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Mark Hinton

Distinguish Your Eyecare Business from Others

Words matter. Use yours to set yourself apart.




PEOPLE, CUSTOMERS, PATIENTS, consumers — they’re distinct, different, varied. They come in all sizes, shapes, styles, moods, emotions, and more. So how do you make sure your business captivates all these personalities?

Working with clients, I often notice that we are very “transactional” in our offices. “Next!” But people want to feel special and a person’s name is a powerful differentiator. People like to do business with people they like! Have your front office ask: “Ms. Smith; do you prefer we know you as Patricia or another name?” And then add to their file for all the team to introduce themselves and use the person’s chosen name throughout their visit: “Pat, it’s nice to see you today, my friends call me Carol.” As they say, “they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Taking the time to reevaluate your patient base or clientele will help you choose frames for the varied ethnic groups you service. In 2019, after observing the patients entering and exiting an office, I asked if they had considered a well-known brand with strong roots in a specific culture. They were concerned about adding the line, as it would retail for $500 to $700+ with a sizable buy-in. After a time, they did invest and 18 sold in a month. It’s worth it to differentiate and diversify your frame lines. Keep it fresh.

When you refresh your frame lines, reach out to clients with a “Savings Certificate” to add to their collection. People who own three or more sets of glasses never want just one, ever again.

Examine your lens cost-of-goods and ask your lab for information and cost for their in-house progressives and AR treatments: often you will find superior products at a fraction of the trade advertised “brand” cost. These products, including finished stock single vision lenses, let you care for your self-pay price-conscious patients who may otherwise request their prescriptions to buy for less elsewhere. You can develop a multiple pair incentive: one pair for $X, two for added savings, and three for the best savings.

Avoid industry talk; most patients do not understand, or respond well, to words like “material,” “1.67,” “PD,” “poly” and so on. It is also beneficial to point out that managed vision care plans are in fact vision “savings” plans; they don’t actually insure the patient, but provide huge savings for routine eye exam care. It doesn’t make sense to refer to them as “insurance” with your patients. Insurance is something we have to buy and don’t want to cash in on any more than necessary. Actual insurance plans cost a lot and include high deductibles; vision savings plans cost very little and don’t contain high deductibles. Other words to avoid are “covered,” “allowance,” “overage,” “add-on” and “out of pocket,” as these money words cause anxiety. Differentiate your office and say “benefit,” “contributes,” “included” and “savings” to keep it positive. We are conditioned to say these words but they don’t come across in a positive way. Break the habit.


You can’t trust OTC plano sunglasses from department stores — many don’t have permanent sun filters — so ask where the patient bought theirs. If it was at a department store, advise them of the risk, and prescribe a pair you trust, explaining the benefits. This is important for those patients with a pinguecula, and all contact lens patients, to avoid future risk.

Words matter. Use yours to set yourself apart.


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