Practice of The Month: How Treating Staff and Patients Like Family Brings Patient Loyalty
At EyeCarePro, we’re always fascinated to see the many different and innovative ways our practices create and nurture their brand and culture. We also love to see the many positive ways they use this brand and culture to impact the lives of both their staff and their patients. For October’s Practice of the Month, we’re taking a look at one of our ODCapture clients, Precision Eye Care of New Jersey, and their beloved eye doctor, Dr. Livia Derdova, who has developed a unique practice brand that encourages immense patient loyalty.
A Unique Approach That Inspires Patient Loyalty
What sets Precision Eye Care of New Jersey and Dr. Derdova apart? The all-female staff, and the “European Model” of eye care that Dr. Derdova runs her practice on. We spoke to Dr. Derdova about her practice, and why she thinks these two features are so important for practice culture, morale and success. Let’s take a look:
Hello Dr. Derdova, let’s jump right in. Can you tell us a little bit about you and your practice?
Sure! I earned my B.S. in Biology from Montclair State University, and graduated from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, with a Master’s Degree in Public Health. I then got my Doctor of Optometry degree from MCPHS University in Worcester, Mass. I’ve been working in the field of optometry and ophthalmology since 2006. I’m very passionate about educating my patients about eye health, and take special interest in dry eye issues and ocular allergy treatments.
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Precision Eye Care of New Jersey offers general eye care for the whole family in and around New Jersey. The practice itself has been serving the New Jersey area for over 25 years. I bought the practice from two great Optometrists, Drs. Zigman and Schwartz, on July 6, 2020, and poured myself into overhauling the practice and bringing the European Model of eye care to the community.
Our practice also boasts an all-female staff, which we feel gives the practice an especially nurturing vibe.
That’s interesting. We’ll get to what it means to run your eye care practice on a “European Model” in just a moment, but let’s zoom in for a second on the all-female staff. What do you feel that brings to the table for your patients?
As I mentioned before, I feel that having an all-female practice is very nurturing to a lot of patients. Women pay a lot of attention to detail and I think patients see it too. We keep the office clean, we are always compassionate to all of our patients on the phone, we always answer the phone with a smile and we are always ready to help. Most patients feel very welcomed by the staff and it means the world to me.
So, you identify your practice as "European." What exactly does that mean? What are some of the advantages for you and your patients of running your practice on the European model?
The European model to me means three things:
- Treat everyone the right way
- Treat patients like family
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Being there for patients is a big deal. Anytime a patient leaves our office I end with one sentence, and it’s always the same: "Anything you ever need, we are always here for you." That’s the philosophy of our eye care practice as a whole.
I always tell my patients, if you have an emergency with your eyes, call us and we will always fit you in. And when I say it, I mean it. Patients who call our emergency line can expect me to return their call within 5 minutes.
Truly caring for our patients like family (and showing it!) inspires loyalty to our practice, which really helps us with retention and we’re able to bring patients back for return visits year after year.
You say you make an effort to always treat your staff and patients "like family." What does that mean to you, and how does it impact your practice?
Having an amazing staff is very important to a business. They’re the biggest fans of the practice. You can't be a celebrity without fans and you can't have a successful practice without amazing staff!
My staff goes above and beyond to treat all patients respectfully and like a member of our family. They remember returning patients by their faces, names and stories. They get right into their conversations from last time, as though they spoke just yesterday. Sometimes, it's about the little things; complementing the patient on their outfit, a pretty nail color, a nice haircut. My staff really goes above and beyond to make my patients feel welcomed.
I often tell my staff how great of a job they do! I treat them once a week to lunch where we have a little fun catching up and laughing together. I also offer bonuses to staff for all their hard work and making my job easier. Each quarter, I invite my staff out for a delicious lunch in a classy restaurant or we go exploring in the town for some delicious cuisine. They appreciate it a lot and it brings all of us together.
I get constant reminders of how happy my staff is, and it shows in the way they treat our patients. From the moment a staff member answers a patient phone call and I hear the smile in their voice, it makes me realize how much they love working for my office and how much they respect me. It shows patients their commitment to the practice and to me too.
In closing, can you share some advice for other doctors that may want to run their practice on an all-female and/or European eye care model?
My advice to all practices is never discount the power of treating your staff and patients right. Happy staff and happy patients are what make you as a business owner successful.
Each review on Google, each referral by staff or patients speaks volumes about you and will reflect back positively on your practice. Ask patients to give you a review to let others know how you operate your amazing office, and make a brand for your office that showcases how much you care.
Go above and beyond to meet your patients' needs and you will be surprised how much it will mean to them!
I know sometimes we get discouraged because we do a lot for a patient and they might not buy contact lenses from you or they will go online for their eyeglass orders. Build trust, be kind to them and one day when others fail, they will return to you! They will remember that you did that extra step for them. The point is to stand out, to be different. I believe when you do something nice for someone, it will return to you threefold!
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