Optometric Management Tip # 13   -   Wednesday, April 17, 2002
How does your staff really feel about A/R coatings?

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 coatings
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.
I am happy to report that A/R coating usage immediately tripled following this meeting and is holding steady!

Bonus Tips:
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.

Best wishes for continued success,

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