Help that provides the key to increasing optical sales.
By Margery Weinstein
Review of Optometric Business
August 16, 2023
Retaining patients, adding new ones and building optical sales through effective marketing are steep challenges. However, with the right outside help, it’s amazing what can be done. For Amanda Weiss, OD, that game-changing help came from ADO Practice Solutions and its DONE4YOU® Marketing services.
A Comprehensive Practice Solution
Dr. Weiss’s practice, SeaView Eyecare in Wellington, Fla., became an ADO Practice Solutions member in December of 2020. At the time, Dr. Weiss and her team were seeking help with social media posts and wanted membership to a buying group that would provide savings to the practice, in time and in cost of goods.
“But what we got was an identity for our brand, cost and time savings in operations, and the ability to track our progress down to the last dollar with detailed metrics,” she says of the decision to join ADO. “Being an ADO Practice Solutions member means having access to experts in the field of optical and eyecare that can help grow the practice, far beyond what we might have accomplished on our own.”
Significantly Boosting Optical Capture
One of the metrics Dr. Weiss and her team aimed to improve was optical capture rate, which they felt had significant growth potential. “We knew the exceptional care we provided had earned the loyalty of our patients over the last 10 years, but the rising cost of optical goods and the growth of online optical retailers had resulted in a higher number of patients opting to fill their eyeglass and contact-lens prescriptions outside of our optical,” she said.
The practice’s capture rate became especially important when the team made the decision to end their contract with a large vision plan in 2022. “Our hope was to keep 50 percent of those patients in the practice, and to encourage them to utilize other medical insurance plan benefits or self-pay options for care,” says Dr. Weiss. “We also hoped to encourage them to fill their prescriptions in our optical. As we planned for the departure from the vision plan, our DONE4YOU Marketing manager helped us draft communications to patients, informing them of our decision and our desire to keep them as patients in our office. More important, however, was her suggestion to create Eyecare Recommendation Cards, specifically designed to travel with the patient from the exam chair to the optical, and to convey all of the doctor’s recommendations for care and eyewear”
The Eyecare Recommendation Cards transformed “the hand-off” in the practice, says Dr. Weiss: “They are reviewed not once, but twice with the patient. They are a summary of care provided to the patient, offering solutions to their eyecare problems, provided by experts within the walls of our practice…Practice Management Gold!”
For the first half of 2023, the practice’s average revenue per exam increased 16 percent compared with the same period in 2022. Dr. Weiss says the practice can partially attribute this increase to an increase in exam and optical costs and fees, of course, but in larger part it’s due to collecting greater payments from self-pay patients and from plans with higher reimbursements than they did in 2022 when they participated with vision plans with lower reimbursements.
“Our percentage of new patients in the practice in 2023 is 36 percent, and many of these patients found their way into our practice by way of the marketing efforts of DONE4YOU Marketing (and not solely by way of vision plan enrollment),” Dr. Weiss explains.
Spurring Optical Sales to Soar
The practice’s first full year as an ADO Practice Solutions member was 2021. Prior to this year, they had offered a modest discount on second-pair sales for patients purchasing two complete pairs of glasses. But rarely had they offered advertised promotions that highlighted new technology in eyewear and offered savings to patients.
“Emma, our DONE4YOU Marketing Manager, encouraged us to dip our toes in the waters of scheduled, regular promotions that engaged patients with in-office graphics, online marketing and custom changes to our website,” says Dr. Weiss.
The promotions were designed to draw patients to the practice’s site, and, ultimately, to their office to take advantage of these promotions, before they expired quarterly. The promotions were also designed to generate more profit by increasing the average optical revenue per patient. There was cost involved in running these campaigns and there were deadlines scheduled to deliver materials in time for scheduled promotions.
“We questioned if the ROI was there, and at the end of the year, that question was answered,” says Dr. Weiss. “Our optical sales increased by 40 percent in 2021 over the year prior. The increase in optical sales combined with the new savings with frame manufacturers had a substantial impact on our profitability in 2021.”
A Dedicated Marketing Manager–Especially for Your Practice
When Dr. Weiss and her team first thought about enlisting help from ADO and DONE4YOU, their ambitions were small. “In considering DONE4YOU, we were simply looking for someone to write and post social media content, and we thought that would be enough to grow the practice. After working with another company for eight years for SEO, we had already suffered the frustrations of editing the work of unknown content writers with no eyecare-specific experience. We had no way of connecting with those contracted to write our posts and blogs and so we repeatedly edited the same mistakes over and over,” she says. “Optometrists were referred to as opticians in every post, for years, because this was the case in the country to which the work was being outsourced. The No. 1 selling point for DONE4YOU Marketing was that we would have a dedicated marketing manager assigned to our practice, AND that marketing manager’s experience and training in marketing was eyecare-specific. And that is the key to good marketing: knowing your industry and knowing your audience.”
A large part of the work that DONE4YOU has done for the practice has been in branding. The practice has always operated under its name, but that name was only visible to patients when they entered the office. And in many cases, inside the practice, it was simply a name written in Times New Roman on a document.
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“Since working with DONE4YOU, everything inside our office and everything that leaves our office has our updated branding on it. Business cards, eyeglass cleaning cloths, referral tear-off pads for outside providers, e-mails confirming appointments, faxes to primary care physicians, t-shirts worn by staff on Saturdays, screen savers in our exam rooms, communications through Solutionreach and even our own brand of eyewear have all been created to build a reputable, recognizable brand within our community,” says Dr. Weiss. “And DONE4YOU has not only completed these projects, but in many cases our marketing manager introduced and educated us on the value of all these little things that make up a brand.”
With Help from ADO, a Fitting 10th Anniversary Celebration
The practice’s growth trajectory keeps pointing up and up.
“This year we celebrated our 10th year in practice with a trunk show and anniversary celebration complete with refreshments, balloons and of course marketing assets created by DONE4YOU for the event. The cost of marketing materials was minimal for the event, but the planning was exceptional. And on the day of our event, we celebrated with a 421 percent increase in optical sales!” says Dr. Weiss. “This event was a lesson in how consistent messaging and timely advertising, and not expensive published ads, nor an exorbitant marketing budget, were needed to realize a great profit.”
ADO and DONE4YOU has been a springboard to long-term practice growth and high profitability, emphasizes Dr. Weiss: “Great marketing reaches uninsured patients or those with insurance plans we don’t accept, and compels them to seek care in our practice because the value and quality of what we offer is superior to all others. Great marketing with great gains in profitability is what we have achieved with ADO Practice Solutions and DONE4YOU Marketing!”