By Eric Rettig, OD
Sept. 7, 2022
The number of patients you write a prescription for, who choose to purchase a frame in your optical, is an important indicator of patient satisfaction and profitability.
Our current frame capture rate is 73.1 percent. In 2019 it was 61.10 percent, in 2020, 62.50 percent, and in 2021, it was 61.5 percent. In total, it has increased nearly 20 percent from three years ago. Here is how we did it.
Prescribing from the Chair
We dedicate a large portion of physical space in our office to displaying and promoting frames, and they are a primary source of revenue for our practice. If we are only selling lenses, we are missing out on a large potential revenue stream.
We used to believe that as long as the patient was getting “something” (in this case new lenses), it was still a win for the office and the patient. Even when patients had a frame benefit through their vision plan, we often struggled to take full advantage of that opportunity to sell them a new frame with their new lenses.
This year we made capture rate a big focus in our office because it had been stagnant for the previous few years. We brought in Mark Hinton with eYeFacilitate to educate our staff and doctors on the importance of prescribing from the chair. He gave us extremely helpful methods to increase multiple metrics in our office, including multiple-pair sales, sunglasses, photochromatics, office lenses AND frame capture rate. His methods have been invaluable to our office, and have helped to increase our overall optical sales.
Mark trained us to educate patients in the exam room and prescribe what is best for them before we even reach the optical. For example: educating on the importance of protection from sun damage (Transitions Lenses and polarized Rx sunglasses) or the value of office glasses for eight-hour days on the computer. This all helped to increase second-pair sales.
He emphasized to us the importance of using the word “prescribe” when making recommendations to patients. Our opticians use that word when discussing every aspect of the patient’s glasses, reiterating that the doctor prescribed this type of lens and the features included in it.
Editor’s Note: There are many staff training resources to choose from. Click HERE to learn about a few of these other options.
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Lenses are also sold as a package instead of itemizing every option. This decreases confusion and overall time spent with the optician. It’s widely known that the longer a patient spends in the optical the less they want to spend or the more likely they would just want to leave the office with their prescription instead of purchasing eyewear from their doctor.
Educating on Why a New Frame is a Good & Safe Investment
We educate patients that a new frame comes with a warranty. We also let them know that using an old frame, which may have been discontinued, may make it more difficult to repair or find replacement parts should the need arise. We started having patients sign a waiver that clearly spells out these risks, so they are completely aware of what may happen if they use their old frame.
Another thing that helped to increase capture rate is the “free lens coupon” we offer to all of our patients who purchase an annual supply of contact lenses. This coupon gives them a free pair of single-vision polycarbonate lenses with anti-reflective treatment with the purchase of any frame at full price. We found that many of those patients weren’t purchasing new glasses during their visits previously. The coupon enables them to use their vision plan toward an annual supply of contact lenses and get a new pair of glasses too. The profit we generate through this special deal is often better than it would have been if the patient had used their vision plan for a complete pair of glasses.
We also offer 25 percent off plano sunglasses to any patient who had refractive surgery or purchases an annual supply of contact lenses. Alongside our frame capture rate, we found that prescribing sunwear from the chair, including educating patients on the importance of protecting their eyes from ultra-violet radiation, has proven a success. Both our prescription and plano sunwear sales increased this year.
Use Social Media to Let Patients Know About New Frame Lines
We use social media to promote new frame lines and promotional offers, such as our free lens coupon and discount for refractive surgery patients and other special deals.
Trunk shows have proven to be only break-even events in our practice. It drives people to the practice to view new inventory, but we found we have to increase staffing those days, which increases our costs. In addition, there are other needs for the event, like refreshments, that increase costs. When tallying up trunk show days, we usually find that our sales increased, but we spent more money to get them. Letting people know about new frames on social media, and having an open door to welcome walk-ins to browse and purchase eyewear, works better for us.