You and your staff know very well who your patients are and who buys from your optical dispensary. But do you know who your potential patients and clients are?
Zip code analysis gives your vision care practice the power to recognize financial opportunities and respond to them proactively, explains Mark Johnson, Director of Optical Services at Virginia Eye Institute. It helps you identify the incomes, ages, buying characteristics, other demographic information of both the patients who frequent your practice as well as potential patients you don’t know yet, Johnson told Vision Expo West attendees.
To begin, use your POS software to pull the zip codes of the patients who’ve visited your practice within the last few years. Export your POS data into a spreadsheet that notes each patient’s zip code, as well as any other data you have in your POS, such as gender, age, and how much each patient has spent in your dispensary. Study the POS data to discern clues to how your practice appeals to local markets.
Where do most of your patients come from? How much does geographical proximity influence the mix? Do you discern patterns that suggest other factors besides geography are shaping your client base? Are there particular zip codes with higher percentages of dispensary purchases than others?
Next, go to a free zip code analysis site to learn more about the demographics of each zip code. Such sites will tell you:
- Population density, and how it compares to population densities in the county, state, and U.S.
- Median age, and how it compares to median age of county, state, and U.S.
- Median income, and how it compares to median income of county, state, and U.S.
- Household type—for example, single, married couple, etc.
- Average household size
- Housing type—for example, single unit, multi-unit rental, etc.
- Median home price
- Unemployment rate
Several Internet sites that offer free zip code data. Example: Esri (We love this site’s “Tapestry” profiles.)
You can learn a ton from what such sites offer for free, and some sites also offer more detailed data for a price. Once you’ve pulled together data for the zip codes in your area, use what you learn to find out what kinds of clients your practice isn’t attracting. If you’d like to market to those patients, use the data you find to brainstorm ways to appeal to them. For example, you might modify your frame inventory to appeal to a particular demographic where you see opportunity. Or, you might plan a pop-up event or trunk show that targets the demographic your practice is missing.