How to Capture the Second Wave of Back-to-School Sales

By Linda Hardy, LDO, CPOT, COA

Sept. 30, 2015

Mid- to late-summer is a key time to focus on back-to-school sales, but that’s only the first round of young patients who will walk through your door. The second round comes mid-fall, after the first report cards–and concerns of vision challenges–arrive. Here are six strategies with the potential to increase your children and teen eyewear sales well into the fall.

The optical at Newnan Family Eye Care in Newnan, Ga., where Hardy works as an optician. Hardy says to maximize the opportunity presented by the second wave of back-to-school sales by educating parents and children about how additional eyewear can protect their eyes and improve their lives.

Children Need Back-Up Glasses

It’s easy enough for an adult to misplace, or accidentally sit on or step on their glasses, but for children, glasses mishaps are practically an epidemic.

Who hasn’t heard of the child whose glasses fall off playing sports, or roughhousing on the lawn, and promptly get smashed by a friend’s foot? Or the child who goes on a Girl Scout camp out, and somehow manages to lose her glasses some time between the morning hike and roasting marshmallows over the fire after dinner.

Back-up glasses are a good idea for any patient, but for a child, they are essential, especially if doing without vision correction poses a safety risk to the child, or makes it hard for him to do his school work.

Once you have gotten the initial sale of the primary glasses taken care of, it is always a great idea to try and sell a back-up pair of glasses. This goes both for students, as well as teachers, who may also be your patients.

How many times have you heard a patient tell you that if their glasses broke they wouldn’t know what to do? Well, back-to-school visits offer a prime opportunity to make sure that situation never arises.

I always make sure to have a large selection of budget frames to choose from, and have discounts in place to be prepared for the opportunity to sell back-up glasses.

Sample doctor/optician-to-parent script: “Mary, I’m so glad Kevin will now be able to do his homework, and see the board, more clearly with these new glasses. Now, let’s see what we can do about a back-up pair. You’ve seen yourself how easy it is to accidentally break or lose a pair of glasses. Let’s see what we can do to make sure Kevin doesn’t have to spend any time having trouble doing his school work, and other activities, because he doesn’t have his glasses.”

Contact Lens-Wearing Children Need Glasses They Love

Just as all adults, who wear contact lenses to compensate for vision, need a pair of glasses they won’t dread wearing, so, too, do children. Young patients are probably even more likely than adults to avoid wearing glasses they feel make them look “dorky.” Whereas in decades past, eyewear styles and options were limited, today there is no excuse for all children and teens, who wear contact lenses, not to also have a pair of glasses they look forward to wearing.

When children patients have glasses they love, they won’t have any reason to continue wearing their contacts while experiencing eye discomfort, an infection, or another condition that threatens their eye health. In addition, having stylish glasses means the child may choose, even when their eyes are well, to give their eyes a break from the contacts a couple times a week because they enjoy wearing their glasses so much. These patients not only need a year supply of contacts, but a pair of glasses to wear once they remove their contacts. You can offer  package pricing for all annual contact lens supply sales to make getting a new pair of glasses more feasible.

Sample doctor/optician-to-parent script: “Ben, we have an opportunity in our optical that will make it easier for you to get Courtney a new pair of glasses today, along with her contacts. With the purchase of an annual supply of contact lenses, you would be entitled to half-off a complete pair of glasses. According to our records, it’s been a few  years since Courtney’s last new pair of glasses. There are lot of new eyewear fashions and styles that have become available since that time. How about we let Courtney take a look at some of these new frames, and see what she thinks?”

Keys to Prescribing to Capture Opportunity

PRESCRIBE & PROVIDE BACK-UP GLASSES. Teach patients why a good pair of back-up glasses is worth the investment.

PRESCRIBE GLASSES FOR CL WEARERS. Let parents know that if children love their glasses they’re less likely to over-wear them, or wear them with eye irritations.

PRESCRIBE & PROVIDE SPORTS GLASSES. Point out the need for sports glasses, especially for the sports the child might have just started this fall.

PRESCRIBE & PROVIDE COMPUTER GLASSES. Educate parents about the blue light risk from electronic devices, and how computer glasses relieve eye strain.

PRESCRIBE & PROVIDE SUNWEAR. Explain to parents that sunwear is more than a fashion accessory; that it is important eye protection.

KEEP ADEQUATE STOCK OF PRODUCTS. Be sure to have enough frame, sunwear, sports glasses and CLs to let parents and children try it all out while still in your office.

