I happen to really like anti-reflection coatings on eyeglass lenses. All of my personal glasses have it and I recommend it to patients. But I noticed that the sales of this product were rather mediocre in our practice. Our office was at a measly 9% usage - while statistics show that 19% of glasses in the U.S. have A/R - Canada is at 40% usage, Europe is at 75% and Japan at a whopping 95%! We take pride in being a progressive office that dispenses high quality optical materials - so I decided to study this issue closer.
It occurred to me that while I love A/R coatings, not everyone does. We have all experienced a patient who just does not like the product because it shows smudges and oils and can scratch easier than non-coated lenses. Of course, these problems have been greatly reduced with newer technology, but it is still true. The percentage of people who dislike A/R is very small, however. Most people enjoy the benefits so much that after trying A/R, they continue to order it on all subsequent pairs of glasses.
So I wondered if any of my technicians who discuss lens options with our patients during frame selection happened to personally dislike A/R themselves. I know they are professionals, and that they accurately explain A/R, but do they have it on their own glasses? Do they heartily endorse it to every patient? Perhaps they are concerned that the patient may not like it - or that it costs so much - or that it takes much longer for the glasses to be ready.
After speaking with key staff members, I learned that some did not personally endorse the product. Some felt we should use a different lab for higher quality, some felt badly when a patient returned and they had to field a complaint, and some were just a little unaware of the benefits! I reviewed our policies and held a staff meeting specifically to discuss A/R coatings. Here are the main points I covered:
· A review of the benefits and the drawbacks of A/R coatingsI am happy to report that A/R coating usage immediately tripled following this meeting and is holding steady!
· A review of how to educate the patient about A/R
· How to not pre-judge what people will want or can afford
· A review of cleaning A/R lenses (we dispense free cloth and cleaner)
· A need for our practice to present a unified approach on products - and our approach is that we like A/R coatings
· We would start using a new lab with better quality and service
· We always guaranteed A/R against scratches and defects for one year, and we strip the coating if a patient was not satisfied, but we added a new policy. We now offer a 60-day money-back policy on all A/R coatings - removing any risk in trying it.
· The new thing is to recommend A/R on photochromic lenses! It makes them look clearer indoors and eliminates glare that can occur in the darkened state.
· You must have plenty of samples for your staff to demonstrate to patients. I like using a finished pair of glasses - one lens with an A/R coat and the other without. If the tech puts these on her own face while looking at the patient, the product is immediately understood and usually sold.
· Have staff mention that fine quality lenses - like cameras, telescopes and binoculars - all have A/R.