There are many challenges to running an office in the ever-shifting environment of optical. You know most of them already as they pertain to insurance, coding, vision-care plans and trying to adopt the medical model into your practice.
There is a whole other side of your business that frankly is often overlooked, the optical. If I meet ten doctors, nine of them spend less than five minutes a week in the optical. Why? You own it, don’t you?
Here are the top 10 things that if you do half of them you will gross another $100K in business per year- no kidding.
1) Your attitude. The reality is that we are business people first, doctors and opticians second. As a businessperson, you own both sides of the house, medical and retail. Yet, rarely do I ever see a doctor spending time focusing on the retail side of the business. Ironically, this side of the house brings in between 40 – 60% of total gross revenue. That is a lot of money and potentially more money to leave to others to manage. Leave your coat at the door and manage and embrace the other half of your business as intensely as you do your medical. I guarantee you will reap huge rewards.
2) Digital and Freeform lenses. The top selling lens today being sold was introduced to the market over 20 years ago. I wish it wasn’t so. If only we would have adopted “planned obsolescence” many years ago as other industries have done. If you are not selling at least 10% (or more) of your total daily lens sales as Digital or Freeform, make that a goal. Patients today want the best in lens technology and as an industry it has never been better. Adding one more Digital or Freeform sale per day will equal $100 in added revenue per day.
3) Anti-Reflective Coatings. The best and easiest recommendations I give clients is to AR everything and let the patient opt out of having it. It is that important of a coating and technology. Selling a high-end AR coating will provide greater patient comfort and satisfaction with their glasses. And, it too will add another $100 per day in revenue if you sell just one more job a day with a premium AR. Do 70% of your jobs have AR on them? If not, get on it. This one is a no-brainer.
4) Photochromics. What percentage of jobs per day are sold as photochromic? There was a study done several years ago where they did a simple survey. They asked consumers (patients) before they went into the optical shop if they intended to buy photochromics. They were asked what they actually bought on the way out. Thirty-six percent of patients said they intended to buy and only twenty percent actually did. What happened to the sixteen percent? They were talked out of it by an optician with two simple sentences; “They don’t get dark behind the windshield” and “They don’t return to clear very quickly.” Both sentences are more of a reflection of older technology than what is available today. More importantly, the other half the story needs to be told about photochromics and often isn’t; the reason they don’t darken behind a windshield is because they weren’t designed to. That’s why we have polaroid sunwear to manage glare and sun fatigue in a car. Those two sentences cost our industry almost $1.0B ten years ago. Make it a goal to sell 30% of eyewear in photochromic. And yes, it too will yield $100 per pair in gross revenue if you sell just one more pair a day.
5) Sun/Second Pairs. VisionWatch tracks all kinds of neat statistics about our patients/consumers. One such number states that 37% of patients will buy what a doctor prescribes from the chair, regardless of price. However, we know that patients come with their own game of “wits” when they are about to buy something. Every patient should have four (4) Rx’s when they leave the exam chair. They need a separate script for an everyday, outdoor, task, and occupation (digital) glasses. Why four? Because the patient will end up buying two (everyday and sun). If you prescribe two pair, chances are they will only buy one and you miss out on selling them the very important sun- wear. Each second pair net about $100 a day in new revenue.
6) Hire the right people. I ask people frequently “Are you hiring enough freaky people in your office?” Freaky people- those that don’t think like you and I and challenge the way we look at what we do and why we do it. Sure they can be tricky to manage at times however, if you want your office to stay current with society and what is trending- hire people that don’t think, act and believe what you do. No one needs more “group think.”
7) Practice what you say. The best teachers will tell you that it is not practice that makes perfect. It’s perfect practice that makes perfect. Each day we have conversations with patients that have the same components to them; explaining benefits, lens selection, coating options and frame designs. Most of the time these conversations end with a positive outcome for both parties. However, sometimes they don’t and we need to have a well-practiced response to common questions or objections. As a team, sit down and rehearse answers to common questions like “why do I need AR coating on my lenses?” Or “I just want to take my prescription and shop around a little.” Leaving the answers unrehearsed is leaving money on the table.
8) Have an online strategy. Glasses are going the same way as contact lenses, online. Do you have a strategy? Many offices have contemplated giving up the optical because of the influence of online shopping. Before you take such drastic action, keep in mind that online shoppers represent about 14% of the market. The other 86% need you to provide goods and services. Second, many people are going to try online at least once. Make sure you don’t leave the patient feeling like they have no optical home if they do. Remember, they are not rejecting you they are just curious what the experience will be like. If you feel you need an on-line store try partnering with a company that already has one and partner with them on every sale. No need to reinvent the wheel.
9) Benchmarks. Are you above the national average? Are you above your peers in sales? Jobs per day? Patients seen per day? Revenue per patient? If you don’t know, find out. It may be just the push you need to look at your business with renewed eyes.
10) Get Emotional. There is nothing more emotional than dealing with sight. People’s number one fear is going blind and as such there is a lot of emotion over the fear of loss and the comfort of seeing their life clearly. Check to make sure that you bring emotion into your office. Have fun, laugh, enjoy, celebrate, provide comfort as well as joy to your patients. Make them feel like they are the most important person of the day. Then repeat that thought 30 times a day!
“Why challenge my practice with these 10 things?” The answer is simple, revenue. If you add up the four items that will generate $100 each per day in your office, that equals to $9000 in additional revenue if you sell just one more of each per day. Over a one-year period of time that is an additional $108,000. We didn’t add a single patient, spend any more money on marketing or even held a trunk show. All we did was to sell the patient what they wanted and needed to see clearly for now and in the future.