"Wait. Trees have individual leaves?" Imagine seeing the detail of nature for the first time because you just got your very first pair of prescription eyeglasses. Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler see this delightful reaction all over the world.
Now imagine suffering from the symptoms of dry eye—itching, stinging, feeling like something is in your eye non-stop. Consider what it might be like to live with this, but then finding a treatment that stops the issue dead in its tracks. And then the relief of NOT having to deal with something you’ve always dealt with.
Dr. Travis Zigler and wife Dr. Jenna Zigler took ownership of this problem. They created a solution. They serve and serve and serve some more. And they did it by following the Owner’s Model.
Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler just exited their business, which they grew to reach a $6M run rate. Travis and Ryan recently had a conversation about how it all happened.
Seeing What's Not There (Yet)
While they were making a healthy income as practicing optometrists, they felt like something was missing. They decided to go after their entrepreneurial dream. To help others in a more meaningful way. Their focus? Serving dry eye sufferers. From nothing, they started a Facebook community called the Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community.
In the early days of their Facebook group, it wasn't pretty. They'll be the first to tell you their early content was rough around the edges. They didn't even have a dry eye product to offer yet. But they continued to reach out, making connections and building the community.
We Did Not See That Coming
They were already selling a dry eye product in their practices. But they knew they could create a better, more affordable version. What they created is their current best-selling product. Today, they sell approximately 225 units each day. Their customers purchase the product monthly, as well as additional products in the lineup. Each product is natural and features minimal ingredients.
The goal was manufacturing products with no bleach or irritants and minimal chemicals. The Ziglers found a manufacturer that met their standards and helped them create products that aligned with their vision and goals.
The Ziglers have experienced fantastic success. But there have been significant challenges along the way. In 2017, a pharmaceutical company came out with a campaign that used the term EyeLove. It was the name they'd planned to use for their dry eye product. The company sued them and won. The process held up production and required the Ziegler's to rename their line.
They turned to their Facebook community to rename the product. The group came up with Heyedrate, which has proven to be a successful brand despite the delays and challenges.
Other bumps in the road included a European expansion gone wrong, thanks to an ineffective manager. Then, there was the accidentally stackable coupon code disaster that cost a small fortune. However, the challenges taught them valuable lessons along the way.
"We learned from these experiences that you must have proper checks and balances within a business. It's our job to lead our team better," explained Travis.
A Huge Vision
Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler are on a mission to help one million dry eye sufferers. "When you have that big of a mission, you can't let the struggles get in the way," explained Travis. "When something big hits, you'll want to shut down if you're only about the money."
The Ziglers work with a charity that provides eyeglasses and exams to people in underserved countries. They've taken 12 service trips so far. The trips keep them grounded and compel them to stay focused on their mission. Their ultimate goal is to build a sustainable clinic in an underserved area. The clinic will provide the resources to give people their first pair of glasses, so they can have the experience of seeing the blades of grass and leaves on the trees.
"Our entire mission is about serving others," explained Jenna. "By doing that, keeping our head down, and giving them what they want and need… that's how we will continue to experience success."
Top Tips for Building a Facebook Community
The Ziglers' 10,000-members strong Facebook community has been essential to their business growth. We asked them about their top tips for building a group, and they had some great advice to share:
#1: Create Engagement with Content
Their group engagement increased, and numbers grew because they focused on delivering content daily. "If there's a lot of engagement in a community, Facebook is going to push the algorithm up to show the group to the people who might be interested," explained Jenna.
#2: Have Patience
People think you can start a Facebook group and have it blow-up overnight, but that's simply not the case. "To grow a healthy following in a Facebook group, you have to stick with it. Share and connect daily for at least a year to gain momentum," said Jenna.
#3: Use ManyChat
The Ziglers also use ManyChat to send out a blast each time they post. Jenna writes the blogs. Travis creates the videos. Sometimes, they feature interviews with doctors and other professionals in the industry. This is how they increase engagement and offer extra value to their members.
#4: Stay Focused on the Mission
It's easy to get side-tracked in the journey of growing a Facebook group and a business. But the Ziglers say remaining 100% focused on your mission will help you stay inspired. "One thing I love about this business is the emails that I get from our customers sharing how we've changed their lives," said Jenna. "When I get those, it just keeps me going. It's the reason we do what we do every day."
You can learn more – and be part of the mission – at www.eyelovethesun.com and www.eyelovecares.org.