In order for an optometric practice to be successful, it's important for the owners and staff to take an interest in their surrounding community. Over at The Eye Site in Collinsville, Va., co-owners Drs. Julie Brown and Shannon Zollinger make it a point to not only help out local organizations — such as their local SPCA — but also form partnerships with other small businesses in their area to help support them as well.
Love at First Site
After meeting the director of the Martinsville Henry County SPCA at The Eye Site's optical renovation celebration the previous summer, the organization approached Brown and Zollinger about hosting a pet adoption event. They both thought it was a great idea and decided to co-sponsor the event, called "Love at First Site," this past August.
"They were able to bring out dogs and puppies that needed to be adopted," Brown recalled. "We had bounce houses for the kids and we gave away sunglasses. And we were able to get quite a few puppies and dogs adopted that day, so it was a really neat event."
According to Brown, about 200 people attended the event, which was held outside in the practice's parking lot. "We have some beautiful trees around the practice, so we held it in the parking lot under the trees," she said. "And then we had the office open for people who wanted to come in and talk to the doctors, check out the optical or take a tour of the practice. "
To advertise for the event, Brown said while they definitely used social media, they also made sure to use their local media outlets including newspapers and television. "The local paper and TV stations around here still pull more attention than social media because we are rural, so we distribute our advertising pretty evenly between the three to try to hit the most people across the large expanse of age ranges and communication preferences," Brown explained.
Overall, Brown said their patients were really excited to hear about such a unique event as they normally don't see these two entities — optometry and pet adoption — together. "I think the patients we already have were really proud their eye doctors and team were hosting such a positive event for the community," Brown added. "And those who might not have been our patients or aware of what we’re all about got a sneak peek of what we like to do and … what we believe in."
Supporting Their Roots
And the SPCA is certainly not the only community organization The Eye Site supports. The doctors and their staff also spend time at other local events, from public safety fairs to farmers’ markets. "We definitely try to be really involved and aware in helping those in our community," Brown said. "We’ve been here since 2013, so now that we’ve gotten more rooted here, we’ve definitely gotten more involved into the deeper nooks and crannies of the community."
For example, in September staff members from The Eye Site attended a Public Safety Fair in nearby Martinsville, Va., that children and their parents attended after school to learn about different aspects of safety and meet members of their police and fire departments. "We were able to set up and talk to the kids and parents about the importance of getting their eyes examined every single year and send them home with some important literature," Brown said. "That was really positive to reinforce at a young age the importance of health and the importance of our law enforcement and what they can do."
And The Eye Site team also took part in a health and safety fair for a local business in September. "We have quite a few patients that work there, so they invited us to come out and we talked about protecting your eyes in the work environment with safety goggles and the importance of an annual eye exam," Brown explained.
Showing Good Faith
For Brown and Zollinger, being so involved in their community is crucial because it shows good faith.
"We care about these people not only just for the benefit of our practice," Brown explained. "Our main focus is that these people have access to affordable, high-quality eye care, general health care, general education, safety — things of that nature. When we diversify ourselves, and put a focus on giving back to the community, it just really emphasizes what our focus is at The Eye Site, which is high-quality care and good quality of life."
Both practitioners even help support other local businesses in their area by providing them with shout-outs on social media or partnering with them. For instance, Brown posted on The Eye Site's Facebook page about her visit to a local bookstore called Books and Crannies, asking their followers to support them. They also created bookmarks for the bookstore to give out that urges readers to contact The Eye Site if they have trouble when reading.
And The Eye Site even partnered with a local coffee shop, the Daily Grind. "We offer their coffee in our practice and we let (patients) know where they can get a similar cup of joe," Brown added.
For Brown and Zollinger, it all goes back to supporting their local area. "There’s so much negativity in the world that we like to share the positive things that are going on in the community because people are working really hard across all different environments to make it better," Brown said. "I think it’s really important that we support those people and support those events."