By Linda Conlin,
Jan. 10, 2018
Selling multiple pairs is a key to both patient satisfaction and revenue generation. The more visual solutions you provide to your patients, the happier they are with your practice, the more products they buy from you, and the more your bottom line increases.
As a licensed optician for the last 40 years in multiple practices, and now managing editor of 20/20 Magazine’s Pro-to-Pro newsletter, I’ve experienced what works and what doesn’t in building multiple-pair sales.
A look at the numbers reveals why improving multiple-pair sales is worth it. According Key Metrics: Assessing Optometric Practice Performance, eyewear sales represent an average gross revenue of 43 percent of the practice revenue, and the average eyewear sale is $227 with a gross profit of $138. Selling even one more pair of glasses each week represents an additional gross profit of more than $7,000 annually. Consider a small practice with an annual gross revenue of $500,000. Eyewear would represent about $215,000 of that. Increasing that revenue by $7,000 represents a gain of 3 percent. Practices with higher average sales could realize even greater gains.
Start By Measuring Where You Are
Identify your practice’s current multiple-pair sales as a percentage of total pair sales. U.S. median multiple pair sales is 10 percent, according to Key Metrics. However, the same study notes that 33 percent of eyeglass wearers report using more than one pair of glasses, an indication that most practices are missing a big opportunity.
Initially, set higher goals in small increments, and present them in concrete numbers. For example, if your practice sells 50 pairs of glasses each week, and 10 percent are multiple pairs, that’s five multiple pairs per week. Increasing multiple-pair sales to 12 percent requires selling only one more pair per week. Staff should see that as easily achievable. As multiple-pair sales gain momentum, goals can be increased weekly, semi-monthly or monthly.
Incentivize Staff: Money Not Necessarily Required
Incentives don’t always need to be financial. If the staff already works on incentives for sales, they know that selling more pairs increases their incentive dollars. Something extra for second-pair sales might be as simple as a certificate of recognition. As a district manager for a frame company, I sent monthly congratulations cards to the best achievers in certain categories. As I visited offices, I was surprised to see those cards hanging on the walls in the employee areas. There was an internal competition to see who could collect the most cards. A $10 gift card to the nearest coffee shop goes a long way, too. To get the whole staff involved, consider a pizza lunch to celebrate everyone working together to achieve the multiple-pair goal.
One Size Never Fits All
The most important factor in multiple-pair sales is lifestyle dispensing. A “one size fits all” approach to eyewear no longer fills the needs of most patients. Staff must be educated in communicating with patients to identify patient wants and needs, and then match them with the appropriate products. Lifestyle questions should be part of the pre-exam workup. From that information, the OD can prescribe products or, as I prefer, “visual solutions.”
It is critical that lifestyle information and the OD’s visual solutions are shared with the optical staff. This is best accomplished in the handoff to the optical, when the OD can introduce the patient to the optician and summarize what was prescribed for the patient. Not only does this reinforce what the OD discussed with the patient; it lets the patient know that they are getting personalized, need-based service, and not shuttled off to buy something.
Staff should be familiar with lifestyle questions, whether they are from the exam workup or a similar list of their own. Caring, comfortable communication with the patient is key, and role play is a great way to do that. Staff can practice with each other and offer suggestions for improvement. They can also observe each other during patient interactions and identify missed opportunities, or good techniques, for later discussion.
Contact Lens Patients Need Multiple Glasses & Sunwear
Contact lens patients offer great opportunities for multiple-pair sales. A current pair of prescription glasses is a necessity for contact lens patients, but increased light sensitivity when wearing contacts also makes plano sunglasses important, and task-specific glasses for digital devices, detailed close work, sports, and other activities, also can benefit a contact lens wearer.
Optimize Managed Care Plans to Sell Multiple Pairs
Managed care can be a help in boosting multiple-pair sales. Some plans offer discounts on second pairs, so patients can be encouraged to take full advantage of their plans. Some plans offer great coverage on one pair, making a second pair more affordable. When staff has a printout, or online access, to full plan benefits, they can easily point out the savings to the patient when discussing sunglasses or task-specific eyewear.
Educate in Weekly Meeting & Beyond
Opticians need to be aware of everything from systemic diseases to medications to working and living conditions that can impact vision in order to select the best products for their patients. Digital eye fatigue is becoming more prevalent and readily identified. Is that surprising when people lined up at 4 a.m. to get the newest iPhone, never mind the price tag of about $1,000?
Numerous articles and CE courses are available online and in print on conditions that impact vision, and how to work with them. ODs can share the articles with staff, and perhaps give a “pop quiz” during the weekly meeting. 20/20 Magazine offers free sponsored CEs on new products and techniques to work with digital eye fatigue and other conditions. Sales and education facilitators for lens manufacturers may be available to offer a class at the practice. Some will even provide food for classes held after hours. A dynamic speaker and demonstration materials can make a strong impression on staff.
An excellent CE for improving multiple-pair sales is 2XRX, Doubling the Opportunity from 20/20 Magazine, available HERE. The course presents tips and techniques to educate staff in the how and why of multiple pairs.
Essilor’s ECP University has free content courses on its new lens designs and treatments. If the practice is near an optical laboratory, some labs will allow a “field trip” to show how lenses are designed and manufactured. That kind of experience creates a solid connection between what happens during prescribing, designing and fitting lenses and the final product. In one practice I worked with, we had a weekly conference call with the lab to discuss fitting and designing challenges. We learned a lot about how and what products to order from understanding the lab side of lenses.
Reading product brochures is important, too. We can learn what the manufacturer claims the product will do, why to use it, and how it is marketed to patients.
Linda Conlin is a licensed optician and managing editor of 20/20 Magazine’s Pro-to-Pro Newsletter. To contact: LindaConlin@OpticalCEU.com