What’s in a name?

Odoo • Image and Text

How on earth did optometry practices end up with these silly names we see all over the show today? It appears to have become a trend across the profession. I’m loath to use a random example because I’m likely to unintentionally single out and offend someone. I was instrumental in starting an optometric business called Spectacle Warehouse, around the same time as Spec-Savers started in the early nineties. However, these brand names stood for something and denoted a huge selection in 600 square meters plus premises, and affordable eyecare respectively. It is difficult to figure out what names such as Bright This, Wise That, Vision This, Cheap That, and Clever This, really stand for. These names may be catchy, cute or oulik, but in reality, do very little to support the notion of professional practice. However, binding a group together with a defining modus operandi under a name such as Dynamic Vision or Torga Optical makes perfect sense. These groups are all able to reflect a Value Proposition. As groups, they can justifiably claim certain benefits for the consumer. At its core, a Value Proposition expresses why a customer should choose your products and examines your company's benefits. Value propositions are commonly associated with marketing strategies, and while they are part of marketing, they also have a much larger influence on how consumers view the business.

A solo practitioner under some arbitrary name that can't describe or do justice to what is going on in the practice, is perhaps not such a good idea. 

A significant challenge for all optometric businesses is to find a differential advantage in the marketplace. In other words, why should the customer choose you? This is so because all optometrists have access to the same products available to the industry. The one thing that is unique in optometric practice is the people component. This incorporates the optometrist's clinical skill, demeanor, and ability to deliver emotional labour, plus the service level of the staff compliment. The people component is what allows a solo practitioner to be different from the opposition and it therefore stands to reason that the name Nancy Jones* Optometrist, is the brand to put out there. It is the person that the loyal patient will talk about around the dinner table. This is what the word-of-mouth force can carry forward, an identifiable respected individual and not some silly name.

To emphasize the importance of practicing under one’s name rather than adopting an arbitrary practice name, here are a few reasons why this choice can be more beneficial.

  • Personal Branding: Your name is your identity, and practicing under your name helps establish a personal brand. By associating your expertise and reputation directly with your name, you can build trust and recognition among your patients. It also allows you to maintain a consistent professional image throughout your career.

  • Authenticity and Credibility: Using your name creates a sense of authenticity and credibility. Patients tend to feel more confident when they can connect with the person behind the practice. By practicing under your name, you convey transparency and professionalism, which can significantly enhance patient trust and loyalty.

  • Longevity and Flexibility: Unlike a generic practice name, your own name is timeless. It remains relevant regardless of any changes that may occur in the future, such as relocating or expanding your practice. Additionally, using your name provides flexibility if you decide to venture into different areas of optometry or even transition to other related fields.

  • Personal Connection: Optometry is a field where building personal relationships with patients is crucial. By practicing under your name, you create an immediate personal connection. Your name becomes a familiar and friendly point of reference, making patients feel comfortable and at ease during their visits.

  • Professional Legacy: Practicing under your name allows you to leave a lasting professional legacy. Your reputation and achievements will become associated with your name, contributing to a sense of pride and accomplishment throughout your career. It also allows you to establish a family or generational legacy if you plan to pass on your practice to future generations.

*Nancy Jones is my fictitious model used in many teaching scenarios. Any duplication of the name is unintentional.