Get all eyes from your community on you!
Uncover unique strategies to build brand awareness and engage with your local target audiences as Bethany and Dr. Ryan Robison — a partner at Southwest Vision in Saint George, Utah – discuss how he has elevated his practice to be a community asset.
Learn from his tactics to see how you can grab share-of-voice in your local market for key services that drive great ROI – Why not protect your community’s sight while providing great protection for a solar eclipse? Or how about making sure your home team QB can see the entire field with sunglasses sales and vision screenings at sporting events? You’re here to make sure everyone can reach their maximum potential, so don’t be afraid to think – and act – a little outside the box to positively impact your community.
October 11, 2023
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Becca Starks: We have the ear with the students to hear what they’re looking for. They’re very, very few students that we’re working with, with the class of 2023 that will even consider an opportunity that is not private practice.
Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Hey, I am Bethany Fishbein. I am the CEO of The Power Practice and Host of The Power Hour Optometry Podcast. And I just want to first congratulate all of the new optometrists graduating this week from the optometry schools across the country. It’s such an exciting time. It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I and my classmates at New England College of Optometry in 1997 graduated. It goes fast. It’s really an exciting time. So congratulations, first of all, and this show is inspired by and dedicated to you and all of the people that you are hoping will hire you. Once you get your licenses and get out there into the world. So I’ve invited a guest, I have Becca Starks, Becca handles Enterprise Accounts and Operations for KMK Careers. And she’s here to help me sort out some of the things that today’s optometry students are looking for, and help educate some of the optometrists who are looking to hire young optometrists about misconceptions they may have or differing perceptions of this graduating class. So, Becca, thanks for doing this your second podcast ever. That’s awesome.
Becca Starks: Yes, thank you for having me. This is exciting.
Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, thank you. It’s an interesting time because we work with mostly established optometric practice owners. So most of the people that I’m speaking to day to day are employers of young optometrists, and they have this vision of what today’s graduates are like, and then I get the opportunity to speak with optometry students and recent grads and they’re not necessarily like that perception at all. So hopefully, you can help us bridge the gap a little bit.
Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So, talk about yourself for a minute here. I want you to just talk about KMK and KMK Careers because when I want to data on students, I knew you were the one to go to. And so I want all of my listeners to understand your involvement with young optometrists today.
Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely. So KMK for those that don’t know KMK’s foundation is the KMK board review, which was started 18 years ago by Dr. Kyle Cheatham. And now fast forward 18 years we are inside of all of the 23 optometry schools nationwide. We have a team of optometrist instructors that traveled to all of the schools and we have a relationship with both third and fourth-year optometry students and 98, This is a big number to remember 98% of optometry students utilize KMK to pass their boards. So essentially we have a relationship with almost every single optometry student nationwide from the board’s perspective. And so we now have a new division of KMK specifically on careers which is just a natural extension of supporting those same students and finding their first career.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re initially talking to these students when they’re students studying for boards. And then they hopefully pass boards and you know, move on and take more boards and pass those and move on. So what are the services that you’re providing for these students once they’ve graduated as doctors?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so it’s really fun. Personally, I am mostly an employee you’re facing so those that are looking for these candidates. However, we have a team of career advisors and all day long, they’re the luckiest ones in the world. They get to speak to these upcoming grads. So right now they are around the clock talking to those that are about to graduate here and a couple of weeks or maybe have graduated just recently. And uncovering what they’re looking for in a practice is really it’s a one-on-one relationship, so it’s totally free to students. They sign up to get a career advisor. They have calls with that career advisor to uncover what are they looking for what type of practice is it specific specialties, just anything that may be the true motivating factor as to why they want to go to a certain practice. And then essentially we play matchmaker so the career advisors speak to students all day long. I speak to employers all day long, and then we come together and get to build a bridge between the two and hopefully connect great candidates with a great opportunity.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Maybe it’ll be the next Netflix show after Indian matchmaking, Jewish matchmaking. It’ll be optometric career matchmaking. And be a celebrity.
Becca Starks: I think some of us would watch that, at least your listeners would probably enjoy that.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: My husband and I would watch it so
Becca Starks: same.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So I mean, you’ve got a line of sight into exactly who today’s optometrists or today’s graduating class, today’s brand new optometrists are, can you give some facts and figures of what that class looks like?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so essentially, from a demographic perspective, it’s highly female. The data is showing 70% female and 30% Male.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: 70?
Becca Starks: 70 Percent.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Wow.
Becca Starks: Yes. And there’s information I believe you are going to be able to put in the show notes. But there is a really robust report. I believe it’s lots and lots of pages. I don’t remember how many but there are highlights within that on pages nine and 10 that give a really good but really quick summary of demographics of this class, within gender within race. There’s even financial information about how many needed to have financial aid, that sort of thing, and some really detailed information even about by school breakdown.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Are you able to roll through some of the things in there that kind of stood out to you?
Becca Starks: So the biggest thing that stands out to me is female and how as you it shows kind of year over year how that transition has changed from much more female than male as it was in the past. Same thing with race, I believe I don’t remember how many years ago it was but just not too long ago. It was predominantly white for professionals graduating and now that’s shifted to highly other races, whether it’s Asian or black or other races that are included in that.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what about the financial piece? Because I feel like that’s such a big topic for new doctors. Is this need to pay back student loans? Do you have any stats on the amount of debt that students are graduating with?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so the report itself shows 85% of students are utilizing some type of support financial aid, loans, and the average for a graduate right now graduating is about $200,000 in debt. So definitely it is.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s just from optometry school or that’s including undergrad debt?
Becca Starks: That’s actually a good question. We just get the stat of 200,000 and I assumed it was just optometry school. But that’s a good question.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So young, female, and any change in like age demographic? Or is it typically right out of college a year or two out of college starting into Optometry?
Becca Starks: Yeah, So typically, it is kind of a typical route straight out of undergrad and to optometry school. There is about of the 16-1700 graduates there are about 150 of those that are considered you know, like other avenues whether that would be part-time or returning back in at a later point in time.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay, so out of 1500 you’re talking about? Very typically, right? 1000 young, female, probably non-white doctors.
Becca Starks: Yeah.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: If you had to say this is what’s typical. This is the majority.
Becca Starks: Yeah.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: With debt?
Becca Starks: Yes. A lot of it.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay. So, when you talk to this typical doctor and are getting into the field of matching into a career of their dreams, what are they telling you that they want?
