Features: Successful Retail Strategies

Nov
2013

Home Is Where the Heart Is

A hometown advocate thrives on the pulse of his community’s vision need



By Victoria Garcia

DYNAMIC DISPENSING

WHO
Midtown Optometry

LOCATION
Stockton, Calif.

Number of employees 4

Website
midtownoptometry.com

20/20 take
The perfect combination of personalized customer service and community involvement.

South of Sacramento, Calif., off Interstate 5, sits the highly publicized town of Stockton. One of the state’s two inland seaports, Stockton is home to a struggling economy, high crime rates and bankruptcy. Despite fluctuating financial troubles and what some might consider a sometimes less than stellar civic and social reputation, the town of over 295,000 residents has a hidden gem that is working hard to take care of its residents. Midtown Optometry is relentless in its missive to shine and give the term “hometown feel” a whole new meaning.

Midtown Optometry was founded in 2006 by Stockton natives Derron Lee, OD, and his wife Leanne Lee, OD. After completing optometry school in New York City, the high school sweethearts decided to move back home where they found an existing optometry office of 30 years and turned the 2,400-square-foot space into a customer-friendly, open arena for eyewear. 

A year ago, the couple refreshed the location’s layout and opted for a clean, welcoming environment for their clients. They chose a design with less generic point-of-purchase clutter and decided to purchase new displays and dispensing tables from Bate Optical Displays and Furnishings, located in Corona, Calif. The new design greets customers with a large floor plan where two-thirds of the space is dedicated to showcasing their 900-piece frame inventory. Along the walls are illuminated wooden stand-alone units with white backgrounds and lighting to display a variety of frames. Four freestanding dispensing tables are located in the center of the room featuring equipment to aid customers when trying on frames. Displays are organized by moderate priced frames and high-end brands as well as by demographics. “We actually spread the love among all distributors and vendors. We have swayed away from the bottom end of the food chain on glasses,” explains Lee. “We have brands and prices that fit everyone’s budget.” Some of the most popular brands offered are Gucci, Coach, Versace, Silhouette, Michael Kors, Prada and Oakley. Lee stocks collections that customers want by keeping track of past purchases and bringing in styles from independent vendors and requests from patients. This is where Midtown Optometry’s small but stellar staff comes into play. The Lees hire based on experience and personality, and with the current economic situation of Stockton, their employees have been more than resilient. These opticians work with patients to educate and explain eyecare needs. “We offer a vision treatment plan based on the patient’s lifestyle and occupational needs,” explains Lee, who also operates two other eyecare facilities, Manteca Optometry and the Manteca Vision Development Center. Both are conveniently located near Stockton, to help better serve those in surrounding communities.

Midtown Optometry prides itself on other aspects besides its interior design. The Lees concentrate on community involvement, educating patients and social media to improve their practice. Educating patients is something that all optometrists do, but not as personally as Lee. With the help from his staff, Lee makes understanding eyecare easy. “One thing that I would actually recommend for colleagues out there is to make yourself different,” explains Lee. “The way we’ve done that for our office is not only customer service-wise but in little things.” He e-mails a video to all of his patients regarding eyecare findings and issues to keep them updated on new discoveries. After each appointment, he sends a report to the patient’s primary care physician while giving them a customized lens package, all in an effort to set himself apart. Lee also provides a patient portal log for customers that allow them to check on personal orders, appointments and store updates. A plasma TV also sits in the reception area and plays informative eyecare videos sourced by Eyemaginations, a health care media company that creates interactive software to improve the patient and doctor relationship.

Lee’s love and passion for Stockton is in keeping with his sense of his own origins, and has greatly helped him in his personal goal to become a hometown success. His involvement with the community has created a vast number of opportunities for all of Stockton and its residents. Lee teamed up with small local businesses to make customers feel more comfortable with his services. After each visit, children are offered a free balloon or goldfish supplied by Stockton stores, Randy’s Fish Palace and The Balloonery, adding a personal touch to each visit and making Midtown Optometry a memorable experience. Lee also created the White Gold Rush program to assist a local community center by donating white tube socks to those in need. St. Mary’s Dining Room, where Lee volunteers, helps more than 700 people a day providing food, clothing and shelter. Lee discovered the lack of white socks available and created a YouTube video asking customers to donate new socks, also known as “white gold” due to their scarcity. “I’m passionate about helping people and also helping the community,” says Lee. “It’s important to have fun with what you do.” But his passion for Stockton doesn’t stop there; Lee also contributes to the 20/20 Eyecare Program, which links local businesses with Midtown Optometry by allowing business owners to provide vision care benefits for their employees and their family members by offering 20 percent off services and products. Additionally, he created the Comeback Scholarship Program to inspire high school students to return to Stockton after college to create businesses and more opportunities for the community, just like the Lees did.

Social networking directly links Lee to his patients. To educate patients outside of the exam room, he allows customers to personally contact him on all social media platforms. Not only does Midtown Optometry have a very detailed and updated Facebook page, but Lee incorporates his own personal page to interact with customers. Many patients have contacted him via Facebook to ask about their eyecare needs, even going as far as incorporating a picture for him to examine. “The Facebook page has been fantastic. It gives patients the opportunity to see what’s new,” says Lee. “I know a lot of my colleagues use my page as a platform for their businesses.” The Midtown Optometry Facebook page and website are constantly being updated with eyecare facts, community events and deals that are being offered. His continuous interaction through Facebook and high praises from a mutual colleague is what led Lee directly to 20/20.

With rave reviews from clients and the community, Lee doesn’t plan on changing his ways anytime soon. “It’s all about supporting the local economy. That’s what I’m really passionate about. Like they say, ‘I’m loyal to the soil’. When you support the community, they’ll support you.” ■

 

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