Connect with us
mm

Published

on

TIRED OF BEATING her head against the wall and willing her numbers to go up, Robin Brush took action. In January 2014, Brush, the optical manager at Eyeoptics in Omaha, NE, swapped her usual daily routine for three days alone inside an 1,800-square-foot hotel suite near Las Vegas. Brush wasn’t running from her problems or seeking an escape. Quite the opposite. 

Her trip to Sin City involved a precise mission. In complete silence and sans distractions, Brush brainstormed strategies to drive Eyeoptics’ sales.

“Just me and my notebook,” Brush recalls. “Honestly, I don’t even think I turned on one of the five TVs that were there.”

Among the principal ideas Brush would bring back to her optical business: an energized and strategic focus on selling multiple pairs of eyewear in one transaction, a nod to the recognition that it is easier to sell three pairs of eyewear to one customer than one pair to three individual customers.

A unicorn for many optical businesses, the multiple-pair sale has now become routine practice at Eyeoptics where multiple-pair sales have jumped 15 percent over the last three years, a steady improvement that has boosted the company’s overall performance — and alleviated the pain in Brush’s head.

“Our record, by the way,” Brush beams, “is 14 pairs to one patient.”

Advertisement

While eyecare pros generally recognize that customers benefit from having more than one pair of eyewear in their daily arsenal, translating that belief into sales can be a tough, daunting task. Here’s how some are capturing the multiple pair magic:


Watch your language

At Eyeoptics, Brush and her team don’t talk to customers about “second pairs,” but rather “multiple pairs.”

“If you use ‘second pair,’ you just limited your customer to two pairs … and why would you limit yourself to only two pairs?” Brush says. 

Mix it up

McCulley Optix Gallery in Fargo, ND, offers customers an incentive to purchase multiple pairs, though the exact deal changes each month. Based on sales data from the same quarter the previous year, customers might receive a free frame (the most modest incentive offered during the best performing month in the previous year’s quarter), free lenses (during the worst month from the previous year’s quarter) or 50 percent off the second pair (during the middle-performing month in the previous year’s quarter). The varying incentives help to boost the months where sales historically drag, while further enhancing already high-performing months.

“In October, we did a big trunk show, and our multiple-pair special was a free frame. Fifty-five percent of sales were multiple pairs,” says McCulley office manager Jenna Gilbertson, adding that nearly one in three McCulley patients purchase multiple pairs in a single transaction.

 

Advertisement

Make it charitable

DePoe Eye Center, which has six locations in northern Georgia, offers a twist to the common buy-one-get-one-half-off discount.

Each quarter, the office’s #isee campaign identifies a new charity and invites patients to earn their 50 percent discount on a second pair by bringing in a donation for the designated organization, which has thus far included local groups addressing issues such as hunger, domestic violence and military support.

Before starting the campaign, DePoe practice director Michelle Wright says only about 1 in 10 patients purchased a second pair. Since launching the #isee campaign last October, multiple-pair transactions at DePoe have more than doubled.

“Our patients love a deal and feel great giving back to the community,” Wright says.

Build up to it

Not comfy with giving away so much margin on a second pair of frames? D’Ambrosio Eye Care in Lancaster, MA, offers an alternative method to appease discount-minded consumers. The back of D’Ambrosio’s loyalty card features four circles: Purchase $99+; Non-Glare; Transitions or Polarized; and New Frame. For each category customers check off, they receive an additional 10 percent discount on their total purchase, including additional pairs.

Tap your lab

To make the economics of offering a multi-pair discount work, eyecare pros should tap their lab for a discount. Many labs offer a multiple-pair discount in the range of 30-50 percent, which makes swallowing the lost margin much easier.

Advertisement

Though, Brush reminds, labs won’t necessarily broadcast their deal. “They won’t tell you if you don’t ask,” she says.

Know the insurance providers

In many cases, insurance plans provide consumers a discount for purchasing multiple pairs, an important fact some patients might not know. With familiarity of common insurance plans, staff can introduce a deal that will not only provide incentive for patients to purchase additional pairs, but to do so at no extra expense to the business.

Kathy Maren of Combs EyeCare & EyeWear in Western Springs, IL, says insurer discounts make it easy for patients to justify the larger purchase and the multiple-pair sale “a slam dunk.”

 

Toss in a freebie

Not interested in offering a monetary discount? Then, investigate other ways to boost the value proposition.

