Providing the best care and service to patients means something different to different practices. In my practice, part of what that entails is making it easy and convenient for patients to buy their eyewear in our optical. We know that we will provide personalized attention and quality that patients can appreciate and depend on.
We proactively educate patients about what we have to offer in our optical and how they will ultimately benefit from buying glasses from us. In an age with eroding optical sales within private practices, our solutions have resulted in a 65-70 percent capture rate for purchases of total eyewear.
Three Eyewear Packages for Patients to Choose From We never want patients to buy their eyewear elsewhere because they feel their options are limited at our office or too confusing to easily understand. While our first choice for the patient is the highest quality frames and lenses, there are times when a patient’s budget cannot accommodate such an expense.
Therefore, we created three eyewear packages that make it simple and affordable for patients to keep their eyewear purchase at our office. These packages are not patients’ only options. Patients still have the ability to choose any frame or lens combination in our optical. The eyewear packages are intended to be alternatives to a patient taking their prescription and purchasing online or from a big-box retailer.
It’s noteworthy that although we had considered offering eyewear packages for several years, we hadn’t taken the time and effort to execute this design until returning from the COVID shutdown. We knew a portion of our patients had fallen on challenging financial times, and we felt it important to provide a feasible solution for these patients to maintain their best sight correction. Our eyewear packages break down as follows:
Package #1 Single-Vision Including frame, lenses, UV and anti-reflective treatment $149
Package #2 Bifocal glasses Including frame, lenses, UV and anti-reflective treatment $289
Package #3 Progressives Including frame, lenses, UV and anti-reflective treatment $389
Each of these packages is as much of a win for the practice as it is for patients, as each represents a three times markup from our inventory costs.
We developed the packages in response to the additional strain put on our practice by the pandemic, but they have become a permanent offering to patients.
These optical packages are not on-brand for our practice. We are proud of our middle-to high-end optical and typically don’t try or want to compete with online and big-box opticals. That said, our eyewear packages are aimed at keeping the conversation open with the patient instead of having them walk out the door without anything of value for them to consider as an option for their eyewear.
Open a Dialogue With the Patient The eyewear packages give us an easy-to-explain option for patients, which, at the very least, opens a dialogue that often leads to the patient developing trust and connection with our optician. We are often successful in helping the patient buy one of our packages instead of walking with their prescription, which may develop a buying pattern that is hard to break in the future. Interestingly, we’ve found that at times the trust developed results in not only a package sale, but a full-value purchase of glasses outside of the package.
Let’s say a patient walks in with the idea of buying glasses online. Instead of just printing out their prescription and giving it to them, we initiate a dialogue that encourages the patient to at least sit down with an optician to discuss glasses. Once we’re able to have them sit down to talk, we discuss the quality of materials and measurements within our office, as well as the frustrations and concerns which patients who bought glasses elsewhere have experienced. For example, we talk about our patients who buy glasses online and are disappointed when their spectacles break or need to be adjusted, and they have no recourse because those are not services an online seller will provide. Alternatively, if purchased from us, we’re there for the patient, standing behind our glasses by providing ongoing support for the new eyewear investment.
When a patient walks in and asks for their spectacle Rx or PD measurement, it’s important that the first thing we say to a patient is “YES, we’d be happy to provide that for you.” The last thing we want to do is to try to change the patient’s mind without acknowledging they asked us for something, and it’s theirs by law. Then, we ask the patient for their thoughts on buying glasses–what they are looking for and what their top goals are for their new glasses. “Thank you so much for sharing that with me,” we respond, “we have a lot of options that can fit many different budgets, and if cost is a concern, we would love to be able to discuss why we’re different, including the quality we provide. Would it be OK if we set a time for you to sit down with one of our opticians?”
Train Team to Empower Patients Patients may only be thinking of how to buy their glasses as inexpensively as possible because they think of their glasses as a commodity. The job of the doctor and practice team is to educate patients on why glasses are so much more. That means first educating both doctors and the rest of the team on a patient dialogue for detailing the differentiators between our glasses and those purchased elsewhere.
Our whole team roles-plays together potential conversations with patients, as these conversations with patients can happen anywhere, from the reception desk, pretest, the exam room and into the optical. We want everyone in the office to know how to educate patients about the value of quality eyewear. We take the time out of patient care to practice our dialogue because, just like any sports team that functions at a high level, practice makes better. We also make sure our team knows it’s our responsibility as their eyecare providers to educate patients from the heart about their choices. Therefore, the dialogue is not about making a sale or being disagreeable; it’s about doing our job for the patient.
We often say to patients: “You may be surprised to learn that your glasses can do more than just help you see. The right pair of glasses can help prevent eye disease and skin cancer around the eyes by offering protection against harmful radiation from the sun. Consistently wearing glasses that filter this radiation can delay the development of cataracts, and can reduce the chances of developing age-related macular degeneration.”
Give Patients a Sense of Security & Generate Revenues Another win for our team was instituting, soon after introducing our eyewear packages, a warranty for our eyewear called the “Complete Care Copay” for which we charge $25. It works like this: within one year of purchase, no matter what happens to a patient’s glasses, we will replace them at no charge. It covers anything from a dog got them to dropping them on the pavement, something defective with the frame or a toddler damaging them. We give them a new pair one time for no additional cost. If the damaged frame is no longer available, we give them a credit for the amount paid for the frame toward a new pair.
We started offering this warranty policy in summer 2020, and by year’s end, we had generated $18,000 profit, after the expense we incur when a patient has to have their glasses replaced. It’s a win for the practice financially, and now our patients have a low-cost solution if something unforeseen happens. It gives the patient an added sense of security–and it’s an offering not available for glasses bought elsewhere.
As we consider our patients’ needs and wants, they usually prefer to have both their care and glasses provided by our office. It’s important to climb inside their heads to understand, from their perspective, what would enable them to accomplish this. Through our optical packages and Complete Care Copay, we’ve been able to increase patient loyalty and our own profitability.
I hope this helps give you ideas on what you could do in your own offices. If I can be of service or point you to the lab we use for our eyewear packages, feel free to reach out to me through my contact information below. Here’s to wishing you success in the New Year!