Open or closed for the holidays?

This weekend marks one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year here in North America. In Canada, Boxing Day courts some of the longest lines and biggest sales. But in the United States, Black Friday and Cyber Monday take the cake.

For retailers, staying open isn’t even a question. The holiday shopping season is how many businesses meet their annual quotas and targets.

But for optometry practices, especially those with eyewear to sell, should you stay open or closed?

According to Invision Magazine, just over a third of optical retailers planned on staying open to attract Black Friday shoppers. For the majority who didn’t, investing in employee happiness and prioritizing family time were two reasons why owners decided to close shop over the weekend.

(Visit Invision for more reasons why optical retailers and practices did and did not stay open on Black Friday.)

I work with practices across the continent on employee engagement, and while it should be a priority year-round, this is certainly a time of year when employees as well as practice owners have their family, friends, errands and holiday parties top-of-mind. It’s also a time however where patients or potential patients may have time off to visit your practice for an eye health exam they’ve put off. While people are busy, they also tend to be out and about, and are keeping their eyes open for deals.

While independent practices may not be in a position to “slash prices” like big box store retailers tend to do, this time of year presents unique opportunities to support your employees all while drumming up business.

Consider, for example, hosting a holiday open house to celebrate employees and patients, and encourage walk-ins to your practice. If December tends to be a slower time for your clinic, ramping up your recalling and offering small incentives can help fill up empty appointments in your schedule. Encouraging families to bring their kids in for an exam once classes have finished for the calendar year can turn a chore into a convenience if the whole family can secure an appointment. Hiring temporary support staff can also be a way to keep your business running, while supporting the holiday and vacation needs of your employees.

With a little bit of creativity, practices can turn this holiday season into a festive one for employees and patients, and a profitable one for your bottom line.