David I. Geffen, OD, FAAO
My practice has a thriving dry eye practice. On average, we see about 20 dry eye patients per month and generate approximately 5 percent of our income from dry eye-related visits. This is a growing area as we receive more referrals from other patients and doctors. We have grown the dry eye area of our practice by about 10 percent per year. Our bustling dry eye niche makes selling products to treat this condition a revenue-generator. We are selling about $1,500 per month of product, which translates into $18,000 to the annual revenues of the practice.
Nutraceuticals for sale in Dr. Geffen’s office. Dr. Geffen says it is best to sell yourself the products you prescribe so patients don’t have to worry about searching in retail stores or online for the products.
Decide What to Sell
We sell Bruder masks for hot compresses, non-preserved tears, lid scub medications and neutraceuticals.
We obtain this inventory from multiple vendors. We try different products with patients and stock those which patients find most effective. Typically, we try to have a stock of three dozen of each product. The stock only ties up around $300 at any time.
I try to sell in our office any product we recommend, otherwise compliance will be an issue. Then we look at whether the product will supply enough profit to the practice to warrant the needed staff time and display space. We estimate the amount of sales and determine if it will net at least $3,000 to the practice. We also estimate the staff time involved and if is too much hassle, we won’t use that product.
We are looking into selling other tear products, as well as other mechanical treatments.
Generally, we price by looking at the going rate in local stores and online for these products and their availability. Some are only obtained from online purchases. We typically price our product 20 percent lower than local stores so patients can see we are trying to add a service for them, and not just push them into something for profit.
For example, we have found on product like non-preserved tears, that CVS is pricing their products at about two times our price, so if we price 20 percent less, we are still making a nice profit, which makes it worthwhile to carry while providing added convenience to our patients. These items are not covered by insurance, but can be purchased with flex-spending dollars. We let patients know about the advantage of purchasing from us by pointing out to them what it costs at the local drug store and supermarkets compared to our price.
Create Display in Office
We keep some of the products we sell, such as the lid scrub and Bruder mask, in the exam room, so I can demonstrate how to use them, and some are on display in the reception area. In addition, most vendors provide brochures and point-of-purchase displays. We utilize the brochures.
Supplemental tears for dry eye patients, sold in Dr. Geffen’s office. Dr. Geffen finds his dry eye practice is strengthened by selling the products he prescribes right in his office.
Educate Patients On Product Benefits
In my examination I educate the patient about their problem, and usually they are having symptoms, so they can easily relate to what I am saying. I go through the products we recommend and tell them why we have chosen that particular brand. We then tell them that we carry these as a service to make it easier for them to start their treatment right away. We also make the point of telling them that we price these products less than the stores. Three out of four patients will get the products from us.
Have Staff Reinforce Your Message
Staff is critical to carrying through sales of dry eye products. I recommend the products in the exam room and signal for a tech to come into the room. I go over my recommendations in front of the tech and then leave the room. The tech will then take the patient into another area of the office to further review my recommendations and demo the products. Most of the companies we purchase from are too small to have sales teams visit our office, so I meet with them at meetings and bring back information to go over with staff at our weekly meeting.