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Mark Hinton

What to Focus On After Your Doors Open

Be prepared to hear: ‘I just want my prescription today.’

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CONSUMERS WILL BE tighter with their discretionary dollars. Patients are consumers.

When patients/consumers were self-quarantining, much of their entertainment was TV. And TV is a big voice for Big Box and internet eyewear companies vying to gain your patients.

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Be prepared for patients to say: “I just want my prescription today.” Their experience tells them your glasses cost a lot more than internet or Big Box glasses, and increasingly, their friends and colleagues are telling them about the great deal they got at “Elsewhere Optical.”

Patients will use their vision plan benefits for their exam, and then leave to buy glasses for less, elsewhere. Why? Because the benefits cost them $100 average, or less, for one year and they know it’s worth it to cover the cost of the exam alone.

But if they can buy glasses for less somewhere else and still submit a receipt to their vision plan for some reimbursement they will. Consumers are savvy.

Some competitive players have e-commerce and brick and mortar locations; some have created a cult-like presence through social media; people who buy from these sources want a good “deal.”

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What can you do?

You must go to the big box stores and websites your patients (consumers) are telling your optical experts they’ll go to and mystery shop them for both SV and PALs complete. Now you know what price and COGs you need to compete against.

Yes, compete.

You must then develop a “save-the-sale” frame/lens/AR bundled SV and PAL package to combat the RX walkouts. It’s far more difficult to regain a patient than to retain the patient. They want to buy from you but they don’t want to spend more than they feel they need to … often based on TV ads, friends, colleagues, and social media impressions. Stock finished SV/AR Poly lenses — if you don’t edge make an agreement for your lab to provide these for under $10 a pair for you to send them with the frame for an edging fee; negotiate!

Work with your brand reps and your labs to provide you with PAL lenses with AR for $50 to $80. You can buy frames for dimes on the dollar all day, and your usual frame providers have many frames available for $20 and under. Dig deep!

In our offices, we emphasize the idea that patients need two or more sets of glasses, so we created incentive plans: buy the first at this price, buy a second pair and save more, buy a third and save even more. Make pricing simple and attractive. If possible, who doesn’t want to own four or five pairs of glasses?

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The entire team should be trained to confidently and cheerfully answer the patient who says “I just want my prescription today” with “I’m happy to help you, who are you considering to make glasses for you?” When the response is some “Big Box” equivalent, they can respond “I hear you, do you want more affordable choices for eyeglasses? We can help you with this. It may surprise you to know we have gorgeous affordable choices in a range of cost that will bring a smile to your face.

Knowing this, does it make sense to have us match your glasses?”

You are more likely to increase your capture answering in a helpful, direct way. Many of my clients have revived their eyewear capture from 40ish percent to more than 70 percent simply using this dialog. Practice it, record it on your cell phone and then practice it again.

The days of discretionary dollars are gone for now, be ready to help your patients understand how and why you and your team are the most logical source for all of their eyewear wants!

Mark Hinton is a practice owner, as well as CEO and president of eYeFacilitate, a private practice consultancy. A sought-after ABO/COPE approved practice management expert, with eYeFacilitate he helps practices drive optical efficiencies, maximize managed care revenue and profit, improve capture, and increase revenue through simple systems with a focused process. Email him at [email protected]

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