DREAM BIG Small Business Award Finalist: Virginia Eye Consultants

May 2, 2012

Seven regional finalists are competing to be named the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam's Club®. The winner, to be announced on May 22 during America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the Chamber.

The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award pays tribute to businesses that excel in the areas of staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and strategy. The finalists were selected from 75 Blue Ribbon Award winners.

FreeEnterprise.com interviewed each of the finalists to learn more about what makes them special. Below is our chat with Virginia Eye Consultants.

Southeastern Region

Virginia Eye Consultants, Norfolk, Virginia - provides world class specialty eye care by leaders in innovation and education using state of the art technology.

What is the patient concierge program and how does it fit in with your Ritz Carlton 5 Star Service?

Karen J. Spencer, CEO: Over the last 2 years, we have gone through a cultural renovation if you will. We strive hard to grow a new culture that focuses on providing world-class service to our patients. Not only do we already have world class surgeons, we’ve got a great facility and all the technology to be successful. But we had to train our staff and ensure that we have that five-star service model similar to that when you stay at a Ritz Carlton.

How has your sponsorship and involvement in community activities attracted new customers?

Spencer: Being involved in the community creates awareness of your existence. We don’t have the advantage of our building sitting out on a street front. We’re not in the middle of a mall. We typically receive our referrals from other providers in the community. Being involved in the community and having teams participating in worthwhile events creates a new awareness of Virginia Eye Consultants and brings patients to our door.

What issues or concerns impact the way you run your business? And how?

Dr. John D. Sheppard, President: Medically speaking, we’re clearly facing a period rapidly accelerating, unprecedented regulation. We’re finding the burdens to be unfunded and many times mandated for questionable reasons. Nevertheless, we have to comply. We always deliver state-of-the-art care. Now, we’re required to deliver state-of-the-art documentation. And as we see more and more government intervention, we’ll see more and more expenses dedicated to non-patient care issues. This is a great concern to me and every other physician.

As a company involved in healthcare, how do you ensure that you have the healthiest employees? Tell us about your Biggest Loser competition.

Spencer: It's important from a wellness standpoint that our employees are here and equipped to do their jobs. One of our biggest successes has been our Biggest Loser program. Every year, sometimes twice a year, we run a 20-week program. It costs staff $25 to participate, and they set a goal for weight loss. If they meet that goal, they get their $25 back. The top winner gets a $500 prize, second runner-up gets $250, and third place gets $100. It’s a nice, friendly competition. People will sabotage one another with candy and sweets, but it has been fun bringing everybody together for a positive activity.

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