By Stuart J. Thomas, OD, and Ellen Byrum-Goad, LDO
Increasing sales of annual supplies of contact lenses is a key to practice profitability. Here are implementation steps to send contact lens patients home with a year’s supply of contact lenses—and bring them back on time for their annual visit.
How do you feel about online contact lens suppliers and other corporate sellers of contact lenses? How much care do you think they can give your contact lens patients? We watched these behemoths sell to patients without providing them with care while taking profits from OD pockets for nearly 30 years. But these mass sellers are blips on our radar now that we have figured out how to presentannualsupply sales of contact lenses–and leverage thepremiumvalue of the contactlens patient to our practice. Here are the key steps that got us here, including examples of patient marketing materials and a spreadsheet page that shows how our optical team tracks annual contact lens sales.
What OD’s Need to Do:
Understand profitabilityof CL patient.When a patient purchases an annual supply of contact lenses, they have a better tendency to stay on the prescribed wearing schedule. Therefore, they will return for their annual eye exam at a shorterinterval than if they purchase contacts on a three- to six- month schedule. Therefore, better patient care is maintained.
Prescribe annual supply with patient.Once it has been determined that the new or current contact lens parameters are optimal for the patient’s acuity and comfort, have the doctor prescribe an annual supply of contact lenses in front of the patient.
Analyze the cost of doing business. In other words,what does it cost your office to process one or two boxes of contacts? Multiply that number by four or more to calculate the cost to your business to provide those contact lenses to your patient. That alone should motivate your practice to sell more annual supplies.
What Staff Needs to Do:
Go over your contact lens pricing. Make sure it is where it needs to be. If needed, have staff do some secret shopping to determine if you are in line with your competitors–meaning have your optical staff call competing practices pretending to be patients shopping around for contact lenses.
Key it in.Typeset your contact lens list alphabetically for efficiency, or better yet, enter it into your EHR system. Electronic records are capable of tracking how many annual sales you make per week, month, year or any other time interval. It also can segment out which brands you were most successful at selling annual supplies of and even which annual supply promotions worked best.
Show pricing.Print one-page pricing on annual supply for your major vendors. This sheet can serve as an educational piece for both your staff and patients.
Show savings.You may want to add a 10 percent savings when a person makes an annual supply purchase. Show on the educational sheet the price-per-box once you take away your 10 percent savings and the rebate information. Here are two examples we use in our office. You do not have to do this yourself. Your sales rep for each contact lens vendor should be happy to do these promotional pieces for you, as selling more annual supplies benefits them, too.
Step 5: The number of Annual Contact lens supplies is tracked and recorded by my contact lens technician on a daily basis. We review this statistic monthly. Consider the following simple Excel spreadsheet format. Click HERE to download an easier-to-read version of this spreadsheet, which you can also use to create your own.
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Stuart J. Thomas, OD, is the owner of Thomas Eye Center in Athens, Ga. Ellen B. Goad, LDO, is practice manager for the practice. To contact: Ellen.Goad@thomaseyecenter.com