Optics are important for doctors — especially eye doctors, who provide vision-correction products, accessories, and fittings alongside exams and eye care. One of the best places to begin focusing your brand image is the front-office area, where patients develop their first impression of you. Improving your layout and overall look can make it easier for patients and customers to try on frames and access brochures and other marketing materials, and it can boost the productivity and morale of your team.

Ready to refresh your look? These five ideas are some of the best places to begin.

1. Look at equipment through a customer’s eyes

Think about things in your office that can impact what a customer experiences, including displays, seating, and scheduling software. At this stage, focus on items that impact patient satisfaction. To prioritize what to fix: 

  • Make a record of each piece of equipment, including when it was purchased, how often it is used, and whether it looks worn or out of date, doesn’t function well, or is a problem for staff.
  • Identify bottlenecks that interrupt the flow of customers into and through your office. This may include the check-in system, layout of diagnostic equipment, waiting room, product displays, and even parking.
  • Identify any overlap between the two areas above. Are your older computers outfitted with a slow-to-load scheduling program, for example? Consider those to be your high-priority fixes.

  Tip  

Consider replacing 20% to 30% of your computers each year. This means all your hardware will be less than five years old, making it easier for you to switch to new software programs as they emerge.

2. Move the front desk out of sight

Many optometry offices are doing away with the front desk. This approach creates an open and welcoming front area that gives clients unimpeded access to merchandise displays. To do this:

  • Shift business operations — answering calls, scheduling, etc. — to a back office, and assign that work to a dedicated staffer.
  • Have a staffer greet customers as they enter, check them in, and show them around the space. Consider using a handheld device or tablet for the check-in process to eliminate the need for a bulky laptop or computer.

3. Create eye-catching displays

The front-of-office is really a storefront, so its job is to entice customers and potential patients to come in and browse — and ideally make a purchase or appointment. To gauge the appeal of your entryway, start outside and try to see what grabs your attention. Then head indoors to do the following:

  • Look at the displays. Do shelves and racks look modern, clean, and well-kept? Are products labeled clearly and in type that is large and in an easy-to-read font? Is staff trained in assisting with try-ons of frames and explaining various lens options? Is it clear what your sanitizing procedures are in this area, especially with eyeglass frames?
  • Consider the big picture. Look at sales posters and artwork. Do they align with your décor and to your target customers (classy vs. sporty vs. kid-friendly)? If you’re not sure what vibe you’d like, look at what other eye doctors are doing by visiting offices online or in person.

  Tip  

Remember: Shelving and displays can be custom-made to match your ideal specs. The cost can be worked into your practice improvement budget.

4. Don’t overlook lighting

This is all about making sure clients can see the true colors of products — particularly eyeglass frames, which can reflect colors differently depending on the lighting. To make sure that doesn’t happen: 

  • Maximize natural lighting. Sunlight helps ensure colors are vibrant and true, so use as much natural lighting as possible in the front office (and any product area). Consider locating try-on areas and mirrors near windows, too.
  • Change the lightbulbs. Make sure bulbs in the product display area are in the “cool white” to “daylight” range: about 4500 K or higher on the Kelvin color temperature scale.

  Tip  

Consider using “smart” lightbulbs, which allow you to adjust their brightness and/or color temperature quickly and easily, using a device (like a smartphone or tablet) or your voice (via Alexa or Google Assistant).

5. Monitor wear-and-tear points

Signs of wear, whether it’s worn fabrics or scuff marks on walls, can be perceived by patients as a lack of caring. Give your whole front area the once-over, looking at these areas first:

  • Examine fabrics and textiles. This includes seat cushions, drapes or curtains, and anything else made with fabric, leather, or vinyl. Reupholster or replace anything that’s fraying, cracking, or worn. Also inspect wallpaper and laminate countertops, then budget for needed replacements.
  • Check for paint problems. Look for scuff marks behind chairs and doors, around light switches, and on cabinets. Keep in mind that some items may just need a good cleaning. Before repainting, repair chips, holes, and broken handles for a like-new look.

  Tip  

Painting is one of the least-expensive updates: A gallon of quality paint can cost less than $50, and each gallon can cover roughly 400 square feet of wall.

Whatever you decide to do (or redo), keep in mind that the key is to think like a patient. Try to experience your practice the way they do, and you’ll be able to pinpoint where to start — and then there will be no stopping you!

Source: Review of Optometry 1, Optometric Management, Review of Optometry 2, Review of Optometric Business, VisionWeb, C|Net, PC Magazine, PPG Paints

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