Anyone who purchases at least three pairs of eyewear at Dr. Kenneth Boltz’s office in Dublin, OH, receives a free OYO box to safely — and stylishly — store their eyewear. It’s an alternative to multiple-pair discounts and one Boltz believes serves as a long-lasting reminder of his office’s product and service.

“Our patients seem to love this idea and, hopefully, they think of our office each morning when they look at their eyewear wardrobe,” he says.

 

Make it everyone’s responsibility

At DePoe Eye Center, scoring a multi-pair sale is everyone’s responsibility, not solely the optician’s task. In fact, the seeds for a multiple-pair purchase are intentionally planted throughout the process, a strategic focus that has nearly tripled DePoe’s multi-pair sales numbers, according to Wright.

Such a storewide effort includes reception asking appointment-scheduling patients to bring all of their eyewear, including prescription sunglasses and computer glasses to the appointment; techs reviewing the patients’ eyewear and spotlighting insurance benefits as well as any in-house, multi-pair discounts presently available; and doctors reinforcing the benefits of different pairs of eyewear for different situations while the patient is in the chair and then reiterating those personalized suggestions to the optician in the patient’s presence.

Driving home the idea of multiple pairs early and often makes securing a multiple-pair sale in the optical that much easier.

 

Identify special needs

While eyecare pros know different eyewear exists for different needs, patients might not. At Optical Alternatives in Milford, CT, optician Dorothy Reynolds makes sure customers become informed souls.

Reynolds asks patients about their lifestyle, work and hobbies to identify any special needs. Reading in bed? Watching television from a distance? Sitting in front of a computer? If so, are you at eye level, above or below the monitor?

It drives conversation, of course, but also opens the door for Reynolds to explain how different eyewear serves distinct purposes. Those on a computer for hours each day need a pair of computer vision eyewear, while the outdoors enthusiast could certainly use a solid pair of outdoor eyewear.

“I think the patient appreciates that I took the time to ask and point out that one pair will not accomplish every moment of their life,” Reynolds says, adding that the questioning also helps to position her as an eyecare professional invested in customer’s individual needs.

Highlight your personal collection

Maren doesn’t hesitate to tell patients that she owns 36 pairs of eyewear — 28 pairs of regular glasses and eight pairs of sunglasses.

“It is a great selling tool because it tells the patient it is OK to have more than one pair,” says Maren, who has been in the eyewear industry since 1974.

Sweeten the pot

A multi-pair discount is easily the lowest-hanging fruit, as discounts blanket the American retail experience and drive many purchasing decisions.

EyeShop Optical Center in Lewis Center, OH, launched its buy-one-get-one-half-off deal in 2015 and Dr. Cynthia Sayers says the deal becomes a “no-brainer” for most patients, particularly if they are trying to decide between two distinct frames.

“Customers love to get a deal, especially when two or more pairs of glasses make sense for them,” Sayers says.

The special offer, she says, also allows EyeShop to compete with the abundance of 2 for $99-like deals in the marketplace. Buoyed by a discount from its lab, the second pair discount carries performance-driving value for EyeShop, which has seen its multiple-pair sales figures increase about 30 percent since unveiling the special offer to consumers in 2015.

Bell Family Eyecare in Poplar Bluff, MO, offers a similar second pair half-off deal, albeit on sunglasses. After a customer purchases an ophthalmic frame from Ray-Ban, Nike, Diva or Guess, his or her sunglass frames from the same brand are discounted 50 percent.

“It’s become a win-win,” says Bell’s Teresa Davis, who credits the deal, one initially motivated by a Ray-Ban minimum order requirement, with pushing multiple-pair sales up 20 percent.

Give a little something for tomorrow

Some patients simply are not prepared to pull the trigger on a multi-pair purchase today, but the potential to land a follow-up sale remains.

Last year, Nikki Griffin and her team at EyeStyles Optical and Boutique in Oakdale, MN, began handing customers a bookmark that offered the recipient half-off another pair of lenses. The bookmark includes a use-by date and a space to quote the discounted lens price.

“The bookmark is a tangible reminder to use the discount,” Griffin says, noting that her lab provides a discount on second-pair sales within 30 days of the original invoice.

Step out of the sale

Sometimes during the sales process, opticians become their own worst enemy, projecting their shopping habits or sensibilities onto the patient in a way that limits the opportunity for a multi-pair sale.

