By Rachael Click, OD
Second-pair eyewear sales increase if you start the conversation with the appointment call and continue it all the way to check-out time. The deal clincher: hard-to-resist discounts.
Educating patients about why they should invest in a second pair of eyewear, and then creating second-pair discounts, are keys to how my office drives optical shop revenues. This ensures patients have all the eyewear they need. Here is how we execute this strategy.
Rachael Click, OD
Preferred EyeCare Center
Mount Pleasant, SC
Indiana University School of Optometry
Class of 2007
Approximate Annual Comprehensive Examinations
Average Revenue Per Patient
Approximate Annual Revenues
Primary eyecare with dry eye emphasis
Start Conversation Pre-Exam Room
Sometimes the second-pair conversation begins when the patient is making their appointment. We have our second-pair incentive information listed on our web site, so when a new patient calls to make their appointment, and ask about the discount, we are ready to educate them about their second-pair options. Another time that the second pair conversation might begin earlier than the exam room is when insurance details are being discussed before patients see the doctor. Some insurance companies will give a 20- to 30-percent discount for second pair sales, but we give a 50 percent discount, which is a great way to start the conversation and educate patients about how we value and understand the need for multiple pairs.
Reinforce Second-Pair Message in Exam Room
My practice, Preferred EyeCare Center in Mount Pleasant, SC, heavily practices doctor-driven recommendations. We have a vision treatment plan that I try to fill out for every patient. This allows the doctor to rank their recommendations in order of importance based on the patient’s needs and lifestyle. It is very rare that there are less than three recommendations. The staff then continues this conversation into the dispensary for the frame selection. Since there are multiple recommendations given, the second pair is an easier topic to discuss.
Make the Second-Pair Case
Any patient can be sold a second pair, but a common scenario for us is the presbyopic patient. Here is what I might say to that patient about the need for additional eyewear: “Mrs. Jones, I have your everyday glasses prescription finalized for you. This pair is going to be ideal for everyday tasks such as driving, grocery shopping, going out to dinner, cooking and watching TV. I also have your reading prescription finalized for you. I recommend this prescription because you mentioned eye fatigue when reading and working on the computer for long periods of time. Even though they are both bifocal-style lenses, this reading prescription is going to reduce eyestrain because the computer and reading portion of the lens is bigger. However, as you can see from my diagram, the distance portion of this lens is reduced. So, this is going to be a pair of glasses that you wear when you are working.”
Lastly, I recommend to all of my patients a good pair of polarized sunglasses because it acts as “sunscreen for your eyes.” If a patient only has one pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses, and they are new to our office, I utilize the answers to their lifestyle questions to recommend the second pair. If they already have sunglasses, I ask them if they are polarized or prescription. If not, that is an excellent opportunity to discuss the reasons to recommend one or both of those parameters. If the patient is established, then I will refer to last year’s treatment plan to make updated recommendations. I also look to see if they have Transitions in their eyeglasses as that is another easy recommendation. Regardless of whether a patient is new or established, if they have a high prescription I always recommend a second pair as a back-up due to their disabling vision. Lastly, I always update patients on any changes in lens technology or style since their last purchase. Then I try to relate how those changes would positively improve their vision and life.
Create Too-Hard-to-Resist Discounts
Preferred EyeCare Center has always offered 50 percent off on second pairs when purchased the same day as the first pair. We have never had a time where we didn’t offer it, so I don’t know what impact offering 50 percent off has had on the bottom line compared to not offering it. However, I can say that the team’s dedication to giving good patient care and solid recommendations has allowed us to consistently average over $400 revenue per patient.
There was a time that we extended the 50 percent off to match the timeline of our optical lab. Labs will normally extend the 50 percent off to us for 30 days from the original invoice date. We only did this for a very short time because we found that by extending the timeline offer to 30 days it greatly reduced the call to action. Financially, offering 50 percent off has not lost the practice any money. The optical labs will invoice the business 50 percent off too. So, the only possible money lost would be on the frame. However, with the large discounts that managed care makes us take on the initial frame billed through insurance, sometimes there is a bigger profit margin on the second pair.
We also offer patients 20 percent off their second pair of eyeglasses that are not purchased on the same day. For us, this has been a good strategy for increasing same-day sales. We don’t have a lot of people who come back a few weeks later to buy the second pair, but we do have a lot of people who take advantage of the same-day 50 percent off offer. Sometimes it goes to the extreme, meaning if a patient has payday next week and they want multiple pairs, they will indeed come back for both pairs. That is interesting to me because we have found that if they only have the intention of buying one pair and leave without purchasing, the likelihood of them returning is much less than it is when they want multiple pairs.
Market for Second-Pair Sales
Our marketing for second pair sells is multi-layered. First it is listed on our web site and in our printed office brochure. We also utilize Constant Contact to send e-blasts to our patients for any updates or new product launches. In addition, we e-blast our patients with our regular office policies to remind them of the discounts associated with second-pair sales. There is also internal signage in the dispensary. But I have found the biggest source of marketing is word of mouth. All staff members know when and how to bring up multiple pair sales throughout the production cycle. For instance, the front-desk coordinator talks about it when going over insurance details. The opticians and doctor assistants talk about it in relation to the doctor-driven recommendations.
Train to Drive Second Pairs
Training is performed during our weekly business meetings so the overhead operating costs remain the same. Training consists of sales strategies on how to present second pairs to each patient. Our Essilor rep participates in our business meetings approximately once a quarter. So we were easily able to incorporate strategies and ordering details into that allotted time. The right strategy and discounts combined with a staff ready to implement your second-pair action plan makes all the difference.
Keys to Second-Pair Sales
Recommendations based on the patient’s needs. That means asking lifestyle-oriented questions about their profession and hobbies. The doctor then should make her recommendation in the exam room and reinforce that recommendation when she hands off the patient to the optician.
Recommend based on the patient’s wants. Sometimes people really want something but need justification or acknowledgment for their purchase. For example, you or your optical staff might note a patient admiring another frame while placing their primary eyeglasses order. At that point, a well trained optician would jump in and say: “Those frames would be great for a pair of computer glasses, and I see here in your chart that the doctor thought a pair of computer glasses would help relieve the eye strain you’ve been experiencing.”
Discount. Offer 50 percent off of the second pair when it is purchased the same day as the first pair. The more time that passes after a patient’s visit the more unlikely it is that they will take advantage of the discount. The same-day aspect of the offer encourages them to follow their impulse and get the second pair before it’s too late.