Optometric Management Tip # 289   -   Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Professional Courtesy Discounts

Continuing with our discussion on office policies and writing the office manual, let's consider discounts and courtesies. How do you decide what to offer and to whom and how do you design a system so discounts are applied fairly?

Know your objectives

Half the battle in managing your policy on discounts is getting organized and writing things down. Before deciding on a policy, consider what you want to accomplish. Providing a gesture of good will to people you care about is one thing, offering discounts as a marketing tool is another. The former is done for altruistic reasons and is purely up to the practice owner, the latter is not very effective, in my experience.

I think providing discounts on services and products have a place, but many practices look to discounts as a major way to attract business. Discounts can really hurt practice profitability and most of the time they do not actually increase business, but rather just lower the cost for people who were going to buy at full price anyway.

Groups

Discounts often vary based on the relationship. Let's look at some major groups of people and consider what discount policy might be appropriate. While many of these decisions are purely up to the owner's discretion, I'll give you some food for thought. Be aware that insurance plans have policies that vary widely about how to handle discounts and write-offs. In some cases insurance may cover all of your charges and in other cases you may be prohibited from offering discounts or waiving co-payments. Be sure to follow the rules of any plan you participate with, but let's consider discounts when insurance is not involved. Amounts

Discounts should vary based on the relationship. Consider these options:
Best wishes for continued success,

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