art-inspired glasses paintings. We had a contest called “Pay off the Judges.” We displayed the kids’ art, and the one that got the most donations in that kid’s name, won a gift card to the local toy store. The money was donated to the school.
What work was required and who did it? I did the work myself. I had to contact the art teacher and hang the art. I also did the advertising for it, which primarily was on social media.
What revenues were generated? We raised $300 for the school, and the local toy store donated the three gift certificates. I did not have a way to measure if it brought in more business for the office. However, whenever we did community events like this, I was aware that it got our practice name out into the community, and through my personal involvement, introduced me to potential patients.
American Sign Language Class
What was it & Purpose? To provide a way for the general public to learn sign language. Frederick is home to the Maryland School for the Deaf, so we interact with deaf people more often here.
What work was required and who did it?I contacted the school after attending a similar class at the local car dealership. I just provided the space in our office; the teacher did most of the work. It cost our practice $300 to hire the teacher.
What revenues were generated? There were 30 people who signed up for the class (the max number of chairs I had). A few people came back to order glasses, but it was more of a community goodwill event.
Leather & Lace Party
What was it? Third-year birthday party for the practice.
What was the purpose?To celebrate our third birthday, leather is the traditional third anniversary gift. We also had a clothing donation box (of leather, lace or otherwise) to the local hospital clothing drive. We asked everyone to wear leather or lace, and the best outfit won a gift certificate (donated) to a local clothing store. A cake was ordered with a lace appearance to the icing.There were leather and lace props for the photo booth, and a henna artist creating “tattoos.”
What work was required and who did it? I researched and called the henna artist, I came up with the donation idea and took the clothes to the donation center. It cost us $400 for food and the henna artist.
What revenues were generated? This was primarily a celebration, but it brought in patients, and friends and family who were not yet patients, into the office, allowing us to show off the spirit of our practice and our products.