Pros like Brush and Gilbertson urge staff to remember that the purchasing decision always belongs with the individual consumer. Brush, in fact, urges her opticians to assume the patient wants multiple pairs, even to the point that they have sunglasses in the presentation tray before frame styling the patient.

“Give the patient an opportunity to have different styles,” Gilbertson says. 

 

Show, don’t just tell

“Show, don’t tell” is more than a vibrant storytelling principle practiced by literary geniuses like Hemingway and Steinbeck; it’s also a valuable sales technique with specialized product.

At Mill Creek Optical in Dansville, NY, Jennifer Leuzzi continually places a pair of sunglasses or fitovers on customers and invites them to walk out the front door and to look at car windshields with, and then without, polarized lenses.

“It plants the seeds [of a multi-pair purchase] if nothing else,” Leuzzi says.

Shift the target, change the mindset

In 2014, Eyeoptics handed out spiffs to opticians who sold second, third and fourth pairs. In 2016, however, the office changed its spiff program so opticians only earned a spiff starting at their third pair.

“Selling two pairs is standard. It’s expected,” Brush says, adding that spiffs actually jumped double digits in 2016 despite the higher sales threshold.

Don’t rush to the primary pair

Rather than showing patients their primary eyewear right off the bat, Dr. Joshua Schutte of Modern Optometry in Fairfax, VA, prefers to start the sale with a potential second pair.

“Show sunglasses first and, once they are in love, remind them they need an ophthalmic pair, too,” he says. 

A Closing Word: 

Selling multiple pairs certainly improves immediate revenue, but there is also a long-term benefit: one multi-pair sale to a patient creates an ongoing legacy. 

Gilbertson says many of her recent patients who purchased multiples had done so previously.

“They now come in with the mindset that they need more than one pair,” Gilbertson says.

Once patients live with the benefits of having multiple pairs, they rarely want to go back.  

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

SPONSORED BY KENMARK

Jump In — the Water’s Fine!

With a salute to summer’s shimmery, mermaid colors and warm weather-loving shades, Kenmark Eyewear celebrates this summer’s Aloha spirit with eyewear from Vera Wang, Kensie, Zac Posen and the Original Penguin Collection!

Promoted Headlines

Headlines

Here’s How Eyecare Pros Are Spending Their Advertising Budgets

The pie is getting sliced ever more finely.

mm

Published

on

IN INVISION’S FIRST annual Big Survey, we asked more than 500 ECPs which medium accounts for the biggest chunk of their ad and marketing spending. Print is still on top, but the marketing budget pie is getting sliced ever more finely — and nearly 1 in 5 ECPs claim to be passing on the plate all together.

Which gets the largest portion of your marketing budget?

Print
13%
Community events (including sponsorships)
12%
Direct mail
10%
Other social media marketing
8%
Paid search (PPC, Google Ads, etc.)
7%
Facebook
7%
Email marketing
7%
Radio
5%
SEO
5%
Television
2%
Billboards
2%
Other
3%
Don’t advertise
19%

 

Looking at the above results, it’s seems likely the 19 percent of ECPs who said they don’t advertise are relying on word of mouth to sustain their business. Still, it appears to pay to be more active: 25 percent of the ECPs who told the Big Survey the last two years had been their worst ever also don’t advertise. That compares to just 14 percent of those who said those years had been their best ever. Also worth considering: In a separate question, we asked ECPs to name the most significant thing they were doing to drive sales five years ago that they’ve stopped doing. The top answer? You guessed it—advertising in traditional media. Check out the survey to see how your spending fits in to this complex picture.

The 2019 Big Survey was conducted from August to October and attracted responses from more than 500 American ECPs. Look out for the full results in the November/December issue of INVISION.

Continue Reading

Best of Eyecare

The Big Survey 2019 – The Basics

mm

Published

on

THE BIG SURVEY 2019

Who is the American ECP? How does he or she do business? What are the main challenges they face? Our inaugural Big Survey set out to find the answers and 505 owners and managers of American vision businesses answered our call. Here are the results.

The Basics

We find it’s always best to start at the beginning … the basic stuff that makes up so much of your business’ identity. The Who, What, How and Where are all here; we’ll get into the fun stuff — like how much and what’s selling ­— later on.

