By Chad Waggoner, OD,
and Kimberly Manthe, ABO
A promotional event that offers a discount on lenses and/or frames can boost profitability–if you roll it out strategically. Here is how one practice manages to do this.
CREATE A FOCUS. For example, the focus of a December sale could be on patients using their flex-spending dollars to purchase their eyewear.
SET CAMPAIGNGOALS. A December sale promotion could strive to clear out inventory at year end and to promote particular lenses, like Transitions lenses.
GET WORD OUT. Use Transitions Online Marketing (TOM) Tool to create practice- and event-specific postcards and counter cards.
Promotional campaigns offering a discount on eyewear can encourage patients to splurge for a second pair of glasses, and can sometimes even push people to come in for an appointment. The key is creating a promotion that generates excitement for making a purchase without cutting into the practice’s profitability. Here is how we did this during our December 2013 semi-annual promotional event.
Clarus does a semi-annual sale event for several reasons. If we have sales too often it decreases the excitement of these events for our patients. It is easier to get vendors each day of the event if it is on their schedule in January for the calendar year, so we schedule these events at around the same time every year. People may save money knowing these sales are coming, but use their insurance benefits on the first pair and pay cash for the second pair, which grows our multiple-pair sales. Our December 1-25 sale focuses on capturing flex-spending purchases and promoting sales before Christmas. Our other semi-annual sale takes place in May, the week before Mother’s Day, and focuses on selling eyewear related to outdoor activities such as sunwear.
Decide on Focus of Promotion
In addition to encouraging patients to use their flex-spending dollars to purchase eyewear in December, we run our “Perfect Gift” semi-annual sale, which offers patients 25 percent off frames and lenses with Transitions for 25 days (Dec. 1-25). This sale cannot be combined with any other offers or insurance billing. We contact the lab, which extends 25 percent off to us on the Transitions lenses for that time period. We schedule frame vendors for two weeks straight, so patients feel their choices are endless. It is a win/win for the patient, who ends up wearing lenses with 100 percent UV protection and the latest technology in lenses; the frame vendors; the lab; and our practice due to the fact that the more work we order the more profitable all organizations are during our sale.
Clarus Optical has on average 900 frames in inventory. We have seven vendors with ten total reps. We ask a lot of our vendors to attend our sales events, and some of them come for more than one date during our December sale to help us create the best experience for the patient. They cover typically 10-14 days of our sale. On the days we do not have a frame vendor we focus on a specific line by featuring it separately on a sale table.
Decide on Goals
People tend to procrastinate in using their flex dollars. We remind them through social media, radio and an online media campaign that glasses are an excellent way to spend those dollars. If they don’t use it, they lose it.
We set sales goals for the practice, and we also set vendor goals with the lab, and our frame vendors, whom we have on schedule for the frame show portion of our event. Our sales goal for this last December’s frame and Transitions lens event was to generate $150,000 in optical revenues.The sales goal for the optical of $150,000 is a combination of event and normal sales from December 1-25. This would be a 50 percent increase over normal sales for that time period.
Other goals set for the December sale was to sell 250 frames we currently had in stock, as well as to introduce a new line of frames to our patients. We also used this opportunity to educate patients more about the Transitions family of products and how these lenses can meet their lifestyle needs.
Managing Staff During Promotional Campaigns: Three Keys
1) No one takes vacation during the event.
2) Staff wears technology being highlighted.
3) Staff is aware of goals and actively works to achieve them.
Ensure Opticians Are Up to the Promotion
Our opticians are seasoned veterans and know that we are incredibly busy during our December frame and Transitions lens event. No one takes vacation during that time knowing we need all hands on deck. The staff keeps current on all the latest technology and wears it so that they may present it to the patients genuinely based on the patient’s lifestyle needs. The staff is aware of the goals and works together as a team to achieve them. A quarterly bonus structure is in place if our sales threshold is met.
Decide on Methods to Get Word Out About Promotion
We created the postcards and counter cards shown in this article using the TOM tool, especially for our practice and for this specific event. Other marketing methods used for this campaign were social media, radio and an online media campaign with the local newspaper. With the help of Transitions TOM tool we only spent $2,807.40 on our advertising for our December event.
We used our Transitions points through the TOM Tool to pay for postcards and postage. Some $750 went toward a local radio station campaign of our December event and $2,057 went to local newspaper print ads and the online ad campaign.
Assess Results of Promotion
The revenue gained during the “Perfect Gift” Transitions lens and frame sale was $189,606.92. We sold 255 frames during this event. Premium products breakdown was 82 percent AR, 70 percent digital lenses and 37 percent Transitions family of products. We focus on selling glasses, as they are a great way to spend flex dollars and the sale cannot be combined with any other discounts or insurance billing.
We had hoped that more plano sunglasses would have sold as gifts. We found instead that the majority of people who came in for the event came in for themselves or brought their family members in with them. Sunglasses in December are a bit of a hard sale in Washington State, where our practice is based.
Decide What You Will Do Differently Next Time
We would educate patients on newer technology like the Transitions Signature VII lens and shoot for higher percentages in the Transitions family of products. With all other aspects, we would stay pretty consistent with our approach.
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Chad Waggoner, OD, is a partner at Clarus Eye Centre, the 2013 Transitions Practice of the Year, in Lacy, Wash.
Kimberly Manthe, ABO, is the practice administrator. To contact: KimM@claruseye.com