Would you believe that over 14 million children wear prescription eyeglasses? It seems like a high number, but it is accurate. As the eye doctor, how can you best serve this market segment?
First, look where your practice is located. Is it in a community where there are families? Are you located in an area that has good schools, dance schools, clothing stores, kid friendly salons and other stores that cater to families? In addition to working with pediatricians, family practitioners, and school nurses, these are the businesses that you can you can work with to get the word out that your practice serves children.
Next, it is important to note that typically it is the mother who makes the purchasing decisions in the household. Your marketing should target her and as well the age of the child. For the child is under the age of 14, your marketing should focus on durability and warranties. For those age 14 and older, the focus can be on fashion and style, as well as warranties.
In addition to your marketing mix, does your practice give off a family friendly vibe? Does the waiting area have books and toys for the under 12 crowd? Is there kid-sized furniture in the waiting area? Have you minimized sharp corners and put safety covers on the outlets? Kids and their parents will be at your practice for a while, so they need to be comfortable and entertained.
It is also important to take a look at your frame boards, especially the ones that feature kids’ frames. Will older children (age 7 and up) be able to reach out and pick the frames that they want? Yes, the parent (or at least the family’s insurance) is paying for a portion of the service, but having the frames within a child’s reach makes the buying experience easier for all involved. The kid gets a chance to choose the frames that he or she likes. After all, if the kid likes the frames, then he or she will be more likely to actually wear the glasses.
There is always the worry that a child might not wear the glasses. If a parent expresses concerns along this line, it is good to let them know that kids like to see clearly. Once kids see the difference in their vision with the glasses, they will wear them without any trouble. Still, not all kids are willing to wear glasses, no matter how many choices they are given. This is where a little patient education comes in handy. Explain how glasses help the child to see better, do schoolwork without headaches, see the board in class, and see the ball when playing with friends.
Sometimes, the patient will have crossed or misaligned eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia) and will not wear their glasses. This is where an anatomy lesson is helpful. Explain to both the parent and the child about the condition and why it is necessary to wear glasses. Feel free to use models of the eye and You Tube videos to explain either condition – and what can happen if it is left untreated.
Reaching out to families benefits both the child and your practice. The kids see better, and you may have won a patient for life. The investment in youth is one that will pay dividends for years to come.