Insights From Our Editors

Market Opportunity: Invest in Optical Inventory that Best Serves Your Patients

May 25, 2016

Investing in luxury brand-name frames in your optical does not suit the needs of every patient, according to The Vision Council 2015 Fashion Versus Function Study. Thirteen percent of consumers polled in the study say that they would certainly pay extra to receive top-brand frames, while 38 percent said they would possibly pay more. But the remaining 49 percent say they are not willing to pay extramoney to obtain a top-name brand or designer name pair of eyeglass frames. Two groups in particular, consumers over the age of 45 andthose from lower income households, have minimal interest in paying more for top name frames.

Ask: Can I find what I need here?
Is the glass half empty or half full? The Vision Council 2015 Fashion vs. Function Survey results are summarized here:

Are patients willing to pay extra to obtain a top-name brand or designer name pair of eyeglass frames?

About 50%

Not willing to pay extra

37.8 %

Would possibly pay more

Almost 13%

Would certainly pay extra to receive top-brand frames

Source: The Vision Council, May 2015

The data from that survey takes us to a dilemma. About half are not willing to pay extra to obtain a top-name brand or designer name pair of eyeglass frames and about 50 percent are willing to pay more. What about your patients? What do they want? To know what your patients want, you have to ask.

One way to answer the question of what your patients are willing to purchase is to look at previous sales. Look back at last year’s frame sales. Mine your data to fill in the following chart with the number of frames sold last year at each price point.

Men’s

Women’s

Unisex

$50-$99

$100-$149

$150-$199

$200-$249

$250-$299

$300-$349

$350-$399

$400-$449

$450-$499

$500-$549

$550-$599

$600-$649

$650-$699

>$700

Now that you know what your patients are buying at each price point, the next question is what did your patients want from you but were unable to find, so they took their prescription somewhere else.

The question that should be asked of every patient who does not fill their prescription in your practice: “Since we want to be the best practice we can be, may I please ask why you are going somewhere else to buy your glasses?” Ask of this of every patient who walks with their prescription over the next month.

Train your staff to write down the patients’ answers to that question verbatim. Patients’ perceptions are reality … to them. No matter our perceptions, if patients have a different perception, we need to know the exact patient perceptions so we can decide if we want to change their perception. The only way that we can know how patients perceive our practice is to ask them.

If staff does not convey the patients’ exact words, then staff is interpreting the patients’ perceptions. It is not as helpful to hear patients’ perceptions of our practice filtered through our staff’s biases and beliefs. We need to hear exactly how patients perceive us.

Capture rate is defined as prescriptions that are filled in our practice. A positive capture is a prescription that is filled in our practice. A negative capture is a prescription that is either left unfilled or is taken somewhere else to be filled. The national average for capture rate is about 60 percent. That means 4 out of 10 prescriptions walk. We must stop this hemorrhaging. It’s not enough to just measure capture rate, we must improve our capture rate.

Patients’ perceptions of our optical significantly impacts capture rate. Stand in the reception area and look at your optical. The question in patients’ minds: “Can I find what I need here?” When you look into your optical, do you see enough product that you believe that you can find what you need? Do you see enough brand names that you recognize to believe that you can find what you need?

It takes a patient less than 3 seconds to make the determination that they are either going to buy from you or take their prescription elsewhere. If patients are leaving your practice with their prescriptions because they cannot find luxury frames in your optical, it’s time to remix your frame board. If patients are leaving your practice with their prescriptions because you have emphasized luxury frames and they perceive you as too expensive, then it’s time to change the internal marketing to highlight the message that we have frames for all price points.

Whatever the case, make sure that you can stand in your reception are looking into your optical and answer the same question patients are asking every day: “Can I find what I need here?”

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