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Footfall Falling?

By on February 17, 2015
Which is better 1 or 2? Imagine asking the people in your town a new version of the optician’s most famous question…..Which is better…… Practice 1….. or Practice 2Or to put it another wayWhich is better (at delivering what you want) Practice 1 (mine) or Practice 2 (somebody else’s)

If you are suffering from falling numbers some of the people who you would like to walk through your door think it’s better with Practice 2, or 3, or 4 or 5……. here’s how to fix it.

Be clinical Treat your practice’s problems as you would a patient’s with a three-step process with which you are already very familiar.

1 Investigate Carefully investigate the issue so you scientifically and dispassionately get the FACTS. Test your assumptions and carefully consider the validity of emotional anecdotes before you act. “They’re all going to the cheaper place down the road” may well not be true.

2 Diagnosis Once you really know why people aren’t choosing you it’s time to put an action plan together to fix it.

3 Management Plan Scientifically create a plan to resolve the symptoms and make sure that you comply with it, review its progress and adapt it as required.


1 Investigate

Start with some numbers and note the long-term and short-term trends comparing the number of people in each category and the category as a percentage of the total. You could use some of the categories in the following table and remember to add your own specialist appointments.

Unless you are already a KPI wizard and fully versed in the details of your practice management software I would suggest that you simply use a daily paper and pencil tick sheet to record these.


Get Feedback

If word of mouth is important to you it’s a great idea to find out what people are REALLY saying when they talk about you, our two favourite methods are

NPS2 – the Duochrome Net Promoter Score and

DDR – the Daily Dose of Reality phone calls

Both of which would take up too much space on this blog but Take 30 Minutes with compliments and I’ll tell you all

Talk to your lapsed recall

Make sure that you call a significant sample of people who haven’t responded to your recall letters to find out why they haven’t been back, where they visited instead and why your competitor was more appealing.

Remember though that customer feedback is useless for getting the opinion of those who don’t choose to visit at all which brings us to

Ideal Customer Review

The following table allows you to compare your target customer groups with the strength of your offering.


It is a good idea to involve someone who doesn’t work in your organisation when you complete this table

2 Diagnosis

By now you should have a pretty good idea of what isn’t working and how this has come about and there may be several factors that collectively contribute to your problem.

It’s time to acknowledge that, no matter how unpalatable the conclusions, you have a problem and it’s time to fix it.

Some common and very treatable “conditions” include:

Sorry Staff – staff who don’t deliver the required customer experience standards

Misalignment – The fundamental offer is well thought out in every way other than it doesn’t suit the needs and wants of the people who live nearby.

Best Kept Secret – The practice is perfectly aligned but the external appearance, poor website and lack of PR or marketing make it impossible for a new patients to tell.

Ragged Retail – the retail environment is untidy and badly maintained, negatively influencing the public’s perception of the quality of the service and products.

Assumed High Price – a lack of comment about value added in a smart practice that features quality products will cause people to be fearful of how much they are going to be expected to spend and stop them walking through the door.

The Silent Cycle – If you aren’t keeping in touch with the people in your database you are ignoring the fact that your competition is constantly whispering sweet things in their ears.

3 Management Plan

·       Fix anything that is obviously broken immediately

·       (Re)Align your offering to create an outstanding and unique value proposition to your target market

·       Be prepared to make changes and experiment

·       Minimise the risk in case your initiative doesn’t perform the way you expect it to

·       Try new initiatives for a pre-defined period and then test your results, build on your success and learn from your mistakes

·       Get the word out to re-educate your current customers and attract those who have yet to visit.

Need Help?

Take 30 minutes with me and I will be delighted to give you a hand.


About Andy Clark

Practice Building Founder Andy Clark has extensive experience of the business of optics with both the multiples and the Independent sector, he is an award winning educator with a passion for creating learning experiences that have lasting value.

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