By Ally Stoeger, OD
What you see every day, you really may not see at all. But your patients do.
So, does your office look more like an Apple store — or like Grandma’s house where every possible surface is covered with tchotchkes? (According to Wikipedia, this evocative Yiddish word includes “gewgaws, knickknacks, baubles, lagniappes, trinkets or kitsch. The term has a connotation of worthlessness, or disposability or tackiness.”)
The clean look of an Apple store may be a better investment for your practice than looking like Grandma’s room. Consider this: Ron Johnson, the merchandiser behind the creation of the Apple Store, recently was hired by JC Penney for $1.5 million.
Take a cue from top retailers: Create calm, clean spaces that appeal to your patients.
Take a look around your office and eliminate or reorganize the following items to create office space that enhances the patient experience:
• If a poster is yellow-edged, frayed and from a company no longer in business, it’s time to discard it. That is, unless you choose to display it in an artistic, antique setting.
• Overflowing supplies of lubricating drops, lens solutions and medication samples on open shelving are an unappealing sight. It’s impossible to keep these shelves and bottles dust free, and it’s not uncommon to find some of these products are expired.
• Find a neat way to organize trial contact lenses (yes, it can be done). Discard rarely used trial lenses; they are not worth the valuable real estate and visual space they take up.
• Assign a staff member the weekly responsibility of deciding which brochures and point-of-purchase materials should be discarded. If you don’t assign this task, then each staff member will assume someone else in the office thinks that the materials should not be discarded. It’s the opposite of interior decoration when materials of different shapes and colors are dropped into every inch of free space. The more brochures and point-of-purchase materials you exhibit, the worse your office looks, and the less likely any one of these materials will get someone’s attention
• Family photos don’t look charming squeezed between solutions, brochures, textbooks and ophthalmoscopes. Consider these family photos as artwork by framing them attractively and placing them in a pretty, appealing spot. If you want to add a personal touch to the office, use photos that evoke family personality and not posed graduation photos.
For items currently cluttering your countertops and open shelving, consider investing in attractive cabinetry. Most offices don’t have nearly enough attractive, closed cabinetry. I recommend shallow shelves because they are easier to keep uncluttered.
Your office is your storefront, so treat it as such.
What have you done to streamline clutter in your office? What have you found works best for trial contact lens storage?
Ally Stoeger, OD, is a practicing optometrist, a practice consultant, and a developer of resources for optometrists on www.RealPracticeToday.com. You can reach her at 703-999-9279.