Unintentional Marketing: How Giving to the Community Helped One OD’s Practice
Guest Contributor, Dr. David Way, Spring Klein Vision, http://www.springkleinvision.com/
I have always valued giving back to the community, particularly for professionals like myself with skills that can benefit the districts in which I work and live. I have been blessed with a great education, a wonderful career, and a significantly above average standard of living; I should use those talents and gifts to help those in my own community who are not as fortunate. Specifically, I had a strong desire to give back to my childhood school district (from which I now see patients) that provided me with such an excellent education. When six years ago I decided that I would act on these convictions, I never anticipated that my desire to do good would serve to boost my practice. While I never intended for my actions to be seen as a marketing tool for my practice, over the last six years I have had an influx of new patients simply because they have heard what I now do for the less fortunate students in the local school district.
Here’s how it all began. Knowing I wanted to focus my talents on helping local school children see better, I made a spontaneous phone call to the school district head nurse. Initially I offered to volunteer my time to help with the annual vision screenings, but Nurse Smith explained that they had all the help they needed in that area. Then she went on to explain that every year they have several students who fail the vision screening who do not have insurance and for one reason or another do not qualify for state Medicaid insurance.
“Could you perhaps help by doing a few free eye exams for those students?” she asked hesitantly.
“Absolutely,” I said, I could do that.
In addition, I offered to also make those children glasses as needed. In the end we agreed that I would offer 20 free eye exams to the district each year and if needed provide those patients with glasses for no more than $20 to cover the cost of the glasses and to allow the patients to feel that they have contributed something of their own to the process). Each year I would give 20 voucher letters to the district nurse who would in turn hand them out as needed to the individual school nurses.
By the end of that first school year we had far surpassed 20 exams (we actually performed 60 exams!) Since we would work them in within my regular schedule, I had not even realized we had done so many. The second year we did 80, then 105 (we have since capped it to 80 vouchers per year).
Soon it became apparent that I was beginning to see a lot of the individual school nurses and their families as well. Then, I began to see more of the school teachers and their families. Before I realized it, several school nurses and teachers were referring their friends and family members to see me.
Several times a day I was hearing, “Thank you for what you do for the children in our school”.
“Thank you for what?” I would think to myself. “I am only doing what I feel I ought to do as an optometrist in this community”.
Knowing that I am using the gifts that I have been blessed with to benefit these children also continues to give me great personal satisfaction. I never intended this program to become as large as it has, and I never intended for it to be used as a marketing tool for my practice. Nevertheless, in simply doing what "I ought to do" for my local school district, the level of trust, recognition, and appreciation I have seen by those involved in the largest school district in our area has grown tremendously over the last 6 years. So what have I learned? When you give, you get back exponentially.
Dr Way was born and raised in Northwest Houston and earned his Optometric Doctorate at University of Houston College of Optometry. Upon graduating, Dr. Way founded Spring Klein Vision Center and has also served as an attending doctor for the University of Houston, College of Optometry. Dr. Way lectures to students and other doctors in the field on successful practice management strategies, and he has lectured and assisted local nurses regarding children's vision problems and learning disorders. He and his wife Sharon, his lovely triplet daughters Sydney, Morgan, and Natalie, and his son Aidan live in Rosehill, Texas.
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