By Colleen Hannegan, ABOC, CPO
August 29, 2018
Lens remakes of eyewear can be costly, in both the cost of the lens itself, as well as the time it takes your staff to work with the patient again, and place the reorder.
At the optical shop where I currently work, out of 100 remakes, 40 percent would be warranty re-dos of scratches, (with or without AR coating), 30 percent would be due to progressive seg-height changes, 20 percent would be doctor-driven prescription changes and 10 percent would be tied to lack of customer satisfaction.
We have a one time re-do on lens changes at no charge, no matter what. We have an agreement with our lab that, if done within an agreed time frame, the lab doesn’t charge us for the lenses, so that for the first re-do, our practice would just be charged $2.50 for shipping. More significant is the time of our optician, who spends at least a half hour total working with patient a second time, re-doing start to finish. I estimate the cost of her time to be $40 per remake. Remakes also take the time of our lab optician, who spends anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes re-edging the work. I would estimate the cost of his time at $30 per remake. If you factor in the other work our staff is being taken away from, such as facilitating sales, the total estimated cost comes to $72.50 per remake.
Here are some of the ways I’ve learned, over my three decades of work as an optician, to limit remake requests.
Clarity in Conversation. Lens discussion before frame choice.
Before an optician picks up a frame to show the patient, they should look at the new Rx, evaluate previous prescriptions filled and ask a few important questions of the patient.
Sometimes I find myself chasing a patient around the retail area trying to discuss lenses and Rx while they go shopping for the new and colorful frame styles on display. It’s best to try and have them sit with you and discuss all they expect from their new Rx before the shopping begins. For instance, a patient’s prescription may be better suited for a more gentle oval shape with those -9.00’s with -4.00 cyl.’s than that cool, oversized aviator in a 63 eye size they just tried on and fell in love with.
Evaluating a new Rx also means comparing to a previous Rx. Notice any big changes? Was there prism on previous Rx, and not on this new one? Is that a typo, or is prism no longer needed? Any caring OD will appreciate an optician double-checking before making an assumption.
Other key questions: Does the doctor want the patient to wear these glasses all day, or just for night driving, movies, or when their eyes are fatigued? What does your patient expect to get out of these glasses? Have you discussed a separate pair for extended computer use?
Repeating a patient’s answers back to them is a easy way to confirm you’re listening, and for them to be sure what they mean to say.
More Selective Choice of Frames
In our conversation with a patient, consider how often we say “I like this one on you.” Try taking the word “I” out of the discussion. It’s not about you. It’s about assisting someone else to choose wisely, to like, and feel comfortable in, their new glasses.
Try: “This frame fits your bridge perfectly, and has that lighter tortoise color you’re looking for.”
Or: “Your eye color stands out beautifully in this frame, and it’s not too wide across the front.”
If they try on a frame they love, but you know is not a good fit, try: “It’s a gorgeous frame, but see how it’s not fitting well on your bridge, and sits down on your cheeks? Let me show you how this alternate frame solves your fit needs, and offers a great color choice for you!”
Our responsibility is to lead them wisely. If they insist on what you feel is a bad choice, let them see you make a note on their chart that they chose, and you advised against, that 64 eye size aviator thin metal frame with a -8.00 -4.00 090 OU Rx.
Standardize Eyewear Measurement Procedure
Set a standard procedure for measuring for eyewear. When Joe measures seg heights like this, Mary measures them that way, and Terry prefers to measure this way, you have a divided staff with varied ways of filling orders. Which way is correct?
No matter who serves the patient, measuring for PD’s, seg. heights and O.C.’s heights should be uniform.
It’s best to measure a seg. height with the patient standing in their natural posture. Take note of the patient’s posture. Do they stand with their head tilted back? Are their shoulders hunched? Be sure staff takes the time to recognize the details required to measure precisely.
If you have filled prescriptions in the past for the patient, asked how they liked that last pair of glasses, and if there is anything they would like to be different this time.
Better Patient Education About Warranties
Be clear about frame warranty, what it is, and is not. Most frame manufacturers offer a 365-day defect warranty.
Dog chewing up glasses, leaving them in a hot car so they melt, obvious abuse, and tossing them into the bottom of a purse without the protective case, invalidates a warranty. Best to be clear upfront.
There are many offices that have a one time re-do, no-questions-asked warranty. Whatever your policy is, be sure staff communicates the same guidelines, and that the patient understands those guidelines.
Prescription-change warranty is most commonly a one-time, no-charge re-do. What varies between offices and their lab agreement is how many months a prescription re-do is. Thirty days, 90 days, 180 days? Again, everyone, in your office and lab, should be on the same page.
How many days do you offer non-adapt re-dos to patients? Wearing progressives is much easier for today’s presbyopes due to digital technology and the variety of lens choices, but there remains the patient who wants to change back to single-vision lenses. The patient should understand exactly how long your office permits them to have a remake back to single-vision done at no additional charge.
Get a Second Opinion
Asking for a second opinion from an optical manager, or OD, can reduce needed remakes. Having two qualified staff deciding on the changes in a re-do protects staff, and makes it clear to the patient that there won’t be a third re-do. It offers your patient reassurance that two experts are on hand to listen, and be twice as effective on making this remake a one time thing.
If the patient still isn’t happy after the remake, that second optician, or OD, can come in handy, to verify the conversation that took place with the patient before the remake request was sent to the lab.
Limit Remakes to One at a Time
A patient has three pairs of glasses they want to have re-made with their new prescription. Whether they’ve brought this prescription from another office, or the exam was done in-house, if the Rx is a huge change from before, suggest making one pair with the new prescription to be sure they will wear it well, before filling all pairs.
It’s tempting to take the eyewear order for $2,400 instead of $800, but the time and hassle of re-dos makes doing it one at a time the best option.
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Colleen Hannegan, ABOC, CPO, a licensed optician, owns Spirited Business Advisor. This consultancy works with small businesses, including independent eyecare practices, on how best to serve customers and generate profitability. To contact her: email@example.com