Becca Starks: Yeah. So it’s been interesting to learn that so the things that I came into this thinking people would want my background was actually at LinkedIn for five years before coming on to help launch this division of KMK and I thought it would be very different. I would think pay would exceed everything else. But, interestingly, location is the top deciding factor for these new graduates in determining which practice they want. Obviously, that is the hardest answer because no one can do anything about the location of their practice. But we can touch on this later. Kind of some ideas and tips for those to try to recruit folks into harder locations but definitely the location. Again, before and above pay even this work-life balance coming into play that is much more of a topic. Then I think it has been in years past. Not necessarily meaning, Hey, I want to come in and I want to never work. But this generation is much more just passionate about having that work-life balance of the work to live not live to work mentality. And so location, work-life balance, obviously pay, and structuring pay in a way that is understood to the candidate as well too. So being very upfront about what that pay is so that they know before even applying and putting that in a way that they understand what they actually can make because sometimes it can be hard with percent of production, knowing what that means.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So let’s go into those a little bit more and I want to just go back one to work-life balance because I think that’s probably the biggest misunderstanding between a doc maybe in their 50s and a doc in their 20s. This idea of working to live instead of living to work and it’s respectable and it’s necessary and mental health is important and it’s and life has to work for you. But these older docs, that was not their world. And so when I hear it, it’s complaints. They won’t work weekends, they don’t want to put in 40 hours. They’re asking for a four-day workweek. They’re like it’s coming across as we’re lazy. We’re not dedicated to the practice. We don’t want to be here we’re not going to work as hard as you and it. It creates a disconnect from the start like somebody interviewing, who says I don’t want to work every weekend. All of a sudden has all these judgments thrown on them that they probably don’t deserve. Do you see that with the docs that you’re talking to and you’re matching?
Becca Starks: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it’s the same thing I hear to have. You know, that’s typically the demographic of employers that I’m talking to all day long to have, you know, they came out and maybe cold started or they came out and bought a practice and they’ve been doing it for 20-30 years and like. What?
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Right and they remember, or maybe they’re still working 70 hours a week and they’re there, you know, every day in the practice and their day off there when the cleaning themselves because that’s what the owners do. How do you coach of 50-something and 60-something-year-old practice owners into understanding that it’s not laziness and it’s not to they don’t want to work?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so that is it is a big misconception of the students that it is laziness, and specifically, most students are expecting to work at least one to two Saturdays a month. So it’s not that they’re coming in and saying I only want four-day workweeks, and I’ll never work a weekend. They are expecting a true full work week and one or two Saturdays per month. To your question about how to coach an owner in that situation. I think it’s just taking a step back and looking really high level at your practice as a business and I’ve had this conversation with many owners of I don’t know why we are open Saturdays, honestly, we’ve just always done it and so determined are we doing this because it’s just always been done or when determining this because it is a true business need. And so same thing with later hours or that sort of thing. If it is a true business need 100% voicing that to a candidate that’s a friend and that’s that’s great, but there may be situations where again, it’s just we’re doing this because it’s been done forever. And actually, our patients wouldn’t mind if we didn’t have a late night or we had a late night instead of a Saturday or vice versa.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you think docs have like a little bit of that? It’s like that hazy mentality? Like I went through it I put in my time therefore you you need to.
Becca Starks: I think it could be a little of that. Me not being an optometrist. I have to tread lightly because I have not earned my dues. But in the conversations that I’ve had, I think it is a little bit of that at least.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I worked weekends for 23 years. I’ve never missed it Saturday. I’ve never called out sick. And now I’m going to change my whole practice because this 24-year-old kid doesn’t want to work, like there’s that so what are the students are the new grads thinking about these practice owners, doctors who are in a different demographic from them because there’s got to be misconceptions going that way also.
Becca Starks: Yeah, I don’t get to hear a ton of the misconceptions from the student side. But I think there’s just both sides can teach each other something right like maybe that student can come in and show this business owner who’s been doing this forever, like, wow, I could totally do this differently. And, wow, I’m kind of relieved that you came in and brought up the idea of work-life balance because I as the business owner, really needed that, and wow, my life is different because of it and vice versa. There’s obviously so much that the practice owner can teach and pour into these new grad optometrists. But as far as misconceptions from them, I haven’t heard any to be honest.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I hear that they look at a private practice. They think they’re not going to be paid as much. So they’re thinking that not necessarily that the owner is cheap, but that it’s not. It’s not as profitable, therefore there’s not as much money in it for them. You didn’t mention the mode of practice. You talked about location, work-life balance, and pay. Are students coming out looking for commercial opportunities? Are they looking for private practice or looking for MD offices? I mean, obviously, students are looking for each of those, but what are you seeing most frequently?
Becca Starks: Yeah, great question. So motor practice is very important and private practice remains. Top of the list for I’d say close to 90% of the new grads.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Serious?
Becca Starks: Yeah, because I hear the same thing. I hear a lot from private practice owners that say that almost come to the call with me very nervous, like “Becca, what’s going on? Why might all the new grads want private equity and why do they want retail? And can I really afford to hire them? Because it sounds like they’re throwing all the money in the world with them.” And then it’s interesting because we have that ear with the students to hear what they’re looking for. They’re very, very few students that we’re working with, with the class of 2023 that will even consider an opportunity that is not private practice. So there’s just a handful of folks that have said all maybe look at private equity or retail, but the vast majority say I truly, truly, truly want to private practice and there’s even a really good group that says, “Not only do I only one a private practice, but I already know that someday I want to partner slash buy this practice as well.”
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Do you think though that it’s, it’s like self-selecting a little bit because retail opportunities are so easy to come by? That they might not even consider needing to work with a company like yours? They just need to go on Ziprecruiter, Indeed, and type in optometrists job and the geography they want and they have their choice. Are you talking to them before they’re job-seeking?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so we actually start a process with them a year before they graduate. And so we have them fill out a profile with us it looks just like a LinkedIn profile, but it’s specifically for KMK, and go in and select all of the different types of practices that they’re open to. And so, we have both from the data from what they input on their profile and then they all have a one-on-one call with a career advisor as well. And so that’s where those points come from, both in the data they enter and then the conversations they have with a career advisor.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And is that when a student should be starting their job search is early in fourth year?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so we were really surprised in the timeline as well that a lot of students start having conversations about the fall before they graduate. So this class of 2023 they were starting interviews, October timeframe, and then a lot of them were during their Christmas break, timeframe holiday break, going on visits to practice owners. And then as soon as the New Year transitioned over there were many that were in contract. So definitely, Fall time is like you can feel good. About yourself being ahead of the game, wintertime is still very safe, you still have a lot of opportunity to be reaching out to candidates, and then as we enter into more of the springtime, a lot of I’d say probably half if not more of those that we’re working with are 100% in contract ready to go.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: When you start working with them. Is there any issue with students who are starting the search and still haven’t passed their boards or won’t have the credentials to work when they graduate?
