Circles of Influence

By
By Catherine Wolinski: Assistant Editor

ELKHART, Ind.—As a family practice that has been in business here for 52 years, it’s no surprise that Boling Vision Center (BVC) serves a tight-knit community of eyecare seekers. Despite the intimacy of the area, though, the practice has undertaken grassroots marketing efforts that extend its reach beyond town borders. With two locations in the Michiana region, BVC has made a number of connections that have kept it in the public eye.

 
 Practice administrator and CEO Hayley Boling stands by BVC’s motto that “amazing happens here.”
Practice administrator and CEO Hayley Boling refers to these community ties as “circles of influence.” By building relationships with local businesses, the practice is able to spread the word—and its products—throughout the community.

“We nurture the relationships that we already have with them,” Boling said. From day spas to Notre Dame athletics to nonprofits like Kindness to Prevent Blindness, BVC works hand in hand with other organizations as a way of increasing their outreach and customer base. “Really what it comes down to is nurturing and maintaining relationships,” Boling said.

One relationship in particular she referred to is the practice’s partnership with The Cutting Edge, a beauty salon in the area. According to Boling, the connection goes back to her childhood.

 
Boling Vision Center’s Elkhart location. 
“I’ve been getting my hair done there since I was a little girl,” Boling told VM. “They’ve become one of our biggest advocates. It’s been a fun affiliation—both businesses have blossomed.”

The Cutting Edge master stylist Maggie Brophy agreed that the partnership has proven fruitful. As a lifelong recipient of BVC eyecare and eyewear—and current wearer of their new Jimmy Crystal collection—Brophy uses her conversations with clients as opportunities to inform them of BVC’s products and services. The marketing efforts at The Cutting Edge go beyond word of mouth, too—the salon houses a sample supply of Jimmy Crystal “cheaters” for clients to view and try on before going into BVC’s practice.

“It gives me an opportunity to let them know the specials going on, products they have available, how they do their financing,” Brophy explained. “As a stylist, your clients talk to you about everything. What’s been amazing with our relationship with Boling Vision Center is that not only am I a client of theirs, but I’m able to then talk to my clients about what their [vision] needs are. Then, if someone needs a facial or massage, we’re who they market to.”

 
 The Cutting Edge master stylists Brenda Scott and Maggie Brophy partner with Boling Vision Center.
Boling said the practice does not limit their service to those interested in luxury. The town, she said, revolves around the RV industry, yielding patients who are looking for eyewear choices that combine fashion and function, and come at reasonable price points. “I have factory workers that want something that looks good, but don’t want to be standing in the grocery store trying on glasses,” she said. “It’s a heavy industrial area. Our patient demographic is everybody—anybody with eyes.”

To cater to such a diverse client base, BVC’s methods of communication, too, are varied. The practice targets print materials and phone calls to those who prefer traditional modes, e-mail and text message scheduling for the younger crowd, and establishes a presence in person as well as online.

Whether it be to treat or to catch them, the eyes of the community are BVC’s main concern. Along with their face-to-face marketing channels, the practice is active on Facebook and other web venues as well. Boling said, “We use social media so people can go online and see what’s happening. We have pictures and testimonials from patients who go onto the page, and then other people can see that and say, ‘if my neighbors trust Boling Vision, so can I.’”