Optometric Management Tip # 43   -   Wednesday, November 13, 2002
The Law of Contrast - applied to optical

The primary duties of the optician in my practice are patient education and the technical aspects of fitting eyewear. But, in addition to those responsibilities, selling is another part of the job. Of course, the eyeglass selection process should always be done ethically and professionally, but when the patient moves from the clinic to the dispensary, there is a voluntary transition from patient to customer.

In keeping with that, the technicians and opticians who perform the eyewear selection task should have some training in professional sales. The following story illustrates the law of contrast, which is an important lesson to learn in salesmanship.

Suppose we did an experiment and I asked you to participate. I place three buckets of water in front of you: bucket #1 has very hot water; bucket #2 has water of room temperature and bucket #3 has ice cold water. I ask you to place your hands into hot bucket #1 for a few seconds, and then I have you move them to bucket #2. Your response is likely to be: "Oh, that water is cool!". But if I first had you place your hands in cold bucket #3, then move to #2, you would probably say: "Wow - that water is nice and warm!"

The point is that whatever you experience first changes your perception of whatever comes next. When we apply this to frame prices, you can easily see the effect. If I have a $400 frame, a $250 frame and a $100 frame, which one should I show you first?

In fact it may be a good idea to stock some $400 frames, just in order to sell more $250 frames.

Best wishes for continued success,

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