Becca Starks: Yeah, Yep. There is information from ASCO also about passage rates. And it goes into detail even of school by school, but it essentially shows year over year the decrease in passage rates, and I think we’re at about 70% passage rate, right now. 73%. And so there’s a huge population of students that don’t pass typically it’s part one where the struggle is and so there are some students that will even graduate and still have not passed boards. And another misconception there is, “Oh, these students are lazy or they’re not understanding the information, and I don’t want those students because they won’t be good doctors”. And completely not true. Those are students that could either be not very good test takers. These are also the population that came into optometry school right in the heart of COVID. There are some that have just had really rough life events around the time that it is to take boards and so but they are all great people that will be great doctors, they simply just need to pass this test. Many of them have had really great GPAs some of them have other degrees that help them with the practice management side and so it’s just a matter of getting past that one test or many of them.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And how does, how did they navigate that with the job contract like, will an employer sign something with a student who hasn’t yet passed boards?
Becca Starks: Yes, we are running into that actually part one. Board scores were just released this past week. And it was a lot of that there was a lot of celebration and there was a lot of sadness around those that didn’t pass. And the good news is, I don’t know that I’ve come across a single employer partner that we work with that isn’t at least open to the idea of bringing on someone that’s graduated in kind of a super tech role. It’s kind of how we position it to practice under that optometrist owner until they graduate and we even have some that say, “Hey KMK I know that you, as an organization, do great at coaching them and helping them after they fail boards.” I will even invest in that side of the house to ensure that they can pass boards not only to show that, hey, I believe in you and the hardest time in your life student but also that gains them a really loyal employee that again, is going to be a great doctor has just had trouble taking this one test.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Coming in as a super tech though, obviously, they’re coming in at a lower pay scale and they would come in as an optometrist, and they have those student loans. So let’s talk about compensation of obviously it’s going to vary around the country and regionally and how many hours and all of that but what is it that a new OD is looking for as far as the ability to earn money?
Becca Starks: Yeah, good question. So, specifically with this new grad population, the way that I kind of coach, the employer partners that we work with private practice owners is, a lot of times they’ll come into the call and say why pay 16% of production, but with this new grad population, they aren’t able to really wrap their brains around what that is, you could have a $1.5 million, your practice and they still just don’t, they can’t really understand that. And so the recommendation that we give is to at least have some sort of salary and we have information and concrete data on specific areas of the nation. So by all means, if, if we can support you in any way with that, I’m happy to to make sure that you’re competitive, but having some type of salary listed up front is what’s going to entice these new grad population because they can wrap their brains around 140,000. They can’t necessarily wrap their brains around 16% of production. And so totally understand, then obviously the argument private practice owner, I hear you what’s going on in your head is. “Well, I need to motivate them to work hard. Like if I just give them a salary, then what’s the motivation to work hard”, and so there’s been kind of this really nice avenue that we’ve taken with a lot of partners that’s worked well in that advertising a salary a little higher than you probably would have normally, but then decreasing to a really low percent of production, so that there’s some salaries that’s there that’s enticing to a new grad, but a lower percent of production. So for the first year only, so year one higher salary and lower percent of production, and then having that shift for year two and year beyond your two to a lower salary, higher percent of production. And so what that does is again, entices this new grad to apply, and even want to learn more about your practice because there’s a salary, but that little bit of percent of production will get them to realize in their first year of working well. I’m doing the math, and if I would have went on the percent of production, I probably would have made more than my salary. This is making sense this is motivating me to work harder. And then again, you can even have it in the contract that upon year two that shifts to a lower salary that’s guaranteed and a higher percent of production. So as they’ve gotten their feet wet, they’ve learned they’ve been mentored that first year shifting then into percent of production.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So you’re coaching your doctors to do a salary plus a percent of production?
Becca Starks: Yeah, that’s pretty typical.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what about benefits and stuff like that is that important? Yes, it is important. Is that something that a brand new grad is going to give enough importance to that it’s going to help them decide one place versus another?
Becca Starks: Yeah, such a good question. So I’ll give both sides just agree very important. I would say the majority of private practice owners that we’re working with are offering some sort of benefits, whatever that might look like. Some are very comprehensive, some are very “Hey, we will pay 50% of your medical and leave it at that.” But now that we are in this lane of there is competition from private equity and from retail. Those are just a no-brainer. In those avenues. And so to remain competitive from that regard. They will get a full package of 401K’s with matching with benefits with PTO, all of those things, if they’re considering a retailer or a private equity opportunity in comparison to your private practice opportunity. And so, again, I think most I talked to very few that say “Hey, I’m just percent of production and I don’t give any days off you just you if you’re here you make money if you’re not, you don’t but you can take whatever days you want type of thing”. I have a handful of those but for the most part, most private practices are offering the salary with percent of production, at least something towards medical, and then most do have a 401K whether there’s a match or not with that.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Are there other intangible benefits, other things that would make a practice more attractive?
Becca Starks: Yeah. So I think the thing that’s so such a great opportunity with all of the listeners that would have that are trying to hire than our private practice owners that have been doing this for years to a new grad specifically is mentorship. And so those that are willing to do that are excited about that. Well, maybe “Hey, I haven’t really even thought about that. But I’m gonna share over the last 20 years, I really have learned a lot that I could pour into this next upcoming generation”. And so being very vocal with that, even in a job description, or whatever it is that you’re creating, to entice candidates to come your way and some people put a really extensive plan behind, “Hey, we have a weekly meeting, and you get lunch hour with me every week and we will cover XYZ and some it’s kind of informal of just “Hey, I’m going to be with you I’m alongside you. You can call me when you want”, whatever that looks like, or even if you haven’t, some team members that are fairly recent grads, being able to vocalize that to have hey, we’ve got folks that I brought on board as new grads and couple years later looking them go and so the mentorship side is again that intangible free opportunity that I think a lot of people don’t even necessarily recognize they have the ability to give.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Is it mostly clinical mentorship they’re looking for? is it practice ownership? like when you say mentorship, what are they hoping to learn from you?
Becca Starks: Yeah, definitely medical at the top of that, but there are again, those those candidates that just know that they know that they want to be very involved in the practice management, the business side of the house. And so for those candidates that are interested in it, being willing to say “Hey, here’s I’ll show you all of our programs and all of our software and how I design the day and this is how I designed the business side of the house”, and so in those situations for folks that are interested in that side, I think it’s important to have just kind of an open door policy of “I’ll show you all that. I’ll show you that number. So I’ll let you in on this.”
