By April L. Jasper, OD, FAAO
Featuring a warranty on eyeglasses can give your patients the confidence to make that next purchase–or second-pair purchase.
Patients often are hesitant to make a purchase. This is true even when they know the purchase, such as a second pair of eyewear or even a first pair of updated eyeglasses, would benefit them greatly. In my practice, we provide an eyeglasses warranty that allows for a one-year no-penalty return of frames due to manufacturer’s defect (if the frames fall apart or break due to no fault of the wearer). This gives patients a sense of security that their investment is protected. Here are the key points of our warranty policy including how we crafted it.
Low Cost/High Gain in Patient Satisfaction with Practice
Our warranty costs us very little in hard costs (much less than $3,000 a year), just money in time spent. Time will be spent processing the return and then sending it back to the manufacturer and reordering the eyeglasses, but we have found that time to be negligible.
Our patients have real trust that we will always take care of them and we do go above and beyond and will even go past our own warranty policies many times when we feel it is the right thing to do. The reason for a policy at all is because it is neat and clean to have things in writing and also helps to create a comfort level in the minds of our new patients that we will always take care of them when they purchase from us.
Find the Right Warranty for Your Practice
We started out with a two-year warranty nine years ago. We changed it to a one-year warranty two years ago as we started to invest in more high-end frame lines. The reason for this is that many higher-end frame lines have only a one-year warranty, and we needed to make our warranties the same to protect ourselves financially. We also found that the people using the two-year warranty were patients who had vision plans that would allow a one-year exam and lens benefit, however only every two years for frames. These were the patients who would come in and expect a new frame (using warranty). The idea behind two years is very contentious among independent practitioners. Many believe it helps to increase sales, and my experience with it was not that. I did not see that it made a difference compared to a one-year warranty in purchase patterns in our office so it made sense for us to change it.
Communicate Policy to Patients
We first print our warranty on every receipt (it is pre-printed on our paper that goes into the printer for receipts to be printed on from our practice management software), next we discuss the warranty as patients select their frames and lenses. We then hand out a brochure when they pick up their purchase that outlines how to care for their eyeglasses and also explains again briefly the warranty policies.
Create a Service-Oriented Business
Our patients understand that we are not the cheapest nor do we ever intend to be. We know we cannot be everything to everyone so what we choose to be to our patients is a place where they can get the best care and service in the most efficient manner possible. Our patients want us to be their problem solver and a warranty is one more way to be that service-oriented business that takes care of patients first and asks questions later.
No Complaints So Far from Patients
We regularly conduct patient satisfaction surveys and we have not received any specific comments related to our warranty, and I am not surprised by that. A warranty policy that is in the best interest of the patient is going to be something that creates a positive spirit in your patients and will most likely not generate comment unless it is non-existent. So to rephrase, a patient friendly warranty is one of the many ways we create patient loyalty.
Craft a Warranty Policy:
Review your practice management software to see how much money warranties cost you.
Evaluate the benefit of increased sales because of the decreased element of risk in the mind of the buyer and determine how important a warranty is to you.
Print your warranty policy on something that you regularly hand out to patients (most of us are used to looking for return policy information on our receipts).
Re-evaluate your policy every six months to see if it is working or needs adjusting. For example, if many of your patients are vision plan patients and you have a two-year policy and see it being abused, you may need to re-think it and change it to one year.
Don’t be afraid to make exceptions to the rule. It can be a great customer service opportunity to “fix it” even when the patient is past the warranty period.
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