Member Spotlight: Shawna Vanderhoof, OD
Building Local Brand Awareness
“Your brand starts with yourself,” says Dr. Shawna Vanderhoof, who opened Focus Eyecare in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in July of 2016.
Murfreesboro, about 40 miles outside of Nashville, is growing “exponentially,” explains Dr. Vanderhoof, which was why she chose that location to open her optometry practice. “We’re in an area with new families in my age group with young kids. I connect with that.”
“My average patient is 30 to 40 years old, and they’re looking for something different,” Dr. Vanderhoof says. “So I feel people are coming here to experience something fresh. It goes along with our theme, that we try to show patients a different experience, not only with the frames we carry but also with the time and care we give them during the exam.”
Focus Eyecare, which operates with three people on staff (comprising Dr. Vanderhoof, an optician and a front desk administrator), makes an ongoing effort to get involved in the community by participating in events and supporting other local businesses when possible.
“One of our patients has a child with kidney disease, so we sponsored a fundraising 5k as well as participated in the Live Your Kidneys walk/run last year,” explains Dr. Vanderhoof. “And we donate to all the local schools, including cheerleading teams in our local middle school and high school.”
“And we do hire locally,” she adds, which means her husband, a designer, was also hired for Focus Eyecare’s branding. “All of our dispensing tables are handmade, and the wood used to make them is sourced locally.”
“A lot of elbow grease went into making the practice what we wanted,” she explains, including a brightly colored turquoise wall in the reception area and exam rooms.
“Some patients ask if the color helps improve vision, but I tell them I just like to look at it,” she adds with a laugh.
Taking a Fresh Look at the Patient Experience
Another way Focus Eyecare differentiates itself, other than their involvement in the local community, is the experience they provide patients who enter their optometric office.
One part of that experience is the unique approach taken in the optical showroom. “We have set up our optical in a different way – our frames are not separated by women/men,” explains Dr. Vanderhoof.
For instance, the ‘Close to Home’ frame board features eyeglass frames designed in the United States, while ‘It’s Easy Being Green’ showcases frames produced by environmentally friendly companies, who may plant a tree for every frame sold, for instance. The ‘Do Gooders’ line features companies that donate to community nonprofits for every frame sold. And ‘Brands that You Know’ features familiar brands that customers usually seek out.
“I feel like every place you go is arranged the same way. I wanted to highlight that these frames are here is for a reason,” Dr. Vanderhoof explains. “And I own a small business, so I want to stand behind other small businesses.”
“I put in elements that I enjoy and I hope others feel the same,” Dr. Vanderhoof says. “I find that people who are also looking for that special experience or eyewear will search you out.”
At the end of the day, Dr. Vanderhoof says that she finds her practice as a way to connect with patients that are drawn to the practice’s brand in an authentic way.
“Before I transitioned to primary care, I did a residency in ocular surgery, lasik, and cataract surgery for the first 5 years of my career,” she explains. “But ultimately, I find joy in helping people see very well.”