1. Need to swing on chandeliers? Head to Missouri: 60 percent of stores have these fixtures.
2. They don’t take kindly to strangers asking questions in South Dakota. It, along with Louisiana and New Mexico, were the only states not to be represented in our survey.
3. Michigan ECPs are some of the hardest working in the industry: 25 percent work more than 50 hours a week.
4. Eyewear trend capital? That might just be New York where 21 percent of ECPs thought of themselves as being primarily in the fashion business (as opposed to health or retail), the highest level in the land.
5. Move over Austin. Connecticut was tops for self-declared weirdness with ECPs there giving themselves an average score of 8.2 out of 10 on our oddball scale.
6. Ohio ECPs have been listening to our sales experts – 44 percent use role-playing in training staff.
7. Florida had the most male owners and managers in our survey at 76 percent. Washington state had the most female owners at 86 percent.
8. Is there something in the water in the Midwest? ECPs in a band of states from Illinois to Ohio to Missouri were the happiest vision professionals (along with their cousins in NJ), with half or more (50-57%) ranking themselves 9 or higher out of 10 for professional satisfaction.
9. North Carolina vision businesses have among the highest turnover rates in the country, with 72 percent saying their staff stay less than 4 years.
10. Californian ECPs were the least likely to own their places of business with 82 percent renting. Must have been those pesky legal limitations…
11. Kansans were most likely to be open on Sunday with one in four stores and practices open on this traditional “rest” day.

Advertisement

1. How many locations does your business have?

One
74%
Two
13%
Three to five
8%
Six or more
5%

2. Please indicate the type of location that houses your store:

Free-standing building
43%
A strip mall
22%
Business park or office building
16%
Downtown storefront
9%
Lifestyle center
3%
In a hospital/medical wing/health center
3%
The Internet
1%
Mobile practice
1%
A mall
1%
Other
2%

3. Do you own or rent your business property?

Own
39%
Rent
62%
NA (For online and mobile only businesses)
2%
Advertisement

4. How well are things going in your business this year?

COMMENT: As our heat map shows, there’s very little to be blue about for an ECP right now. Note that white indicates states with statistically invalid responses. Figures in parentheses represent the number of survey responses.

5. How would you describe the market where your store is located?

Large city
15%
Medium-sized city (250,000-1 million people)
24%
Small city (25,000 to 250,000)
29%
Country town (up to 25,000)
13%
Resort area
1%
Other
1%

6. How long has your business been in operation?

COMMENT: Businesses that have been in operation for 11-20 years seem to be this survey’s sweet spot. Not only did they slightly edge out other lengths of time in business, as seen above, but those in business for that long also reported the highest proportion of revenue between $500K-$1.5M (50%).
Wondering what the rest of this group’s demos looked like? Well, 59 percent classified themselves as a private practice with a strong focus on retail, 49 percent were in the South and 39 percent operated out of a freestanding building in a small city or suburb. Forty-five percent of owners in business for that long reported salaries over $100,000 and, best of all, the majority reported their satisfaction with their professional life at an 8 or higher (66%).

7. Which description of your business do you most closely identify with?

Hospital or VA setting
1%
Medical model private practice, no retail
1%
Medical model private practice, small dispensarybuilding
22%
Private practice, strong focus on retail
53%
Corporate optometry location
3%
Eyewear boutique, employed or leased OD
10%
Eyewear boutique, no OD
9%
Mobile optician
1%

8. How big is your (main) location?

Less than 500 sq. ft.
4%
500-999 sq. ft.
10%
1,000-1,499 sq. ft.
24%
1,500-1,999 sq. ft.
17%
2,000-2,499 sq. ft.
15%
2,500-2,999 sq. ft.
11%
3,000-3,999 sq. ft.
8%
4,000-5,000 sq. ft.
6%
More than 5,000 sq. ft.
5%

9. Check the paid services you offer:

Continue Reading

Best of Eyecare

25 ECPs Share Their Elevator Pitches

25 ECPs put who they are and what they do for a living in a sentence or two… or three.

mm

Published

on

OK… You’ve slipped into the elevator just as the doors are closing. The woman on your left is wearing poorly fitting frames that are totally wrong for her. The gentleman to your right is squinting as he tries to find the button for his floor. You sense a golden opportunity, but the floors are already ticking by. You’ve got until those doors open again to tell these potential clients what you do and how you can help them. It’s time to dust off your “elevator pitch.” Our Brain Squad members are rarely at a loss for a few well-chosen words, so we asked them their best pitches. Here’s what they had to say to those future customers and patients on the subject of… you.