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: So for practice in a particular geographic area, if you can get your salary and benefits close, but they don’t necessarily have to be higher. They just have to be within range and you can kind of check off all the other boxes. Is there a type of practice like heavy medical versus refractive versus specialty that people are looking for?
Becca Starks: Yeah, so definitely looking at highly medical. And then what I would also say is kind of another somewhat intangible, but if practice owners are open to new specialties that maybe you don’t have in your practice right now. But hey, if there’s somebody who comes in and is passionate about whatever it may be, and they want to bring that into my practice, that’s a really enticing thing for a candidate to really see themselves. They’re in the long haul of “Wow, I’m passionate about myopia management and this practice says, by all means bringing that on.” That’s such a great thing to be able to offer to a candidate and so definitely, medical and specialties are really where the candidates are wrapping their brains around of how do I see myself there.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And what if you’re in rural Wisconsin, where there’s just not a huge population of optometrists looking to settle? What’s the best way for a practice like that to set themselves up to find somebody to join because so many of those are great opportunities to become part of a community to ultimately partner buy a practice have a really low cost of living like it’s how do they make themselves attractive or show how attractive they are I guess I should say.
Becca Starks: Yeah, and I think that so often because I get the luxury of talking to these practice owners in some of these more rural areas. And every time I’m just like, Wow, if I could just record this and let all of these candidates see this owner care about the type of patients they get to see a lot of times it’s the smaller communities that because there’s not a nearby ophthalmology or another office like those are the most medically focused practices.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Absolutely.
Becca Starks: Yeah. And so, so often I feel better. Oh my gosh, if I could just package this up and get a candidate to truly wrap their head around it. So one of the things that we do on the candidate side is our current advisors do as soon as a student comes in and says, “I only want Miami in New York and LA”, we try to mentor as well and show your kind of cost of living and let’s truly take a look at this and let’s look at your lifestyle and look at
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Miami, LA, how about rural Wisconsin?
Becca Starks: Right? Yep.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And consider Minnesota.
Becca Starks: Exactly. We play that game all day long. Yep. And then to the practice owners, a lot of what I tell them is, they’ll tell me I say they get to brag. So give me your brag book, when they come on as a partner to me, tell me what’s so great about your practice. And then they’re typically ready to end the call and I say, “Okay, based on your area, we also want you to brag on the geographic location just as much as the opportunity and so getting a candidate to truly understand what their life is going to be like, not just when they’re at work with you all day, but once they leave work, and what does this community look like and what can I do there? Is it great for hiking, is it great for the music scene, and the art scene? Is it great to raise a family and maybe I’m not thinking about that right now. But in the next couple of years, I will be.” And so I always say “Somewhere in your job description, however, you want to do it. It’s a post that you’re putting on to kind of an Indeed or an AOA. Having information, just typed information about your geographic area and what makes it so great. And then also, the other added thing you can do is you can always create videos.” Videos are I feel like that’s kind of how we’re all digesting content at this point. And especially this generation of these new grads, and so if you can even do a quick it doesn’t have to be professionally shot but videos of you just speaking informally, almost as if you’re speaking to a candidate who wouldn’t be right in front of you talking about again, envisioning their life there, the more that a practice owner can make a job description or job post about the candidate instead of themselves. The better that that’s going to relay to the candidates have just really getting to understand “Okay, this isn’t what I thought I was thinking Miami, but now I can kind of envision how my life could be in Wisconsin.”
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: That’s a really strong and valid point. Because when I think about a job ad, it’s all about what we need and what we want. We’re looking for an optometrist to work these hours to do this and when I’m interviewing candidates for Associate optometrist, but really for any position I’m always sensitive to an applicant, who all they’re telling me is what this job is going to do for them. Right. So I’m very critical of it as an employer when they’re like, I’m looking to build my clinical confidence in myopia. I’m looking into, you know, whatever. And I think what are you going to do for me? But in the ad, maybe it should be the other way off, Here’s what I’m going to do for you so that they’re interested and intrigued by the post enough to then come in and want to tell me what they are going to do for me so
Becca Starks: Absolutely
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Cool.
Becca Starks: We even have one it’s a Power Practice member that wrote a personalized it looks just like a letter you would receive from your grandma in the mail and it was so different and so eye-catching and so engaging. It was truly just a personalized letter, Dear Candidate, and then it just spoke really informally like, Hey, I get it. Words are hard, school is hard, but here’s what it would be like living here. Imagine if you could leave work and go out and do this, this, and this and your two hours within this big city so you can go catch a basketball game and be back home at night. And so it was just very, again trying to get that candidate to envision their life not only with that practice but in that geographical location. And so that was an incredible example.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Did it work?
Becca Starks: We’ve gotten some interest. We don’t have anybody signed on yet, but it has enticed interest.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: And talked about KMK a little bit again, just before we close. So if a practice owner is looking for an associate, they can reach out to you or how do they go about tapping into this database network matching service that you guys have?
Becca Starks: Yeah, absolutely. Yep. I would be the point of contact Becca Starks. And I’m sure you can put my email in the show notes, but it’s just Becca@kmkodcareers.com. And yeah, we typically just do a really informal introductory call and learn about the practice, learn about what they’re looking for. And then go over kind of our offerings. We’ve got two different offerings to choose from, just depending on what the practice owner is looking for. And then yeah, we just go from there. It’s really simple. It’s free to be in agreement with us and having us promote a practice. And so basically, we get that agreement going and then our current adviser starts promoting any of our partners that we’re working with. And then essentially once we have a student that is a great fit, we play the matchmaking game.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I love it. Thank you. I think this is valuable information for new grads to help them understand what they’re going out into and some of the misconceptions they might be facing. But hopefully, we did our part today to try and reduce some of those and really give today’s employers a more real picture of new grads who are looking for jobs. So thank you so much for taking the time to do this and give this service to all of the optometrists out there.
Becca Starks: Absolutely. My pleasure, Bethany. Thank you. So much.
Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Thank you
Read the Transcription
Ryan Robison: Again, it’s just building top-of-mind awareness, social engagement, so people think of us otherwise. It’s not like we’re really getting anything out of this in the context of saying, can we look and see, is our schedule more full, are we selling more glasses, are we selling more dry eye treatments? No, but it’s kind of a fun twist to the usual daily routine.
