By Ian G. Whipple, OD
Oct. 16, 2019
Optical sales that seem to have walked out the door aren’t necessarily lost; they’re just delayed, and can still be captured.
Here is the system my practice uses to capture those sales to keep them from going from delayed to lost.
For Those Patients Who Need to Think About It
We define a delayed sale as any sale that occurred after the exam. Every patient who leaves with a prescription for glasses who doesn’t purchase at that moment is given a custom quote.
This is especially important for those patients who say that they need to come back with a spouse or parent to help them with their selections.
These patients often review the financial information and are better informed about their glasses options when they do return. The vast majority of these delayed sales return within a couple of weeks from their examination.
Every patient who doesn’t purchase immediately gets a printed quote that names the products they need, breaks down the cost and describes the glasses in terms that are easy to understand.
This custom quote is printed on a single sheet of paper that is given to the patient in a file folder, which can’t just be folded and tossed into a purse. Our hope is that when the patient leaves our office they’ll use this quote as a guide when purchasing eyewear.
Often our patients will come back saying that they’ve priced out the specific products they need and they are ready to purchase from us. Sometimes the returning patient will even say that we’re not necessarily the least expensive option, but that they trust us more with their eyes, and that’s the reason they have decided to purchase from us.
We use the quote as a starting point for those patients who seem to be less interested in purchasing from us at the outset. When a patient tells us they are going to purchase elsewhere, we say something like, “in all fairness let us provide you with a quote so that you can compare apples to apples while shopping. You may be pleasantly surprised at the affordability of our glasses.”
The Printed Quote System Works
Our capture rate has stayed about the same since introducing the quote system, but our average optical transaction has increased by $29.16.
We haven’t increased prices, or changed anything in the way we prescribe or place eyewear orders, so we feel that the use of our quote system is at least in part (or mostly) responsible for this increase.
We used our Essilor Experts data to verify our average optical transaction numbers. My opticians say that they use the quote 80 percent of the time. (The only time they don’t use it is when working with a patient who is “guaranteed” to purchase.)
Our opticians report that 3-5 patients return every week with their quote in hand ready to purchase from us after having shopped around.
Our capture rate overall is 54.4 percent, which we strive to further improve. It is flat from last year, but I think that there are also more competitive forces as online and big-box retail glasses continue to threaten private practice. For those reasons, I consider a flat capture rate a win for us.
Create Custom Price Quote Codes for Delayed Sales
Nearly every practice management system can create price quotes, but we found that the software we use was taking too long to generate a quote. So, we created our own computer program to do it for us more efficiently. I coded the math, and with the help of a computer programmer, we were able to create a custom coding software for our office. The same quote system could just as easily have been done on paper.
We obtained a copyright on the program, and though is not available for purchase at this time, we hope to make it available in the future
The Custom Price Quotes Offer Transparency to Patients
Our patients are savvy consumers who want to know that they are getting a great deal. People don’t mind spending money; they just don’t want to overspend. Unless the patient understands exactly what they are getting, they might feel that price is the only factor to consider.
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It is becoming increasingly important that we be transparent and disclose all of the eyewear features with their associated costs, so a patient can feel confident in their purchase. Providing them a precise quote helps establish trust. A patient leaves our office knowing exactly what it is that we offer. Hopefully they’ll recognize that lower-priced eyewear sellers come with sacrifices in quality, warranty and other features.
Train Opticians to Manage Delayed Sales Interactions
We want our patients to understand that they’ll be getting an amazing pair of glasses if they purchase from us. We thank them for spending local, and tell them that we want to provide them with a quote that details the features of their glasses and a breakdown of cost including their insurance savings.
We always present the cost with a script as follows: “Your glasses would have cost $XXX. Your cost with insurance is $XXX, which results in a savings of $XXX.”
We always focus on the savings last. Why is it that we are always so much more proud of the amazing deal that we just got? Somebody could give you a $200 jacket for a present and you’d be pretty excited. You might even tell a few people about the free jacket you just got. If you purchased that same $200 jacket on sale for $50 you better believe that you would tell everybody you know about the amazing deal: “I got this thing for 75 percent off, and it looks amazing on me!”
It’s no different with glasses. We want to celebrate their savings with them.
We use the same messaging in the exam room when patients ask about pricing, or express interest in delaying their purchase. We acknowledge that they can purchase anywhere they like and that we’ll provide them with a copy of their prescription. We tell them that we obviously hope that they’ll purchase from us because we are confident that they’ll get an amazing pair of glasses, and that we would like to at least price it out for them.
Giving Patients Reasons to Say Yes
As noted, we now place the printed glasses quote in a folder that is printed with our logo and contact information. On the back of that folder are the top reasons why we think patients should consider purchasing from us. It is nice enough that we expect that they’ll at least look at it later.
Providing our patients with a custom quote is one of the many ways we have tried to distinguish ourselves from the crowded optical landscape, and we love seeing the results that it has yielded so far.