Optometric Management Tip # 24   -   Wednesday, July 03, 2002
Professional fees

When was the last time you raised your exam fee? Or your spectacle lens fees? Are you keeping pace with your practice expenses? Are you charging what you’re worth?

In my experience, most optometrists don’t charge as much as their services are worth when compared with other professions and service trades. Yet patients have rarely ever noticed when I have increased my fees over the years, so I’m often puzzled why there seems to be such reluctance. There is no question that the increase in gross and net revenue can be dramatic as a result.

So this week’s tip is… don’t forget to raise your fees on a regular basis. All your costs are going up – including staff salaries – and so must fees. Even if you accept many vision plans that won’t allow you to realize the increase anyway, your usual fee should reflect where you position your services. In fact, since you set the usual fee, it telegraphs to the public how good you think your services are. What does it say if the fee is average? If this results in a larger discount to vision plans, at least you and your patients will see a true price – value relationship. 

Every doctor must set his or her own fees by analyzing many factors, including the services delivered and the competitive landscape, but I would like to repeat a wonderful story I read in a book titled Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. This is an excellent quick read on marketing, by the way. The story goes like this:

A man had an annoying squeak in his wooden floor. Not knowing how to fix it, he called a carpenter, whom he heard from many sources was a fine craftsman. The carpenter came to the house, looked at the floor, produced one nail and his hammer, and with three quick blows, he drove the nail into the floor. The squeak was gone. 

The man was very happy, and he asked how much he owed the carpenter. The carpenter replied “$67”. 

The man was surprised at the amount and he quickly said “$67?? It only took you a few seconds... how could it be $67?”

The carpenter presented the man with a bill, which looked like this:

Carpenter’s Invoice

· Hammering…………..……………….... $2
· Knowing where to hammer……….. $65

· TOTAL……………………………………. $67

 

It occurred to me that we could draw a similar analogy for optometrists. The fees shown are for example only.

Optometrist’s Invoice

· Clicking the dials…………..…………. $5
· Knowing what to prescribe..……..$45
· Shining light in eye……….……….…..$5
· Knowing what is normal…………….$65

· TOTAL…………………………….……..$120

Best wishes for continued success,

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