Bethany Fishbein: Hey, this is Bethany Fishbein, and I am the CEO of The Power Practice, host of the Power Hour Optometry Podcast. And we’re talking a little bit outside the box today with a practice owner whose practice is very often outside the box or on the edge of the box at least.
So I am happy to welcome my guest, Dr. Ryan Robison. He is one of the partners of Southwest Vision, which is an amazing optometry practice in St. George, Utah. They’ve won Best of the Southern Utah five years in a row, and have done all kinds of other cool things that we’ll talk about a little bit. So Ryan, thank you so much for agreeing to join me here.
Ryan Robison: Thanks for having us. I appreciate it.
Bethany Fishbein: My pleasure. So the big one that we want to talk about this week is the solar eclipse that’s happening, I guess, up and down the not quite West Coast, the almost West Coast of the country.
Ryan Robison: They call it the North America annular eclipse. It’s going to cross over a good part of several states. So it’s not just limited to the West Coast. And there’s websites you can go to to see where the path is going to be in your location and how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to witness. If you’re in the path of the full eclipse versus just 90% or 80% of the total eclipse. So for us, oh man, I can’t remember what year it was exactly, 2016, we were right near the epicenter for what they call a ring of fire eclipse, where the moon sitting right in the center of the sun, leaving just this very edge of the sun all the way around, it’s termed the ring of fire.
The epicenter was just maybe 30 miles north of St. George. So we were primed for this location or right near the epicenter. So we weren’t thinking much about it as far as, oh, sure, we’ll order 500 eclipse glasses to have for patients that want some and sell them for not much. It’s not like we’re trying to really crank out some profits here with these solar eclipse glasses. So I think we may have sold them for two bucks a piece. But what happened is we were leading up to this major event, just getting word out through our social media, maybe through the radio advertising that we already had. We just switched our ad out to announce the solar eclipse glasses were available.
We quickly sold out of the 500 eclipse glasses we had. So we put in an order for, I don’t remember what we did, maybe a thousand, because it was still a week away. Then it became very clear that that was going to be selling out super fast. We put in another order for maybe 5,000 eclipse glasses. And now we needed to rush the shipment because now we’re into the week of the eclipse. Those were obviously going to sell really fast. By the end of the week or nearing the eclipse, our phone call with our vendor was, how many eclipse glasses do you have in your warehouse? And we’ll take them. And how fast can you get them to us? And when everything was said and done, we had ordered 19,000 eclipse glasses and literally had sold them all. And we had people calling from Las Vegas, which is two hours south of us because they’re trying to get to the epicenter and we’re right there close to it.
And we had people coming up from Las Vegas that were saying, you guys are the only ones that have eclipse glasses. We’re calling around everywhere in Vegas and the word is you’ve got to come up to Southwest Vision to get them. So it was really kind of unique and fun and crazy. It got so crazy, we had to temporarily hire friends and family to come in and answer phone calls for us because there were so many calls coming in just about the eclipsers. Do you have them? How much are they? Someone to man the table by the front door of the office for people that are just coming in to buy solar eclipse glasses. So it just really put a fun twist into the normal day to day stuff we do, obviously create a little bit of hype for our clinic, obviously around the eclipse.
Then we tried to just roll with it with anything that was happening with eclipses. So Venus transit, a Jupiter transit where you can actually witness that little speck of the planet Jupiter crossing in front of the sun and make those dates and times known to people and still have eclipse glasses available for people who want to see that.
Bethany Fishbein: It’s such a cool thing because I remember, I think I had met you after that. It was like a year after that or something and you’re reviewing practice financials and you had this random line item of like $25,000 of income that you said, okay, this isn’t something we’re going to repeat every year. But it stuck with me. So a couple of years ago, I don’t remember what year it was either. I feel like it was before the pandemic, so maybe 2019, we had a solar eclipse that was going to be here on the East Coast. And so I was inspired by your success and talked my skeptical practice into, let’s just get a thousand, same thing, not 19,000, same thing.
Although it felt like by that point we could have. Doing really different things like that and being willing to take a chance really does some unique things for the practice. I mean, even though every patient is different, every interaction is different, a lot of times for staff, it’s a similar job day to day. And so having something was just different, especially if that just different thing is requiring additional people to handle the volume of phone calls and people walking up to your office. What are the other fringe benefits that you saw besides, obviously, the dollar income per eclipse glasses?
Ryan Robison: Certainly it’s talk about word of mouth, advertising in the context of getting your name out there and being maybe top of mind with more people than you otherwise would have impacted or connected with. We had a local paper that had reached out to us and I’m trying to think how it even happened because it wasn’t something that we instigated. Certainly you could do a PR piece, put the word out in the newspaper that you’re providing solar eclipse glasses, safety and anything that we would have put out in our newsletter, email out to patients, letting them know. Viewing safety for the eclipse, you really need to have protective eyewear, very specific eyewear, regular sunglasses won’t work. And just building that educational piece of public service announcement.
Anyway, the newspaper had done an article on the eclipse and took a picture of our optical manager, Suzanne, wearing an eclipser looking in the sun. And so whenever we’ve referenced that online article, there’s Suzanne’s picture with her wearing the eclipser that’s archived in the paper’s online archives. So that was kind of a fun little twist too. But for us, the other benefit that became is whenever we have applied for what’s called the best of state award for the state of Utah, part of their application process is describe ways you’re innovative, describe ways that you’re contributing to the community. So now it becomes like a resume builder for the clinic to say, here’s an example of how we’re innovative. And here’s an example of how we integrate in the community. So now here we are on the verge of another annual eclipse and now our attempt to at least just be a source for eclipse glasses.
The twist for us this year is we reached out to the manufacturer to place another order and they were starting a new program to be an affiliate vendor for their product. And so they’ve basically given us our own unique link that we send out. So part of our email blast, our social media blast to say, hey, we have solar eclipse glasses. Here’s the date of the next one. Stop in while supplies last, or you can order online and here’s the link. And so we’ve had a handful of patients that have gone through the link and ordered in advance. The hard part for that is that they’re going to have to order a minimum of probably 25 solar eclipses to place an order, as opposed to just stop in and buy three or four or however many they felt like they might need. But it’s just another tool to be of service and value and in some regards, top of mind again when people hopefully now think of eclipses, they think of Southwest Vision.
Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. And it definitely, for us when we did it, gave us some warm fuzzies. These people told us, oh, we were out in whatever park and all the people with eclipse glasses, so many of them, they came from you. So that was neat to know that that was a topic of conversation for people. Where did you get your eclipse glasses?
