Optometric Management Tip # 12   -   Wednesday, April 10, 2002
What color would you like?

I remember reading once that Walgreen’s coffee shops (this was years ago) made millions of dollars through the use of one word. When a customer would order a Coca-Cola, the counter person was trained to simply say… “large?”. They would never ask “small?”, or “large or small?” or “what size?”. The customer’s answer was usually “yes”.

I have found a similarly simple and effective way to promote color contacts in our practice. When a patient asks to be fitted with contacts, our technicians or doctors say… “What color would you like”? This might surprise the patient a bit, but we act like it is just a routine factor that we need to know. And it actually is. Why should we assume everyone wants clear lenses? Why should we treat color contacts like they are special-order product? We often just need to change our mindset. Patients are actually quite pleased when given the choice – and they think our practice is very advanced in contact lens technology. Many patients do not choose clear.

This phrase also works great when an established patient returns for a routine exam and wants a new supply of disposable lenses. A re-fitting exam and fee is usually not necessary, especially if we stay within the same lens brand. By positioning color selection as a routine and basic part of the fitting process, we fit more color lenses.

Here are two other bonus tips we found helpful in building the color contact lens practice:

(1) We use one of the new computerized dispensing camera systems to take a picture of the patient and try on virtual color contacts, instead of opening so many trial pairs. It’s fun for the patient and they talk about it to their friends.
(2) When we do use trial lenses, we sometimes “piggyback” the plano color trial lenses on top of a patient’s own clear Rx lenses, or on top of clear Rx trials from our stock if the patient doesn’t wear contacts. We only do this for higher powers, and only in our office, but it may help a patient see what they look really like in a mirror, and from a greater distance.
Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management