Prescribe & Provide Sports Glasses

Many of the children and teen patients who come into your office in the second wave will be newly enrolled in sports they have never played before. The child who just this fall started playing for the football team, or the local softball league, will need glasses they can wear while they play their favorite sport. You have an opportunity to emphasize to parents not only the importance of protecting the child’s eyes from injury, but the chance to improve the child’s athletic performance with enhanced visual acuity.

Sports glasses are a great option. With a huge amount of students playing sports from basketball to baseball, football to swimming, there is always the need for a pair of glasses that are not only durable enough to play in, but also safe for the patient. Sports goggles are a great way to increase sells, but also to protect the eye health of your patients.

Sample doctor/optician-to-parent script: “Sandra, Joy needs a pair of glasses especially for when she plays softball. We can put her into glasses with a strong lens that won’t shatter if the ball hits it, and has temples (the part that goes behind the ears) that make it hard for the glasses to fall off when she slides into second base. These sports safety glasses also will protect her eyes if she gets hit in the face, which could mean the difference between losing and keeping an eye. We can use our second-pair discount, in which we offer a reduction on the cost of the frames on second pairs, to make getting sports glasses for Joy easier.”

Prescribe & Provide Computer & Electronic Device Eyewear

Don’t miss the opportunity to educate every young patient and his or her parents on the value of glasses for computer and electronic device use. The child’s difficulty seeing the blackboard, or reading their books, may be the reason they arrive in your office this fall, but that’s no reason not to bring up other needs, like eyewear that prevents digital eye fatigue syndrome.

Both doctor and optician should educate families on how a pair of glasses with AR and blue light-blocking technology, can make computer and digital device use both easier and safer. With the amount of work increasing on computers and smartphones, the more eye strain patients will have. This is a wonderful way to introduce patients to lens treatments like AR , BluTech and the yellow contrast tints that can help.

Sample doctor/optician-to-parent script: “Tim, I think we should talk about getting Joey computer glasses today, which he can also use when reading or playing games on his phone and iPad. New research has shown that the blue light emitted from computers, electronic devices, and even LED lights, can, over time, damage the inside of the eye, making conditions like macular degeneration more likely in the future. Plus, the glare from computers and devices puts a strain on the eyes that can make their use more difficult, and less enjoyable, for Joey. May I show you and Joey some of the options we have for computer glasses?”

Protect Young Patients’ Eyes from the Sun

All patients, and especially children, who typically spend a lot of time outdoors, need protection from the harmful effects of the sun on vision and eye health. Doctors and opticians should explain to parents that sunwear is far from an optional fashion accessory–it’s a necessity for everyone, including children. Offer sunglass promotional sales on their own, or give patients the option of using their second-pair discount on a new pair of sunwear for their children. Prescription or non- prescription, everyone needs a good pair of sunglasses, especially contact lens wearers. And in the early fall, there are many frame companies that have great sunglass promotions. This allows for offices to have a great supply of sunglasses to choose from.

Sample doctor/optician-to-parent script: “Tom, Susie could really use a pair of sunglasses that protect her eyes when she’s outside. Even in the fall and winter, protection from the sun is essential. The glare of the sun off of snow and ice poses just as significant, if not worse, danger to the eyes as the sun at the beach in July. The sunglasses Susie wears now, which you showed me earlier, don’t offer adequate protection from ultra-violet radiation. Let’s take a look at some of the sunwear styles that you might like, Susie, and which will protect your eyes much better than the sunglasses you have now.”

Keep An Adequate Stock of Frames, Sunwear and Sports Eyewear

It’s not enough for the doctor and opticians to educate all parents and children about the need for additional eyewear that can protect their eyes and enhance their vision. You also need to have those products immediately available in your optical. Have plenty of eyewear, as well as contact lenses, in stock. People want to see and touch the products they are buying. Plan ahead and take advantage of frame sales and contact lens banks with your distributors. Let parents know that you have the very products you educated them about right in your optical.

Sample doctor/optician-to-parent script: “Fran, fortunately, we have exactly the kinds of sports glasses right in our optical for Billy to try on today, and we also just got in a new shipment of frames that I’d like to show you. I think they’re exactly the kind of frames Billy said he was looking for. We also have those contact lenses I recommended available in Billy’s prescription, so I can go ahead and give him a week’s worth of trial lenses to take home.”



Linda Hardy, LDO, CPOT, COA, is an optician at Newnan Family Eye Care in Newnan, Ga. To contact:

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