By Shelley Smith, ABOC, CPOA
Feb. 8, 2023
Your opticians are key members on your staff in the quest to provide superior care and build higher profitability. The right incentive plans can make all the difference between an optical staff that does just enough to get by and a team that goes the extra mile for patients, elevating care while increasing revenues.
Here is the optician incentive plan that substantially increased our AR and multi-pair sales, among other metrics.
Create Multi-Goal Incentive Plan
Our current incentive program encompasses multiple goals that must be met to receive a bonus. Each optician, or “eyewear consultant,” as we call these team members in our practice, has a sales dollar amount they must reach, and they must reach two out of three optical goals.
The optical goals change periodically. Recent examples include 90 percent no-glare (AR) sales, 35 percent Transitions sales, 10 percent multiple-pair sales and 8 percent polarized sales. We change the optical goals every few months so we don’t stagnate in any area of patient service and sales. If the eyewear consultant reaches at least two of their three goals, they receive a payout that is based on their dollar amount goal.
What What Works for Us & What Didn’t
Our current incentive program works well because the eyewear consultants are competing against their own previous numbers. They know exactly what the goals are that they are required to meet, and they have an easy way to track their progress through the month.
Prior to the program we are currently using, we did not have an incentive program in place for about a year. Since we launched this program, we have seen a steady improvement in many metrics. Over the last six months, we have seen a 20+ percent improvement in no-glare (AR) in multiple locations and a minimum 5 percent increase in multiple-pair sales in all six of our locations. As we continue this program, we expect to continue to see improvement in all the optical key performance indicators we measure.
Some of the previous programs we tried were so complicated it was nearly impossible for the eyewear consultants to track their progress through the month. This led to them not trying because they could never tell if they were close to their goal.
We tried different programs in the past. At one point, we paid a specific dollar amount for each no-glare, Transitions, multi-pair sale and hi-index sale. This program failed because it did not require eyewear consultants to grow their sales to receive a payout. We also tried team incentives in the past, but always met with at least one disgruntled employee who felt like they pulled the weight of everyone.
When we didn’t have a full incentive program in place, we played mini-games to focus on certain goals and gave gift cards to the winners each month. This was fun and created a healthy amount of competition between eyewear consultants. However, the potential payout when all goals are met and/or exceeded in our current incentive plan is even more motivating to employees.
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The Right Incentive Plan Encourages Greater Teamwork Across Practice
Since we started this incentive program it has been great to see our eyewear consultants naturally start to work with Patient Coordinators and Doctors Assistants to get patients thinking about eyewear from the time they schedule their appointment. Any given day you’ll hear an eyewear consultant talking to one of the other departments about how they can help them out when the patient reaches them in their journey.
The Right Incentive Plan Can Also Boost Employee Retention
Our incentive plan has helped retain our eyewear consultants during the Great Resignation. If an eyewear consultant has a great month, it is possible for them to greatly supplement their normal pay, usually to a point that would be difficult to attain in other career paths. It is something they get excited about each month when they make it, and when they don’t make it, they want to have conversations with me about how they can improve.
We have only hired one new eyewear consultant since we began this program, so I do not have expansive data on whether this was helpful in recruiting. However, the one person we hired during this time said our incentive plan was a large draw to this position. We advertised our incentive plan in the job posting, and some candidates asked about it.
Practice Director or Practice Owner Should Meet on a Set Schedule with Opticians
I meet with each eyewear consultant the first week of each month to go over their performance from the prior month, celebrate wins and go over shortfalls. If we have employees who have not performed well enough to receive the incentive, I start by asking them why they feel they were not successful in that month. If they tell me they feel like they just weren’t busy, we look at the overall numbers for the month, so we can try to pinpoint situations in which we could have improved our sales.
Provide Training to Help Opticians Reach Their Incentive Goals
The other practice that works incredibly well is doing simulations. I have the employee pretend to be the patient, and I try to sell them a pair of glasses based on a certain situation, then we’ll flip, and I’ll pretend to be the patient. This practice is a great way to ensure that the eyewear consultant is hitting all the major points of the sale and presenting the information to the patient in a way that meets a need they have.