By Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO
Sept. 15, 2021
Women have made significant upward strides. We are more educated, earn more money, have accumulated more wealth and have more buying power than ever before. It is a well-documented statistic that 85 percent of all purchases and purchase decisions in America are made by women.
Shifting gears for a moment, let’s consider that the median capture rate for optometric offices is at 61 percent, and that capture rate has been stagnant for the past three years or more, according to data from the Management and Business Academy. That means that almost 40 out of every 100 patients walk out your door to purchase prescription eyewear elsewhere.
It’s time to try new strategies. Given the statistics and purchasing power of women, it would benefit most practices to develop new ideas to appeal to women in particular.
To understand how to persuade women, let’s start by looking at what matters to women and what strategies optometric offices can implement.
An attractive dispensing area with a broad and fashion-forward frame selection is essential to compete today. Women need to be reminded from the moment they enter your office that your practice has a current, wide selection of frames, sunglasses and readers. (Yes, readers. It’s about time we started reaping more of the plano sunglass and reader market.) Consider changing up your buying pattern and taking on more interesting product lines.
Women are shoppers; we’ve established that fact. Fifty-three percent of them list price as a major consideration influencing their buying decisions. The simple truth is we can’t ignore price, no matter how much pressure or guilt we apply to our patients. Applying guilt and pressure only alienates our patients ultimately.
Good deals can be in the form of promotions or ongoing office policies that reward patients’ loyalty, multiple-pair purchases and return purchases. An ongoing multiple-pair purchase discount of 20 percent off the second pair and 30 percent off the third pair can be motivating. These discounts should be visible on signage in the office and be honored for one year from their eye examination. Give them a reason to return to your office.
Promotions that are easy to understand are more successful. Promotions with many caveats and layers are often passed up solely because they were too confusing. People make decisions based on emotion and then justify their decisions. Discounts and promotions help patients justify their emotional decisions.
Consider four promotions a year, each running for three months. The easiest are seasonal: spring, summer, fall and holidays. Each promotion should include signage, patient e-mail communication, social media postings and displays. Involve the entire staff in creating the promotion ideas and be sure they communicate all the details to your patients with enthusiasm.
Nielsen’s 2014 corporate social responsibility survey revealed that 55 percent of purchasers were willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. This survey also uncovered that both men and women are aligned in their overall interest in brands and products that give back.
If the doctor, or another in your office, volunteers or sponsors a local charity, be sure those plaques are on your office walls and your website. And if you don’t sponsor a local team or charity, you should consider doing so. You will not only influence patients in your office, but you will likely pick up new patients from your visibility in the community.
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Knowledgeable, Fashion–Forward Opticians
Eyewear and sunwear are fashion accessories. People want direction and advice from people they view as fashionable themselves. Being fashionable is important, but doesn’t take the place of knowledge and personality. A professional, knowledgeable and personable staff is invaluable to the retention and growth of your practice.
Implement some of these strategies and measure the results. I’m betting that taking the time to persuade and appeal to women in your practice will yield positive results.