Dr. Consuelo Chavez-Gomez is a businesswoman with a mission: never turn a patient away. In this day and age when the insurance highway is filled with potholes for patients and providers alike, it’s big mission. One with the potential to save lives. And, that’s exactly what they do at Olivos Opticians in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City.
With a very diverse population of approximately 108,000 residents, and a median income of $48,535 per year, Jackson Heights is a city by itself in the vastness of Queens, NYC. The range of patients at Olivos Opticians can be quite extensive, where most are low income.
Dr. Chavez-Gomez‘s is the COO of this diverse medically-based optical company. Olivos Opticians, has been around since 1976, and she, along with her husband and President, Dr. Jose Alejandro Gomez, assumed full ownership in 2009. It is a small business that operates from the heart, and Dr. Chavez-Gomez likes it that way. Her philosophy: money is NOT the reason you become a doctor. Servicing eye health is front and center, and Olivos Opticians helps their patients regardless of whether or not insurance companies cover the cost.
With her focusing less on money and more on patients, one would think business would suffer. But it has the opposite effect – her business is thriving. Key Paragon is honored to be sharing this busy entrepreneur’s story.
Can you walk us through your story – how you started, and how you got to where you are today? What inspired you to start your business?
When I was 18 my uncle asked me to work with him. He was the owner of Olivos Opticians at that time. My job was to sit with the doctors and translate Spanish for them. I had such a positive experience that it led me to decide to attend optometry school. In 2009, my uncle wanted to retire and offered me and my husband the opportunity to take over. I love that it’s a family business. Anyone who has ever worked here is family or is like family. My husband works with me. So do my cousins and niece. My dad at one point even worked here. All my employees have been long-term. It’s been a blessing. I’ve never had Monday blues and it doesn’t feel like going to work.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The hardest part in our business is dealing with the insurance companies. There are constant changes and gray areas. Our policy is to take every plan. We don’t turn any patients away because they have a lower paying insurance. Sometimes we don’t get paid for medical services. Sometimes we have to take a loss. But everybody who needs a service should get it. Patients should not be denied any care. It’s not their fault for not having the finances. Our reputation has led many primary care physicians to send us referrals. We’re grateful for their trust in us.
What should we know about your practice – what do you do best, and what sets you apart from the competition?
We have many repeat customers and they refer their family and friends. We don’t do a lot of advertising and the majority of our business is by word of mouth. Our patients come back to us because we don’t limit their options. We want our patients to be happy. We spend time with each patient. Because of that we do everything by appointment and schedule a patient every 30 minutes. We don’t over schedule in a day. Problems in eye health can be hidden. It takes time to look for signs of tumors, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. That can’t be done in 5 minutes. It may take us a bit longer but we want to give each person the time needed.
What positive impact is your company having on the community you serve and your customers?
Olivos Opticians has been serving Jackson Heights for over 40 years. It’s a mixed, multi-cultural neighborhood – one we love. We take care of our patients first. It may mean taking less money but we do the right thing. We accept every insurance and Medicaid. Olivos Opticians serve everyone in the community regardless of how much money they make. We don’t hover, and we don’t believe in being pushy.
Do you have any advice for small business owners at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey?
Think with your heart and put your heart into your business. A lot of the times when we think with dollar signs, we don’t provide the best service to our customers. It’s not good to try to be pushy when you do sales. You have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You may not get quite as much, but you will be better off. And always give back.
Businesses with a mindset like Dr. Consuelo Chavez-Gomez is one of the reasons we at Key Paragon began this Small Business Giving Heart blog. ‘Patients first’ is the mantra that she embodies. She believes everyone in the position to give should do so because it is the right thing to do. If all businesses operated with this philosophy, in the long run, not only would they be better off but so would the world at large.
Do you know a Small Business with a Giving Heart?
This blog is from Key Paragon Marketing & Advisory Firm. Key Paragon was formed under the idea of giving individuals of different abilities a purpose, whatever their ability. We aim to create and grow a company that can eventually hire these same individuals.
If you know a small business which gives back to society, let us know. We would love to be able to showcase them in our blog. Contact us here with details.
Sarina is a writer, marketing expert, and entrepreneur. With degrees in Psychology and Visual Arts, she blended both disciplines in careers as an advertising producer, corporate marketing strategist, small business owner, and author. She believes at the core of every challenge lies the human heart, and solutions can only be found by exploring it.
An avid seeker of answers, Sarina is also the founder of Wandering Wonder Woman, a blog site with a mission to close the gap between people and places by sharing travel stories, food recipes, and advice from a global village of women.
Erika is a data and targeting expert. She has developed many segment analysis processes and target populations in order to support business initiatives. Her passion in chaos theory and fractal analysis helps her view data in a very unique way.
Erika enjoys also reading about the future of work and how we can bring it closer to the present. “How we work today will be so different in 10/20 years from now. It’s exciting to see what will happen given all the economic, human, and technical evolution we are currently experiencing.”
…and Han shot first…