Where should you locate your dispensary?

September 15, 2008

Managers or operators of optical dispensary shops can learn how to increase their sales by taking a page from the major department stores' playbook-a dispensary is most effective when it is located at the entrance of the practice, adjoining the waiting room and adjacent to checkout.

Key Points

As you enter the store, stop, look around, and answer this question: In what department are you standing?

With a high degree of certainty, I can say that you are standing in the cosmetics department. It may help to know that at Macy's flagship store on 34th street in New York City, a bewildering array of cosmetics counters occupy one-half of a square city block of space. In practical terms, in order to reach the bank of elevators at the center of the store, one must run the gauntlet of perfume and cosmetics vendors.

The question is: How does the cosmetics department rate the most prime real estate in a department store? The answer is simple. Cosmetics generate the highest profit and some of the highest sales of any department in the store. Also, making customers weave their way through this department in order to get to the more common destination departments is an effective merchandising strategy. Conversely, the mattress department usually generates the least traffic, sales, and profit, which is why mattresses are almost always found in the far corners of a store's upper floors.

If we apply that principle to the dispensing ophthalmology business, we learn that a dispensary is most effective when it is located at the entrance of the practice, contiguous with the waiting room and adjacent to checkout. This placement strategy works for the same reason it does in the department store world. Potential customers will encounter the dispensary before they reach their destination location-the examination room. That will cause them to think about it.

This placement strategy has a number of other advantages as well.

For those practices that have incorporated this dispensary design into their practices, but still struggle with getting patients to visit, consider these additional ideas:

Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book The Dispensing Ophthalmologist, slated for release by the American Academy of Ophthalmology this summer. He can be reached at 803/359-7887, arthur@adegennaro.com
, or through the company's Web site, http://www.adegennaro.com/