Park Slope Eye
Brooklyn, New York

“Become better everyday. Be friendly first.
Think: How else can I help this person?”

It seems that Justin Bazan, OD, is everywhere these days. When he isn’t appearing on “The Early Show” or at the Vision Monday Leadership Summit, he’s winning new fans on Facebook and gaining stellar reviews on Yelp.

“From day one, we knew that we were a word-of-mouth practice and that social media was going to help us get the word out,” he said of the forward-thinking Park Slope Eye, which has gone paperless. “Google Docs is our filing cabinet and we are fully in the cloud. All of our scripts, protocols, manuals and other documents are stored there.”

The practice also cut phone lines, relying on Google Voice and the Book Now feature on Facebook to schedule appointments, so front desk staff can focus on in-office guests. “To date, we are the only office I know of that does not answer a phone,” Bazan said, adding that e-mail and text is the primary means of communication with patients, along with frequent events and trunk shows.

Ultimately, Bazan loves the fact that people today are researching their online options first in post-recession times. “By getting the word out about what experiences our practice provides through social media, we have seen the best patients coming to us,” he said.

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Tampa, Florida

“The main point of using online tools is to create offline relationships. There are lots of ways for us to tell our story, these tools help.”

“Digital communication is no different than any other element of the practice,” said Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, or “Dr. Nate” as he is more commonly called. “Patient care and customer service are paramount and it starts at the top. When the staff sees how the doctors and managers are respectful of the patients, in-person, online and in private, it sets the tone.”

Dr. Nate has helped set that tone by marketing his practice via its website, blog, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare (he actually started Foursquare Day), as well as co-founding the Peripheral Vision Facebook page to help other ODs share social media tactics.

Digital media has presented challenges for Dr. Nate, most of which he has been able to overcome. “Getting the staff on-board can be a huge challenge. To them, this just feels like more work. I’ve dealt with this by educating them about the benefits, role-modeling use of the tools, discussing social media campaigns during meetings and matching a staff member’s skill and interest when delegating tasks.”

Other challenges include gauging ROI. “Many of these tools are very new and it’s hard predicting what will be successful,” stated Dr. Nate. “Sometimes I will spend an excessive amount of time on a project without certainty it will succeed. For Foursquare Day though, the event received significant attention.”

Arboretum Eye Professionals
Austin, Texas

“It was a challenge to help my staff understand our patients are not just patients...they are consumers who have a choice.”

Emil Fadel’s, OD, passion for his practice is clear, as is the amount of time he’s spent studying consumer habits in order to best engage them.

“We needed to understand that although we are in the practice of providing quality eyecare, we are also a business and businesses that aren’t leading their respective industry get left behind,” said Fadel. “We found through market research, that patients are making cost/benefit analyses and expecting the most ‘bang’ for their proverbial ‘buck.’ So, we changed our business model to ensure we offer the latest technology and deliver the best experience in quality eyecare.”

The practice has since invested heavily in equipment like their Optomap, Spectral Microscope and Corneal Topographer, as well as building a media-rich website able to connect with patients through various media formats. The Arboretum website integrates social media and online review services, as well as allowing patients to get the feel and look of the office and its staff, technology and services. Patients can request appointments and order contact lenses online, view videos and access blog postings and articles. Soon, patients will even be able to view their personal records online.

Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care
Rockville, Maryland

“Digital Media enhances your reputation as a thought leader in your market and enables people to find you easier.”

Alan Glazier, OD, is a published author, patented inventor, business owner, blogger and lecturer in high-demand, but he still manages to see patients in his private practice, along with three other ODs and a staff of 13.

Much of this success can be traced to January 2007 when Glazier decided to eliminate all traditional marketing in his practice in favor of social media and search engine optimization.

A decision like that doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. It required a great deal of delegating, motivating and training his staff. “Explaining the importance of digital marketing was a challenge,” said Glazier. “We have a digital media policy which we distributed to the staff and each member is required to submit two blog ideas per week.”

Their new digital media duties don’t mean his staff can cut corners on customer service though. “I explain to the staff in this new world of online reviews, businesses are held to new standards; that their actions reflect on the business and are likely to have repercussions through our online reviews. It actually helps promote good customer service habits,” added Glazier.

Clearly it’s working. “We were fortunate during the downturn to have experienced an ‘up’ year, and that says a lot about our business and marketing.”

Manteca Optometry
Manteca, California
Midtown Optometry

They know I answer every single question that is asked.”

For Derron Lee, OD, business is a family affair. Not only does Lee work with his wife Leanne Lee, OD, in their two practices in Northern California, but their business philosophy is “Your Family Is Our Family.” It’s this dedication that has earned the Lees the back-to-back honor of being named Young Optometrist of the Year by the California Optometric Association (COA) in 2008 and 2009.

Lee is also the president of the San Joaquin Optometric Society and the communications chair for COA. It is a role well suited to him, as despite his busy schedule he handles all the communication and marketing for his practices. “I personally update our Facebook pages,” said Lee. “We update several times during the week with pictures and video to keep content fresh and capture patients’ attention. We also utilize Yelp reviews, blogs, QR 2D codes and pictures to engage the patients.”

It is a marketing philosophy that starts in the office. “We actively ask patients to Like us on Facebook and refer them to Yelp.com and Facebook for reviews. We’ve stopped
traditional marketing like YellowPages altogether and now focus our efforts on other means of advertising.”