Hi, My name is Diana Canto Sims. I am an eyeball doctor turned eyewear designer for the diverse and the bold. What do you do? — Diana Sims, Buena Vista Optical, Chicago, IL

We help you create a look that is as unique as you are. — Doreen Erbe, Snyder Eye Group, Ship Bottom, NJ

I create complete custom eyewear by hand in Glenview. This includes the frames as well as the lenses. — Kevin Count, Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL

I am the owner and doctor at an eyecare office focused on pampering our patients.  — Nytarsha Thomas, OD, Visionelle Eyecare, Zionsville, IN

I can easily knock 10 years off your look and I promise people will notice! — Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY

We sell unique eyewear from all over the world.” (Then give a few specific examples of exotic materials. However, never oversell or seem pushy. Just plant the seed!!!)”  — Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH

You know the eyes are the windows to the soul right? Sometimes the windows cannot see; I help with that. I am an optometrist.” — Selina McGee, OD, Precision Vision, Edmond, OK

I refine one of your five senses. I give you vision and insight into your health, with a twist of style, all while having a good time in the process. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH

I explain that I run a practice for an eye doctor and that our goal is to make sure each patient sees well and is educated on the products and materials we wear ourselves. — Amy Pelak, Proview Eyecare Optometry, Corona, CA

I help people love their new eyewear, and owning 31 pairs of glasses and sunwear, I know I can find the right pair for you. — Kathy Maren Comb EyeCare & Eyewear, Western Springs, IL

I talk about the unique things our practice offers like sensory and vision therapy. We carry a variety of frames for the whole family. From durable kids, to the fun and funky for mom and dad. We’re not your average eye doctor.” Heather Nagucki, Brodie Optometry, Perrysburg, OH

I compliment someone on their glasses. I may ask them where they got them and always say something nice about their doctor or optician. I know everyone in town after 50 years in Sacramento. If the patient discusses a bad experience then I drop a business card.”  — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA

I help people see and look better.  — Jason Stamper Eye Care Pavilion, Davenport, IA

I tell them I try not to look like an optometrist! — Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA

When I meet people I always try to tell them I’m like a pharmacist for your eyeglasses. — Bob Schmittou, New Eyes Optical, Wyandotte, MI

I’m an optician. Once the eye doctor is done with you I will help you with any optical needs whether glasses or contacts. Basically, I make you look good! — Scott Felten, Fox Valley Family Eye Care, Little Chute, WI

We get to help people see to their fullest potential. It’s the best job in the world! — Caitlin Bruno, Binyon Vision Center, Bellingham, WA

I’m like a pharmacist. I fill the prescription written by the doctor. But in Michigan, your optician doesn’t have to have a license the way your pharmacist does. That’s why there are so many people walking around in ugly glasses that can’t see.  — Dave Goodrich, Goodrich Optical, Lansing, MI

I bend light for a living. — Jon LaShorne, Kirkpatrick Eye Care, Madison, IN

I frame the windows to your soul with beauty. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA

I have no elevator pitch. I just let people know why I love doing what I do.” — Pablo E. Mercado, Mount Vernon Eyecare, Dunwoody, GA

Nice glasses! I bet they cost you a fortune. I’m an optician. Here’s my card. Next time you’re in the market for a new pair, give me a call and I’ll save you money.” — Mitchell Kaufman, Marine Park Family Vision, Brooklyn, NY

Everyone knows what a pharmacist does … so I equate my career as a licensed optician to that. I take a prescription from a doctor and I interpret that prescription. I advise and educate the patient on how to use the prescription written. I generate a product from that prescription and then dispense that prescription as a piece of medical equipment.”  — William Chancellor, Eye Can See Eyewear, McDonough, GA

We help people see the important things in life.” — John Marvin, Texas State Optical Inc., Houston, TX

Continue Reading

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Subscribe


BULLETINS

Get the most important news and business ideas for eyecare professionals every weekday from INVISION.

Instagram

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: API requests are being delayed for this account. New posts will not be retrieved.

There may be an issue with the Instagram Access Token that you are using. Your server might also be unable to connect to Instagram at this time.

Error: No posts found.

Make sure this account has posts available on instagram.com.

Error: admin-ajax.php test was not successful. Some features may not be available.

Please visit this page to troubleshoot.

Most Popular