Ryan Robison: And people were very appreciative, especially with the one that just started it all. But it’s such a unique thing. It’s not something that people are supposed to be prepared to view an eclipse properly. So okay, where do we get those? Are they readily available? Not necessarily. For the most part, you might be able to pick some up here or there, but there’s not a reliable local source that you can. So part of our goal has been, let’s just make sure we order enough that we don’t run out. So that part is that going to be for us to do, to order enough that we don’t run out.
And the fact that there’s another eclipse in April, gives us some freedom to say, we can order more than we think we might need. Because any overstock, we’re going to just hold on to until April. And we want to buy in bulk so we get that profit margin benefit of selling $2 a piece. And instead of paying $1.50 for 250 or 500 eclipses at a time, we’ll just buy the largest quantity and get the best deal.
Bethany Fishbein: Awesome. And I love that you’ve used this as evidence, I guess, or resume builder, as you said, of innovation. Because your practice is all about innovation. Talk about some of the things that make your practice unique compared to so many other eyecare offices out there.
Ryan Robison: The thing that stands out the most for our practice is Dr. Gooch. Paul Gooch is the king of innovation, thinking outside the box, doing things different. And for the most part, I would say that kind of sets the tone for the most part of what we do. And he’s great at giving freedom to me and to the rest of the practice to think outside of the box.
Bethany Fishbein: I think he’s not as much about doing things different as he is about not doing things the same.
Ryan Robison: That is true. Part of our approach in some regards is just to be different. Not necessarily on purpose, but it’s just a little bit of maybe how we think and how we roll. So some of the things that we’ve just done to be different and that we felt like would be a fun thing to do, that we’re in the middle of right now, and that’s our photo contest. We have a calendar that we have created that’s customized to us, Southwest Vision. And we have a photo contest, we’re probably on our eighth year of doing a photo contest. And we have dubbed it, Show Us Your Southwest Vision, to have a playoff of our office name, Southwest Vision.
Our photo contest is to the public. Show us your Southwest Vision. So we’ll get photos of the area where people recreate, some of their favorite spots, even if it’s just really around their house. So we’ll get a variety of photos and we’ll get some that are professional photographers and a lot of amateur photographers, and then some that are just not photographers per se, but everybody with a mobile smartphone now is a photographer. So a lot of the submissions are from ones people have taken from their cell phones. But the longest time we do a spring contest and then a fall contest, we pick a winner. And then part of the fun with that is we change what the grand prize is that we’re giving away and we’ll try and have a handful of things.
One thing consistent from Southwest Vision is that we’ll give a Maui gym to the winner up to $300, whatever they want to pick. And then we reached out to a couple of local businesses. One of them is a local printer and they provide a canvas print. So I’ll take you on a little tour here of the office maybe while we walk. So one of the things that the local printer will do is they’ll do a canvas print of the winning picture. And so we give the winner of that particular contest, their picture on canvas, and then we’ll turn around and then we’ll make one for our office that has their name and the location of where that was at.
And so the one that we’re doing right now, we arranged with a hot air balloon pilot to do a balloon ride for two as the grand prize. And then we’ll take, I’m bringing you around to show you our wall of winners for our calendar. So we’ll take the photo contest for the year, whatever we’ve done, and we’ll narrow it down so we have 12 winning pictures, and then we’ll make them part of the calendar.
So here when patients come into the office, they see the wall of photos that are part of this year’s calendar. And so this wall will change every year to the new 12 pictures. And then we’ll put throughout the office, just rotate the scenery, so to speak, of what is being displayed in the hallways. And so you’ll see on the opposite hallway, we’ll just kind of rotate what those pictures are so that as patients are checking in, checking out, they have a different view of what scenery. And obviously we live in a very scenic place, so there’s a lot of pictures to describe and showcase Southwest vision.
That’s just been a fun, and we don’t get anything out of that in the context of other than we’ve got some incredible photos that people have basically contributed to be part of the contest. Part of their submission agreement is that they’re giving us the right to use it for marketing purposes like our calendar. And so we’ll get some professional photographers that that’s not the game they play, and they don’t want to give up the rights to their photo. And that’s obviously okay, but we give other people a chance to win prizes to be part of a calendar and kind of help get their photos noticed.
Bethany Fishbein: How many submissions do you get when you do in the fall or the spring?
Ryan Robison: So it varies. I would say a big part of it depends on what the grand prizes that we’re giving away. One of the first years we did it, the radio station was helping sponsor it. And so they were giving away two tickets to Las Vegas to see Maroon 5 in concert. So we got a lot of participation with that one. That’s probably been the biggest one we ever had. The one we did this year was a little bit different. We’re not doing two different photo contests, we’re only doing one, but we had it for the entire summer. So we drew the contest out longer than we normally would have. And so we got 170 photo submissions to sort through and narrow down and we’re in the process right now, narrowing down our top 24 photos to create what’s going to be in the calendar and the top vote is going to be our winner of the balloon ride grand prize.
Bethany Fishbein: Who does the judging?
Ryan Robison: The office staff will do the primary judging. So we as an office, I sent it out, I’ve used an app on my service for voting and polling to show them, here’s 50 pictures, just pick the ones you think look best and we’ll narrow it down. Round one, round two, round three, and we’ll just narrow it down until, in this case, we had the top 24. And now what we’re doing is we’re having social media engagement for the next six days. We just started it today. The next six days, there’s four photos to pick, A, B, C, or D, pick your favorite one.
And before my staff left, Carrie is one of our staff that helps with our social media stuff. We posted that probably about one o’clock, two o’clock. So in the last five hours, there’s been about 30 votes on which one they want. And part of our approach with this one, just to be fun and different, is, hey, if you vote every day, we’ll put your name into a drawing to win a hard box Visa card, just for playing our game and helping us pick a winner. Just try and be creative and find a fun way to engage with our social media sites. And again, it’s just building top of mind awareness, social engagement, so people think of us.
Otherwise, it’s not like we’re really getting anything out of this in the context of saying, can we look and see, is our schedule more full? Are we selling more glasses? Are we selling more dry eye treatments? No, but it’s kind of a fun twist to the usual daily routine. And patients love it. We’ll make the calendar at the end of the year. We’ll make 500 calendars and first come, first serve while supplies last, we’ll do about 500 calendars. And we’ll get patients that are wanting their calendar, they’ll come in looking for it. And it’s just fun, different.
Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. Are the people who send in photos, your patients, or typically it’s people from the community who aren’t yet?
Ryan Robison: Both. We certainly market to our patients because they’re in our database for the email marketing, or they follow us on social media, but then there’s going to be other people that have followed us for different reasons. And so we push out to the community to vote. In fact, we’ll buy some social media ads on Facebook or Instagram to just reach out to this age group demographic in our regional area and have a paid advertisement to try and pick up more followers and more engagement that way.
