There are several strategies for separating high performing opticals from others. At the top of the list are exceeding customer expectations, employing technically knowledgeable and talented opticians, great sales opticians and a well-designed, modern and well-merchandised optical space, not necessarily in that order. Nothing, however, matters if you, the doctor, don’t give your opticians the opportunity to sell.
ODs are often taught by practice management experts that the opportunity to sell emanates from the exam room conversation. This important conversation lays the foundation on which the sale is built. Without a good foundation, even the best sales optician can struggle to make a sale, or at least make a great sale. Patients look for strong recommendations from their doctor, and the opportunity to sell eyewear begins with those recommendations. Doctors should introduce patients to the health and lifestyle benefits certain lenses and lens treatments provide, and more specifically those that address the patients’ chief complaints as a segue to handing off to their opticians.
The most important yet often the most overlooked execution of the sales strategy is the simple act of ensuring your patient physically gets in front of your optician. If your handoff doesn’t include face-to-face time with the sales optician you are letting an opportunity slip through your fingertips. First and most importantly you must have great salespeople. Secondly, you must trust them to make a sale. Thirdly, you must physically get your patient in front of your sales optician and lastly, lay the seeds for future sales by establishing the dynamic for future sale success.
Great salespeople enhance your optical sales and profitability. They remove the importance of selling from the exam lane, providing you more time to fulfill your role as a doctor. They add value to your patient’s experience when they are confident, knowledgeable and interested in making your patients see well and look good. They build relationships with patients in ways that build brand loyalty to your business. Great salespeople are an absolute must for anyone who hopes to have a successful optical especially in light of all the competitive challenges we face these days.
Get Your Patient In Front of the Optician – Trust Them to Make a Sale
Whether or not your patients have an Rx change or they tell you they are not buying glasses today, or they may or may not have vision plan benefits this year or whether or not they even have refractive error at all be sure they get in front of your optician. How do you ensure this? Simple. No one in your practice and I mean NO ONE should be enabled to provide a written eyeglass Rx except your sales opticians.
You can’t expect that your techs, office manager or receptionists are going to save a sale from someone who wants their Rx to go. Only your sales opticians can work to keep sales in office. Sales opticians explain how you offer better quality eyewear WITH high-level customer service at similar prices as the big box stores and even online opticals. Only sales opticians can turn your patients into educated eyewear consumers. That patient who had no Rx change may want a new style or lens option or may need to be convinced they want a new style or lens option, spare pair or sun wear. That patient who tells you they are not interested in buying new eyewear today may not really know what they want or don’t want or are being passive aggressive. That patient with no vision plan benefits might have a flexible medical account they need to drain and that patient with no refractive error may need sun wear or protective eyewear for their extreme sport.
Establish the Dynamic for Future Sale Success
If you enable that patient to avoid your sales team by letting your guard down, you establish a negative sales pattern for their next visit to your office. That pattern includes patronizing another optical and, even worse, maybe not even considering yours. Not the pattern you want. Use these strategies to feed them back into your system. When a patient goes to a retail location where the doctor’s office is in the back of the store and they have to walk through the optical to do anything else that is purposeful both to make a sale the day of and also psychologically this acts to establish a dynamic for additional sales when the patient returns. People get in their modes and stay there. Consider this when designing your optical, make sure every patient sees an optician and understands the value you provide and in doing so you work to ensure future sales by attempting to establish this dynamic for your patients.
Last week we had a patient with no Rx change. After the exam, dilation, and EO I explained how pleased I was that their eye health status was stable and they required no refractive change. I asked to see their glasses, showed them a scratch in the left lens, pointed out their green nose pads and flailing temple arms and said, “We’ll clean these up and answer any questions you may have”. The optician was buzzed into the lane and escorted the patient into the optical. Sitting down with the optician she asked for a written copy of her Rx which was willingly provided. She walked out of our office……after purchasing three full pairs of eyewear. Look around at your processes and ask yourself if that was your patient at what point would they have walked out of your office?