I was cleaning out my office a few years ago, and found the October 2012 issue of Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses. I had to leaf through it, mostly to figure out why I’d saved it for so long. There are tons of credible reasons, as that issue is packed with great stuff, including Scleral Lens fitting tips from Dr. Melissa Barnett, Drs. Brujic & Miller’s “Derail Dropouts” CL column, Dr. Katherine Mastrota’s review of OSD treatment technologies, and Drs. Lonsbery & Karpecki discussing Dry Eye Imposters. As I was preparing to part with this publication, the inside back cover caught my attention. Dr. Gary Gerber’s column, “Out of the Box” was titled, “A Man for All Seasons.”
Given his successes with The Power Practice consulting group, Treehouse Eyes, the Power Hour Optometry podcast, and his Rock ‘n’ Roll vibe, Dr. Gerber clearly knows more about marketing than I do. Since the subtitle contained the phrase “market additional services” and this engineer knew very little about marketing at that time, I felt compelled to read that column before tossing it in the glossy-paper-only recycling bin.
That column literally changed my life! It talks about highly seasonal businesses, e.g., Halloween costume stores, ski resorts, etc., which close their doors for large parts of the year. They focus on grabbing as much revenue as possible during their busy season. Then it talks about other seasonal occupations, such as landscapers, who mow lawns & trim bushes in the summer, then convert to shoveling snow, plowing driveways, and hauling firewood in the winter. Who hires them to shovel snow? The same people who hired them to keep their lawns tidy! Genius, right?
How does this apply to my business? TelScreen has been focused on anterior-segment imaging since 1993. The Ophthalmic Equipment industry has a seasonal component to it – tax season. We do about 40% of our business in the last 6 weeks of the year. We spend so much time and energy finding doctors who need the one thing we do better than anyone else. We’re fanatical about building relationships and taking great care of them, so that when they’re buying equipment at the end of the year, there’s a chance that they think of us.
We’re really busy from October through January; however, the closing paragraph helped me see the possibility to do more. “One of the easiest ways to grow your practice is through the happy patients you already have on board. Cut their grass and plow their snow!”
Following Dr. Gerber’s printed advice, I started marketing additional services to all the practices that already have EyeRes digital imaging systems. Fast forward a few years, and I now have long-term contracts with 47 practices in 13 states. My two nephews do their landscaping in the summer, and plow their parking lots in the winter!
Who says engineers don’t listen to advice?
Author’s note: The above is a fictionalized account. The truth is, I was cleaning out my office this afternoon (1/13/2022), and was embarrassed to admit that I had kept a periodical for 9+ years. Why did I keep it that long? It doesn’t even have a Monty Vickers column in it!