From beginning to end, the 2018 Eyecare Plus national conference invited members to step outside their comfort zones to explore new opportunities and achieve new goals in both their personal and professional lives.
Eyecare Plus had plenty to celebrate at its national conference on the Gold Coast during the last weekend of October. This year the group was voted best optometry group by Canstar, and is currently courting a long term relationship with EyePro, an independent, like-minded group of optometrists from New Zealand. All going well, the addition of 68 kiwi practices will significantly boost resources.
I encourage people to be excellent, to think bigger…
Much of the conference was, as you’d expect, dedicated to helping optometrists grow their market share. Dedicated suppliers, among them ProOptics, VSP Australia, VMD, Maui Jim, Mondottica, Frames Etcetera, Hoya, Shamir, Essilor, AFT, and MyHealth1st, had plenty of products and services on offer to help them do exactly that.
The industry speaker line up included Krista Hoey (Hoya), Joe Tanner (CooperVision), Tim Thurn (Essilor), Dr. Alexandra Roos (Essilor Research and Development), Dale Rolfe and Simon Lewis (Eyecare Plus) and Jodie Green (MyHealth1st). Additionally, former Winter Olympic aerial skier and business woman Alisa Camplin, and a corporate speaker imposing as a celebrity sports psychologist, delivered keynotes that were both entertaining and inspirational.
SETTING GOALS, MAKING PLANS
Without doubt, Ms. Camplin’s story of success was a highlight of the program. She was just 19 years old and training as a marathon runner when she signed up for aerial skiing. She had never seen the snow and no-one believed she would achieve her dream of Olympic success.
Ms. Camplin said she switched from marathon running because it was “a lonely sport” and she realised she was faking her passion for it.
“You can’t fake passion… you need to move on. I discovered aerial skiing. I had a vision and I had a plan,” she explained.
Ms. Camplin described the gruelling eight year plan she developed to achieve Winter Olympic success in Salt Lake City. Since then, she has used the same planning technique in her professional and personal life and said, “It doesn’t matter what your goal is, this is a process and a structure that works… a vision without a plan is just a wish – a vision is what you want to achieve and a plan is how you’re going to get there.”
However, she acknowledged there’s more to achieving success. “Anytime you want to get outside your comfort zone, it’s going to be hard – there are always challenges, obstacles and set-backs.”
Those setbacks can be others (“dream stealers”) and they can be ourselves.
“Dream stealers are vision breakers and goal stealers, and they’re not the people to surround yourself with – they’ll hold you back.”
Speaking of personal barriers she said, “Many of us hold on to our own stop signs… identify your stop signs and put them down”.
Ms. Camplin put her own mental and emotional “stop signs down” by using affirmation statements, meditating, visualising, and becoming “my own chair leader”. She said she overcame physical barriers holding her back by committing to an extraordinary training regime. While most female aerial jumpers were doing 15–20 jumps a day in the months leading to the Games, and the men were averaging around 30, she averaged 38 jumps per day – 800 more than her nearest competitor. In the final six weeks prior to the Games, Alisa broke her ankle. Her training was then limited to visualisation yet impressively, she achieved Gold.
“I encourage people to be excellent, to think bigger not just in business but in life, you have highs and lows but your real story is the transitions you make in between… If you identify what you want and really apply yourself to achieving it, all effort will be worth it.”
Joe Tanner, Professional Services Manager for CooperVision, spoke about the MiSight 1 day contact lens for myopia management including results from an ongoing international clinical trial. After three years, children wearing MiSight 1 day showed a 59 per cent reduction of myopia progression and 52 per cent reduction in axial elongation compared with those wearing single vision control lenses. At this point, children wearing the control lenses were refitted into MiSight 1 day and, after one year, have showed a slowing in their refractive error and axial elongation to the same rate of change as those in the test group. The trial will continue for another six years.
TAKE HOME MESSAGES
Hoya’s Krista Hoey provided delegates with practical take home messages about the best ways to communicate with patients and boost sales. Basing her advice on extensive campaign data analysis, Ms. Hoey said getting your customer retention strategy right is essential before you engage in any marketing. “Until you have this sorted you’ll be wasting money trying to acquire customers,” she said.
If you forget to make contact with patients in between their eye examinations, it’s likely they’ll forget you. Start the process of retention in the examination room, by advising that you’ll send a recall at a given time, that way the patient will be expecting to hear from you. Make contact at least once a quarter with meaningful and relevant information.
Ms. Hoey said the customers most likely to return to a practice are those who have purchased recently and frequently and have a high monetary value (i.e. have spent a lot with your practice).
Her analysis shows that including a carefully crafted offer almost always increases the response rate for direct communications with patients, and that a simple, clearly defined price discount – in monetary value as opposed to a percentage off – was the strongest incentive. Even though the offer will reduce the margin from the sale, the increased number of patients responding will more than compensate for the reduced margin.
She said email marketing is generally underutilised as a communication medium by independent optometrists, yet it’s fast to produce and cheap, especially compared to direct mail.
PROCESS OF PERSONALISATION
Dr. Alexandra Roos, Head of Essilor’s Centre for Innovations and Technologies AMIRA, spoke about how optometrists can provide more personalised service and advice to their patients.
Essilor R&D has created four teams to address market segments defined by stage of life – children, young adults (to 44 years), mid-life and seniors. The aim is to better understand, and therefore address, both the emotional and functional visual needs for each of these segments.
She explained the different emotional challenges that each of these groups typically experiences – for example, people moving into the middle aged bracket may be in denial about becoming presbyopic; older people are dealing with the complications that come with ageing. Within these macro profiles, there are more specific consumer profiles and emotional challenges to be faced. It is important for optometrists to empathise with the patient and ask more pertinent questions before recommending a solution.
“When you are selling a product, what will be the person’s state of mind? It doesn’t make sense to have an amazing product if you don’t connect with the consumer… in order to provide them a personalised solution,” said Dr. Roos.
POWER OF ONLINE
Jodie Green, who previously worked with Eyecare Plus and now works with MyHealth1st, told her moving personal story of discovering she had bowel cancer in June this year. Ms. Green, who is undergoing treatment, used her story to highlight the impact of MyHealth1st’s online appointment, recall and feedback platform, and its value for practitioners and patients.
When she first noticed symptoms of bowel cancer Ms. Green said she failed to make an appointment with her doctor – the symptoms always seemed to flare up after hours and then she’d forget about them. Ms. Green said she wondered whether the convenience of an online booking system would have led to an earlier diagnosis. Speaking of the value of a recall system, she said that now, with so many medical appointments to attend, she relies on SMS recalls to keep her on track. And speaking on patient feedback, she said the medical treatment she received in the public hospital system had been inconsistent. Acknowledging that an online feedback platform might be difficult to administer in the public system, she said practitioners who invite patient feedback and ask questions can use the information to identify opportunities for change. Additionally, she said it shows patients you care.
Eyecare Plus is a close knit community of optometrists and a roaring 20’s themed gala dinner provided the perfect opportunity for members to reconnect with colleagues and suppliers, let their hair down and celebrate their recent successes.
Photos by Yvette Safier, Eyecare Plus