Home EssilorLuxottica Eye Care School’s Out: Time to Start Preparing for the Back-to-School Rush

School’s Out: Time to Start Preparing for the Back-to-School Rush

Dr. Tonya Lindsell
Dr. Tonya Lindsell

If you wait to start preparing for the back-to-school rush in late summer, you’ve already missed a good part of the opportunity, says Tonya Lindsell, OD, of Cincinnati Vision Group. The best strategy to prepare for back-to-school is to start early with promotions and awareness campaigns about the importance of eye exams.

Dr. Lindsell is a leaseholder with three locations next to LensCrafters and two locations next to Target Optical, all in Ohio. With five practices to lead and the anticipated rush, she cannot leave scheduling to chance. Here are some strategies to optimize the opportunity during this peak time of the year that she has refined over the years.

SET THE SCHEDULES EARLY

Doctor schedules are posted in May for the month of August. She asks her associates to share their summer vacation plans as soon as they know them, so she has the lead time to build and post a workable schedule. “When doctors know when they’re working, it’s easier for them to schedule their own or their family members’ dental and doctor visits.”

She also makes sure to communicate any schedule changes with the staff on the retail sales side. “If I’m scheduling double doctors for a busy day, the store associates need to know that. We don’t want them to be surprised by the volume of patients seen that day. So as soon as we have the schedules, we post them for the retail staff to see, too.”

This communication is key in making sure there is enough associate coverage because dispensing eyeglasses for kids can take a little more time.

TALK IT UP

Dr. Lindsell encourages her own staff to start paying extra attention to what parents say about their summer schedules around April. “Parents generally know their summer plans by then. If they say, ‘Oh, my kids get out so early this year,’ or ‘Susie’s going to camp for most of July,’ my technician might say, ‘Let’s try to get them in earlier this summer then.’”

Many vision benefit plans now offer calendar year benefits, so it may not be necessary to wait 365 days since the last exam to schedule their next one. When her staff can reschedule those back-to-school patients who came during the last-minute crunch last year for an appointment in June or July, that can help everyone. The patient arrives when the office is less busy, and it opens a last-minute slot for someone else. “We might say, ‘We had a cancellation. Do you want to bring your child in earlier?’”

Her staff is aware of those plans that allow a calendar-year benefit, so the staff member making the call can assure the parents it is a covered benefit, even if it’s earlier in the year. “That’s our job to check that,” she says.

MAKE IT CONVENIENT

“My locations are all where people want to be. They can come here and then go to Kroger or Dick’s. As a busy mom of three kids and running five locations and seeing patients, I understand how challenging it can be to do everything you need to,” she says.

She also ensures that she’s open when patients want to come in. “All of the LensCrafters locations are open seven days a week, with evening hours, even on the weekends. We also need to be available to patients,” she says. She credits open communication with doctors and staff with making that work.

CHILDREN ARE PRACTICE-BUILDERS

Dr. Lindsell acquired her first LensCrafters sublease in 2006, and the business has grown from there. Her interest in advocating for children’s comprehensive eye exams is a factor in that growth. “Every time you have adult patients in the exam chair, and you learn that they have three or four children who haven’t had an eye exam this year is a moment for education. I tell them that there are eye conditions that can go undetected and could potentially result in irreversible vision loss,” she says.

“I emphasize that we can keep children seeing well. I note that parents do not bring their children to the dentist only when their teeth hurt. I explain that some eye diseases are silent, and children may not experience symptoms until they’re old enough to notice or they realize that they cannot see what their friends see.”

She shares that “why” with her staff as well. During regular office meetings, she reinforces the importance of promoting children’s eye exams. Ensuring children are scheduled for their annual eye exams is a priority, as early detection of eye conditions is vital.

And the summer is when they come in droves. By planning early and having all team members ready to adjust as needed, she and her team can be prepared.

 

Read more stories from EssilorLuxottica Eye Care and WO here.

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