Member Spotlight: Dr. Hank Makini – Eyes Plus
Moving Locations to Promote Practice Growth
Dr. Hank Makini and wife Sharon Makini, Director of Operations, have been in private practice for over 27 years. They opened their first office in the small town of Nanakuli on the Leeward Coast of Oahu in 1990, with humble beginnings and the hopes of serving the Hawaiian people. They soon realized they needed to move their office from the rural community to a more thriving location if they hoped to grow.
In 1994 they were presented with the opportunity to buy the first and only eye care practice in the up-and-coming city of Kapolei, and were there for fifteen years before moving to an adjacent shopping center in 2011 with better visability and better negotiable lease parameters.
After another five years and now no qualms with moving locations, they transitioned from a commercial shopping center space and settled into their current location, a smaller business development building in a brand new residential community in Kapolei. Their new, fourth location has already been experiencing a 20-25% increase in productivity and has been well-received within the community.
We had a chance to connect with Eyes Plus to discuss their location move, the results their practice has been experiencing, and get their advice on what they would recommend to fellow Members looking to move locations.
What made you come to the conclusion that you needed to move and expand your practice?
After 27 years of private practice in a lease-rent situation with rents continuing to climb, we felt it was time to better our financial positioning for long-term sustainability by exploring the possibility of owning our own space. In addition, we felt it important to take steps to prepare for retirement as well as fulfill the desire to leave a legacy for our children. Our practice has turned into a true ‘family practice’ since our eldest daughter, Ambrosia, is following in her dads footsteps by becoming an optometrist. She begins optometry school this month, and our two youngest daughters also joined our practice last year.
How did you leverage any PECAA services or vendors throughout the move?
We reached out to a few PECAA vendors to gain support with things like advertising (i.e.: Post card mailings, flyer hand outs, new logo design, a website refresh), special billing terms on restocking and the bringing in of new brand inventory, of which helped to keep our cash flow strong and healthy through the transitional period, in addition to obtaining donations for our grand opening celebration day.
How did you advertise your new location?
Mass mailing, social media, e-blasts to our current patient base, creation of a handful of videos to post everything from our location move details to showcasing our progress along the journey, flyer handouts and staff verbalizing our move to every patient that walked through our doors. We adjusted our out-going office phone message, had yard sign postings and window banners at the old and new spaces, through word-of-mouth via vendors, professional memberships & our various business affiliates. We also held an advertised soft opening and grand opening celebration with a trunk show featuring our most popular frame brands.
After the move, did you notice any changes in your clientele?
Our office is now a next door neighbor to hundreds of condominiums and single family homes in the area, so we’ve had an influx of new patients from the neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods which has also added even greater word-of-mouth referrals. One of the significant, and we must say welcomed changes we are experiencing in clientele is that much of our walk-in traffic at our old space, which was in a busy mall, were more window shoppers, waiting for their take out food orders or their hair or medical clinic appointments, and were not necessarily patronizing our office as a customer, but more as a browser. However, that still took time away from our staff in accomplishing other duties or assisting true patients.
We are very happy to share that our current walk-in clientele are mostly those who genuinely are coming in to make a purchase or set an appointment as a new patient, so in turn, our staff are now truly busy with productive walk-ins that affect our bottom line in a positive way. We are busier than ever with increased patient loads since our move! It was definitely the right choice for us!
What advice would you want to share with your fellow PECAA Members?
1) Be selective in choosing a good General Contractor. A commercial GC tends to understand more the critical timing issues that your business would face moving from one operating location to a new location, with the least amount of closure downtime as possible. Find one willing to work very closely with you and someone who is a good communicator.
2) Do your research, hire and keep on top of the communication and the activity of those that are performing on your behalf to make things happen. IE: architectural design, permitting, construction, the real-estate broker (for obtaining the new property as well as wrapping up the old, whether it be a completion of lease or a re-assignment), seeking approvals and understanding regulations of any HOA and CUC organizations as required.
Don’t just give the larger task at hand to them to complete. Keep a close and keen eye on them regarding the small steps as well. They might tend to think of it as micromanaging, but it’s just a way to keep your project at the forefront of their minds – in line and on time. Your project is just one small piece of their pie, and keeping them all moving forward is imperative. Remember, it’s your business and it’s successful transition is at stake with many critical irons in the fire (many at the same time), and you don’t want to left be out in the cold when your slated move-in date arrives. So, have your finger on the pulse of it all with kindness and respect, to ensure each job gets done properly and as on time as can be controlled.
3) Before we moved, we used the previous 3 to 4 months to advertise the move and took advantage of the ‘before moving time’ to clean out each area of the practice. We decided on what was going and what was being purged and took steps to sell off furnishings, displays, office decor and supplies by posting ‘Moving Sale’ notices on our windows, by sending out e-blasts to our patient base, posting photos and signs on places like craigslist, instagram, and facebook. We also held ‘Office Moving Sales’, even during business hours (many of our patients actually enjoyed buying much of our decor items) and had home yard sales on weekends.
4) If your color scheme is different at the new office and there are furniture pieces that will be going over, DIY them by giving them a fresh coat of paint that goes with your new color scheme. It really helped save us valuable time by refurbishing many of our usable items after hours and on weekends before we relocated.
5) Along with a fresh color scheme, take advantage of this opportunity to freshen up or create a new logo and website by giving them a ‘face-lift’ to modernize them.
Any additional feedback you would like to share?
Being an entrepreneur takes ‘true grit’. To move your office, more than once, takes nerves of steel. But, as long as you have very supportive people around you sharing the same vision for the practice, an unbreakable faith and passion for everything you do, success is within your reach!