By Marcia M. Moore, OD, FCOVD, Diplomate, ABO
Feb. 16, 2022
Patients make a fast judgement when they enter your optical about whether to shop and make a purchase. After our office, including our optical, underwent a renovation last year, we found that patients were more inclined to buy their eyewear from us.
The renovation resulted in a 31 percent increase in overall optical revenue. Here are the changes that made such a difference to our patients’ experience and our profitability.
The Perfect Time to Create a New Optical
We did a full expansion and remodeling of our office that was completed about a year ago. The orthodontist next door to us was moving out, which presented a prime opportunity to create a bigger office that would include a larger optical. Our office went from 3,000 sq. ft. to 4,900 sq. feet. Our optical is now 40 percent larger than it was before. The optical fills most of the space formerly comprised by the orthodontist’s office.
Patients were able to continue shopping in the old optical while the new one was being created. We only had two days when we had to shut down our office during the whole renovation process.
The Optical is Now Visible As Soon As Patients Walk In
Before the renovation, patients had to walk down a short hallway from our office’s entrance to get to the optical. They would pass by the optical on their way back and forth from exam rooms. Some of our products were even on display in the hallway because there wasn’t space in the optical for everything.
Some patients told us before the renovation that they didn’t know we sold glasses!
The new optical includes the front desk with an adjacent reception area. This makes it easy for patients to shop for eyewear while waiting for their appointment to begin. It isn’t unusual now for patients to come early specifically because they want time to browse the optical before they see the doctor.
“I hope you changed my prescription because I want to go out there and get a new pair of glasses,” one patient told me.
The Optical Is Better Equipped for Families with Children
One of the subsets of our practice is vision therapy provided through our Vision Learning Center. Located within the same building as all of our other services, we have such a volume of pediatric patients that 40 percent of products sold in our optical are children’s eyewear. Before the renovation, the kid’s section of the optical was located in a high-traffic area of a hallway next to the exam rooms.
Now, children have their own section in our optical with pull-out cabinets for easy access that makes it possible them to see the frames up close and try them on without having to summon someone to get it for them. This enhanced access achieves one of our goals for the new optical: We wanted an approachable environment, rather than a space in which patients felt they needed to ask us–like gatekeepers–permission to touch and try on the products.
Sunwear is Highlighted with a Sunglass Tower
Sunwear also became more accessible after the renovation. Every patient, even emmetropes, can benefit from sunwear to protect their eyes from ultra-violet radiation from the sun. Another goal for the renovation was to increase sunwear sales.
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Before, our sunwear was displayed in locked cabinets. Now, we have a sunglass tower display patients can’t help but notice. The products are in the open on little platforms along the tower for patients to try on without having to come to us to get it for them. Patients gravitate so strongly to our new sunwear display that our front-desk employees tell us there are always people in our optical trying on sunglasses.
This increased interest and excitement has resulted in a 50 percent increase in plano sunwear sales and a 20 percent increase in total sunwear sold.
New Lighting Was Installed that Made a Huge Difference
In our old space, our optical was lit with florescent lighting. Now, it is lit with color correct/color match LED lighting laid out by the design team we hired at Eye Designs to help us with the renovation. We used to have patients who returned glasses because once they left our office, the frames did not look like the color they were in our office. Now, if glasses are returned, it’s never because the color wasn’t what the patient thought it was when they ordered it. To make sure those frame colors stand out on our frame board, we decided on only neutral colors for the walls and any art we display.
We Enhanced the Overall Ambiance
Ambiance means more than what you see, so we invested in a new sound system and speakers for background music and added scent diffusers that emit scents like citrus.
Pre-pandemic, we were known for our complimentary snacks, which included pastries and fresh fruit. Now, to keep the food we offer germ-free, we only offer snacks that come in sealed packages, like crackers and cookies. We also have a restaurant-quality drip coffee maker with fresh coffee available at all times.
The renovation created the comfortable, friendly space we and our patients always wanted–the perfect place to shop for new eyewear.
One of our patients put it best: “The facility has recently remodeled and it is beautiful, which is the icing on the cake for this place.”