Bethany Fishbein: So has it ever come to a discussion of like, all right, this is a lot of work. There’s not much in it for us. We’re not making money. We’re too busy for this?
Ryan Robison: Yes, yes and yes. For now, the photo contest, it has its moments. And that’s one of the reasons why we just did one this year instead of two. When we did two, it was putting us on a really tight time schedule. And so it was a real challenge to devote the time needed to run it and not feel like it was taking away from the day-to-day operations. But that particular question is something we really fought with on another activity we did. And that was our Sunglass Sun Expo.
We ran a sunglass sale. We started out as a three-day event. We’d bring in discontinued sunwear. We’d have vendors come to showcase their sunglasses, Maui Gym, Oakley, Columbia, and some of our other vendors as well, Tura, Silhouette. And we did it for nine years. And it evolved over time as well. It went from three days to two days to just one day. And then we just reached that threshold of asking all of those questions. About the ninth year, we said, it just isn’t worth it anymore.
Bethany Fishbein: I mean, what’s interesting about that compared to the eclipse glasses, which is kind of a one-time thing in a photo calendar, it feels like a sunglass sale is much easier to measure the financial impact. When you were doing it big, and it was a couple of days, you guys had a tent outside, you had a radio station broadcasting. It was a big thing.
Ryan Robison: It was. So we would. We would have, we’re doing hot dogs for lunch, stop and pick up some food, just finding ways to try and get people to stop in. The timing of it also hit with Iron Man in St. George. We thought that would actually be maybe a benefit because we’re having more activity in St. George for different reasons. It was one more thing on top of an already busy weekend in St. George for that particular scenario. So it didn’t help that we were piggybacking off of Iron Man weekend. But in the end, we felt like we, in an attempt to provide quality sunglasses for reasonable prices, you know, discontinued closeout for whatever we were able to provide to patients on that day, it did require a lot of time and energy and cost for production of the radio and the 20 by 20 tent and the food. And in the end, whatever we said we could sell, was it worth it? And how many new patients did we get out of it? And in the end, we said, it’s not paying for itself and it’s not building the brand in a way that we felt like was worth it.
So we, after nine years, we dropped it. Conversely, I’d probably say the first three or four years, we felt like it was. We were getting response, but it just lost its effectiveness. And we’ve seen that before. It’s kind of trial and error when you try new things. So one of the things we started doing, we felt like was really helpful, was a local event called What Women Want Expo. And I’m sure all major cities have something like that. They also have another one here in St. George called What Seniors Want. So we would have a booth at those expos and we felt like the first five or six years, man, this is great. We’re recruiting new patients. And after that five or six years, I think what happened is the newness of us being at the event and people coming. At first, we were new to them, but by year three and four and beyond, we were the same vendor they saw every time. And there wasn’t a value to engage with them every single year in that expo. So we stopped doing it after probably six or seven years.
Same with this What Seniors Want Expo. It just ran its course of effectiveness. And you have to ask those questions that you brought up. Is it worth the time, energy and effort? And what are we getting out of it? And in the end, we said, OK, we’re done.
Bethany Fishbein: I think that’s the game, though, that a lot of people don’t realize or maybe lose sight of is like, that’s the whole advantage of being small business is that you can try something. And if it works well enough, you try it again. And if it stops working, you stop doing it and you find something else. I think a lot of people get stuck in their heads a little bit or stuck in the, well, what are we going to have if we have a table at an expo? And would it work? What if it doesn’t work? And I think that’s something that is unique to your practice of just being willing to try it and just do.
Ryan Robison: And our staff’s been pretty good. Certainly the doctors as well, Gooch and Drake. They’re flexible and trying different things. So we’ll play around with different ideas. I can’t remember how it came up. I think I had seen an email or something for doggles, sunglasses for dogs.
We’re in southern Utah. We’ve got a good population for animal lovers and it’s sunny outside. So why not? So we brought in some doggles just to see if there’d be any interest. The interest was so minute. It really didn’t do anything. But we signed up to be a vendor, I think, two years in a row, just to make it fun and different at a pet festival at a senior retirement community that’s pretty large in St. George. There’s probably 3,000 plus residents in this retirement community. And they had a pet festival. So we said, hey, we’ll be a vendor and we’ll take our doggles and we’ll just engage the conversation about eyewear safety. Anyway, so that was another way of being fun and different. And it’s like, what are you guys doing here? You’re in an eye clinic.
Bethany Fishbein: There’s not that much to lose. Like whatever your initial investment in doggles, you paid for the booth. And it’s being out there and having those conversations with people that maybe it’s not immediate, but six months later, eight months later, 12 months later, they need an eye doctor. And they remember those guys from the pet expo and they seemed funny. And worst case, your own dogs are the best dressed in town with their eyewear collections. Talk about the Senior Games Health Screening that you’ve done because that’s unique.
Ryan Robison: Yeah. So that’s one that we have maintained over the years. It’s not as strong of a lead collector for us. Huntsman Senior Games is the name of it. It’s a Olympic event for seniors. And so they market worldwide. They draw in seniors, especially in the region. Everyone’s traveling to St. George, but it’s a pretty big event for St. George. And we will get people from all over the world literally coming to St. George.
They have a health screening as part of their service to all of the athletes that come. And so they look for clinics to provide different parts of their health screenings. When they reached out to us to provide a vision screening, this is where Dr. Gooch comes in to play in the context of we’re not going to go and just check pressures.
We’re not going to give people the false sense of security that, oh, your pressures are okay, therefore you don’t have glaucoma because that’s not necessarily true. You might have normal pressures and still have glaucoma. From the get-go, he said, if we’re going to do this, then we’re going to do it different. And we’re going to take pictures of the inside of the eye. So we’ll take our fundus camera down.
And is there a way we can do this? So as we talked with the host of the health fair, arrangements were made so that we could have a dark corner. We have our fundus camera in there. And we’re busy from 8 to 5 taking pictures. And we used to have three days we would do it. But again, time, energy, and effort to be away from the clinic, it’s tough.
So we commit to just one day of their, I think, seven-day health fair that we will do fundus photos on one day. And people are just enthralled because they’ve never seen the picture of their eye before, vast majority. And it’s funny, you’ll get people, there are some definite things that you can see and talk with them about.
