Optometry is a unique field of medicine because it’s very clinical, but it’s also very commercial. It’s a delicate balance that doctors and practices must walk.
Some practices tend to be more clinical in tone, while others focus more of their business on the retail sales of glasses and contacts. Other practices try to walk a middle road between the two extremes.
Both sides are important and vital for a practice, but as private practice optometry changes yearly, it’s clear that retail has a major place. Here are some ideas for improving your retail sales:
1.Focus on educational sales. Eyewear and contacts can be expensive for patients who hear a lot of jargon from their opticians and doctors. Anti-reflective coatings, polarization, high index lenses…blah, blah, blah. Your patients usually need a few reminders, so train your staff to slip in simple explanations as to why these options are important to the health of their eyes. Then, the decision to purchase them isn’t based solely on the dollar signs.
2.Create packages and special offers. Many patients don’t have vision insurance, and if they do, sometimes they need a second pair of glasses. By creating packages that actually provide value, you can capture more sales that would otherwise walk out your door.
3.Pay attention to your inventory. Keep a fresh inventory of frames that are in style so that your customers will purchase from you. Stay on top of trends to make sure that you are carrying frames that will move easily.
4.Don’t be stingy. Many practices have policies that make it hard for a patient to get their prescription. In the long run, the only thing these policies do is upset patients. Yes, you hate to see the patient walk out of the door with the RX slip, but that is their right. The friendlier you and your staff are, the more likely that patient will come back to you and purchase in the future. If you tick them off, odds are, you’ll have lost them for life, and you might even find a nasty little review floating around on Google from them too.
5.Show off the retail side of your business. Make your displays a featured part of your office, not some back closet of shame. Show off some beautiful new glasses that just came back from the lab to demonstrate the quality of work that can be done, or the gorgeous frames you carry. Post and talk about it on social media as a way to keep your patients connected to the retail side of your business year-round.
Retail is difficult. In many cases, you are competing against giants in the industry and also online sales. However, if you want retail to be a significant part of your optometry practice, you MUST give it the time and attention it deserves!