For those of you in downtown Chicago or have spent time there, there are many Potbelly Sandwich Works located every couple of blocks. For those of you not familiar with this restaurant, it’s a combination of Subway meets Starbucks. For many people, it’s a daily routine for their lunch hour. You can get a toasted sandwich and a pretty good vibe, all for about $5. Amateur musicians play in the background, and the cafe/restaurant is always filled with upbeat, high energy people.
While offering such a unique environment for a reasonable price, they have to have quite a bit of volume to stay in business. Sales per square foot are the name of the game, and Potbelly wins just about every day. Lines can be seen being formed outside of the restaurant, seemingly a huge bottleneck. Potbelly’s has done quite a bit to ensure that the throughput of the restaurant is reasonable, so that everyone keeps coming back during that vital lunch hour, which can make or break a downtown fast-food restaurant in Chicago.
Lately, I have noticed that they have really been promoting their website, where you can place orders, and pick up your food without the wait. Your sandwich will be prepared, so you can eat and run, or take your food back to your office. In promoting this website, they have inserted postcards with orders and have made it highly visible through every step of the order process when you’re in the store, that there is a viable alternative, not aimed at replacing the current way most people grab lunch. They are aiming to target those individuals that value convenience and speed, over long lines. From a business perspective, they improve their throughput and can better anticipate demand through a transparent system.
With SavvyDoc, we aim to do the exact same thing. We don’t aim to replace using the telephone to make doctors appointments, we want to make it easier for those individuals that highly value efficiency and transparency. For us to be successful as a company, we do not need to have 98% of the doctor’s patients utilizing the online tool, it’s a system that can alleviate the bottlenecks so the physician can better anticipate demand. As an industry, by most studies, far less than 10% of the carryout orders are done online, yet it translates into a multi-billion dollar space. For tech savvy individuals, ordering online is a huge plus, which GrubHub capitalizes on.
Their are inherent bottlenecks in making appointments, which is why in our market research, 20-30% of the office staff’s time is spent on patient scheduling. Imagine the impact if 40% of the the appointments were done online. Imagine this power, coupled with decreasing the no-show rate, filling last minute cancellations, and the ability to recruit additional patients to the practice. That’s the goal of SavvyDoc. Some patients will enjoy utilizing SavvyDoc because of the real-time scheduling, but there are still others that may not see the value, but as with online banking, over time, I believe that it will be just as common, at least we at SavvyDoc think so.