John Marvin: Boost Your Capture Rate

Practice management advice from John Marvin

Master these 3 areas to line up more eyewear sales for your practice

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 edition of INVISION.

This is one of my favorite times of year. During September, you can watch some of the best Major League Baseball of the year, as the long season comes down to a few teams fighting in the last month to make the playoffs. Baseball is a field of dreams for someone who enjoys statistics. But in the book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, author Michael Lewis told how traditional wisdom and time-tested statistics were less important than a new set of analytics that were actually more predictive of the success of players and therefore the team.

The same is true in the eyecare business, where we can point to a set of key predictors of an office’s success. Manage well in September, and the outcome of your month, quarter and year are as certain as the heat and humidity ballplayers endure during the long summer finally fading in fall.

One of the most important of these predictors is what we call the “capture” or “buy” rate. Simply calculated, this is the percentage of people who receive an exam and also purchase prescription eyewear from you. This month and next, I’ll give you a reliable method for pushing this predictor as high as possible.

Over the years, I have done thousands of customer interviews, and I’ve asked people what is most important when they purchase prescription eyewear. This purchase decision is different from the attributes people list as important when they choose a doctor to perform their exam, so it is important to clearly establish that we’re talking about how, why and where they buy their eyewear. I’ve learned through this research that there are three critical factors, so if you want to maximize your capture rate, you have to master these three areas of importance:

1. Variety of selection: Many doctors confuse variety with quantity. You can have a large variety with 600 frames and limited variety with 1,200 frames. It is absolutely essential that you have an inventory strategy that emphasizes variety. You must have something for everyone. There are definite retail trends you should take into account. The person you put in charge of your inventory needs to understand these trends, as well as merchandising and fashion.

2. Knowledgeable salespeople: Believe it or not, buying eyewear is intimidating for most people. They don’t understand the differences in lenses, treatments or the quality of a frame. People feel awkward staring at themselves in a mirror, uncertain what they should be looking for. They need someone they can place their trust in to help them make this important decision. The communication skills and knowledge of the person working with them will make all the difference, especially if their new eyewear helps them see better and look better, too. Establish this trust, and you have made a loyal customer.

3. Competitive pricing: Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, it seemed that patients made their eyewear buying decisions based on the coupons they found in the Sunday newspaper. Large retail chains told customers that they could get glasses in an hour, and not only that, quality eyewear was cheap! Well, over the years, customers became wise to these bait-and-switch tactics. Today, people generally understand that you get what you pay for. While no one wants to spend more than necessary, customers will invest in quality eyewear — as long as the knowledgeable salesperson explains the value and benefit that comes with that investment. You can’t be the most expensive, but you don’t have to be the cheapest.

These three fundamentals are the foundation for a maximum capture rate. In my next column, I’ll explain the one key that makes the difference and turns these fundamentals into a high performance capture rate of 95 percent or even more. It’s the difference between making the postseason and sweeping the World Series.

With more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, John D. Marvin writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. He is president of Texas State Optical, a member-owned cooperative of 120 independent, professional optometry practices. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..