And obviously, we’re just educating about macular degeneration, glaucoma, if they look suspicious, if they’ve had their eyes in. How long has it been since your last eye exam? A lot of them are overdue. It’s funny because a lot of them have already had their eye exam or they are consistent with a six-month check because they’ve been told they have glaucoma or they’ve been told they have macular degeneration. And they’re coming in to the health screening because they just wanted to know if they were being told correctly from their doctor that they really do have glaucoma or macular degeneration.
And this is where it’s one of those community service that you just walk away from that. The people are so gracious for the service. And you’re meeting all of these just incredibly gracious, happy seniors. And it’s a feel-good. You walk away from that from a feel-good. You just took pictures on 120 people and your mouth’s completely dried out because you’re talking so fast to everybody. And maybe one or two of them live in the area and are looking for a new provider. And certainly, we have our business card there. But the vast majority of who we see and what we’re doing is out of the area. But it’s just one of those ways of providing a service that’s unique and different because no one else is going to take a picture of the inside of the eye if they go to a health screening.
Bethany Fishbein: Talk about some of the stuff you’ve done internally because the things we’ve talked about so far are really for the community. And some of your patients kind of take advantage also. But it’s about creating, I guess, a picture of what your office is for the greater community. Within your practice, you’ve done cool stuff too. I know there is a time that you did a focus group for people. What was the deal with that?
Ryan Robison: So we were on the verge of needing to make a change to what we call our gallery. We kind of talk about our office, the retail side of it, the medical side of it. But we call our retail area the gallery. And the way we display our frames is not on a typical frame board. We’ve got some antique furniture. The frames are laying out on the countertops of the antique furniture or the tables that are out there, which makes it hard to display.
And that’s one of the feedbacks that came from our focus group is patients really like that frame board look. But we were looking at changing frame brands. And so the opticians were wanting to do a couple of possible frame brands. And for whatever reason, we just thought, let’s do a focus group. Let’s invite, I can’t remember what it was, 20 or 30 people who were really looking for their opinion, people that are great patients, people who may not be patients, but we know because of Facebook or Instagram in the area, we really are wanting to have their insight because of their fashion sense, what they think would be good for us to have. So we got goodie bags for them all. It’s been long enough.
I can’t remember what we gave to each of them. It was probably about $100 worth of stuff, gift cards and swag to send them home with, thank you for your time, refreshments. And then we created a slideshow basically like PowerPoint and put it on our big screen TV out there and walked through, we’re looking for your feedback. Here’s five different frame lines, talked about price point, talked about style, talked about men’s, women’s, children’s to try and get a sense of what people were looking for and where their value was for those frames and rank them good, better, best.
That helped guide us on picking out a new frame line, but it also gave us other feedback too that wasn’t specific to frame lines like the frame displays. We knew after that that how we display our frames, we would have to abandon what we have out there for a look and a feel to go back to a vertical frame display, which we didn’t implement, but just getting that feedback is helpful to know. And part of that might also, and I’m trying to remember, Bethany, if you connected me with, I want to say Dennis Jarvis.
Bethany Fishbein: Yes, I did.
Ryan Robison: Okay. So very early on, this is kind of the same idea with Dennis Jarvis. We’re looking for feedback. We think we’re here. We want to know if we really are here or if we’re here, where are we really at and how can we improve? Similar to maybe what Dennis had did for us with a email survey to our entire database, asking some really key questions, giving away Amazon gift cards as an incentive to participate. They had a chance to win. That gave us some incredible feedback on how people think of us, what the barriers were for us to connect with patients, and really has been the driving force of, say, our practice identity since then.
From that, we got this as our tagline, trust your eyes in Southwest Vision. From Dennis’s survey, the key word that came back was trust. And so we changed our tagline to really push and emphasize, thanks for trusting your eyes with us. So that’s just back to that idea of thinking outside the box.
We think we know what we’re doing, but we want to get someone’s outside perspective to help us. And that’s exactly why we hired Power Practice and have stuck with you guys all these years is we think we know, but what we don’t know is really what we’re after.
Bethany Fishbein: Thank you for saying that. It’s something that we talk about, the idea of surveying and ask your patients and they will tell you and be open to that feedback. And I think it’s scary for people. We’ve done it in our practice. And when you hit send on that survey, it is a little bit terrifying. I feel like getting picked for gym class, like you’re just watching. And are they going to come back? And everybody’s going to tell you they hate you.
But I think people are willing to help. And the level of honesty in that feedback can only help you. Even just the idea that you’re someone who asked for that feedback is pretty amazing to people. I imagine people from that focus group telling somebody at their office, where are you going today? Oh, my eye doctor is having a focus group to find out what styles people are interested in. That’s a doctor I want to go to.
Ryan Robison: Well, that’s true, because we try as part of our weekly staff meeting to talk about as examples come up, good customer service, bad customer service, because we don’t want to ever be an example to somebody else of bad customer service.
But to kind of keep in line with what Dennis started for us with all that, we do a monthly email to patients who have been into the clinic, not just new patients. We try and survey basically everybody once a year for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to a local food vendor. And we ask them what was memorable about their visit and what recommendations they would have for us to improve. But we’re using that also as the NPS score on a scale of 1 to 10. So we’re collecting an NPS score every month based off of that survey.
And then we read every month the responses we get, what was memorable, what stood out, and suggestions to improve and for good or for bad. And obviously, most of it is good and gives us opportunity, one, obviously to reinforce what’s working. And when the negative comments come up to address those issues that need improvement.
Bethany Fishbein: It’s really a great way to innovate. And it’s kind of funny. Sometimes innovation can be a brand new thought that nobody else has ever had. Let’s do this. Like you said, the first eclipse, you were the only ones doing this. Now it’s out there. People do it. But I think a lot of times, too, innovation can come from continuing to stick with something that’s tried and true and saying, what else? What else can we do with this feedback? What else can we do to keep getting better, to keep getting better? And obviously, you guys have been incredibly successful at that. It shows in your practice. It shows in your patient feedback. It shows in your recognition from your state and from the people around you.
So I’m so appreciative that you are here and sharing a little bit of this. I hope it inspires someone to take something that they’ve been kind of mulling over and thinking about trying and making the decision, taking the leap and deciding to just do it. Ryan, thank you again for being here. Give your website so people want to see what you’re up to. They can follow you.
Ryan Robison: Oh, sure. So Southwest and we’re about to make a change to our website. So southwestvision.com is our website. And for the probably mid-October, it’s going to change to a new look, just because it’s time for change.
Bethany Fishbein: Awesome. Thank you so much. And for anyone looking for more information on how power practice can help you realize your vision for your practice, you can find us online at powerpractice.com. Thank you.