You may not want to think about Christmas just yet, but you will be more than aware of the peaks and troughs in trade during the optical year. Read on to find ideas to maximise times when trade may be quieter.
Firstly, consider if a quiet December is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy! Do you see a poor month in the lead up to Christmas and New Year as a fait accompli? What might happen if you treat this as you would any other time of year?
- Digital presence:
- Begin online. Can you do more to showcase your frame ranges, talk about contact lenses, shout about your USPs, educate the customer, make sure that your offers/promotions are appealing and clear?
- Utilise social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook which give you the opportunity to show off happy patients in their new frames.
- Mixi posts that highlight your extensive eyewear selection with posts that feature your practice culture and personality.
- Be available:
- Many optical practices now offer extended hours on evenings and weekends, walk-in appointments, and same day service. These are smart ways to attract today’s customers, who are used to instant gratification and 24/7 access.
- Look at what your town or shopping centre is doing in terms of the run up to Christmas and late nights/extended trading. Can you take advantage of this?
- Reminders/Recalls – bring forward those due in January. This of course has a knock-on effect for +1 year and + 2 years dependent upon recall periods and so is cumulative.
- Remind people that you’re there:
- Increase PR activity – get noticed! Look to see if there are any opportunities for links with local charities and groups
- In slack times, hit the street – leafleting and lens shine activity are great ways of interacting with shoppers in town.
- Window displays – stand out from the crowd. There is always a danger at Christmas that your window looks like that of every retailer around you. Do something different.
- It’s party season! – remind existing customers and potential new ones that they may want an extra pair of glasses to go with that new outfit for the seasonal party. They may want to try contact lenses for a different look. Existing contact lens wearers may want to try coloured lenses for a change.
- Promote sunglasses – they can be a great sale for the patients off for some winter sun overseas.
- Don’t forget sports eyewear for those hitting the ski slopes.
Sale/promotions – do you want to offer a discount/offer to drive more foot fall? You may be in a situation where you wish to push end of season stock to make way for new styles in the New Year.
- Maximise every opportunity in store:
- Maximise each patient interaction – discuss everything from eyewear needs to eye health history to lifestyle behaviours, even factors like face shape and eye colour.
- With these considerations in mind, you can gather a curated set of frame options for patients to try on until they find their ideal fit.
- Utilise those ad-hoc opportunities, e.g. patients coming in to have an adjustment, repair etc, is there an additional purchase they may wish to make? Perhaps a gift or something for themselves.
- Time to plan
Inevitably there will be days when the practice is open but less busy than normal. This makes December a great time to work on your business plans.
- Begin looking at updating your eyewear collections for the seasons ahead. Think about your requirements for next year’s ranges before you head off to shows, order book in hand.
- Prepare now for the busy time that January will bring including those customers who may have deferred purchases over the holiday period.
Work on your business plan. Be ready with strategies to hit the ground running at the start of the New Year and new business year. Don’t forget to include training plans that will support your business plan.
Read more here.
Further resources and ideas can be found in the ABDO Business Support Hub.
See the Growth and Product & Marketing sections.