Optometric Management Tip # 54   -   Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Contact Lens Profitability

Many optometrists wonder what they can do to restore profitability to their contact lens practices. Let's look at the real world challenges: The first step to restoring profit is to look at the time you and your staff spends on fitting contact lenses. Your office procedures, which often stem from what you were taught in optometry school, may need to be revamped in response to all the improvement we've seen in contact lens materials and designs. They are easier to fit and healthier to wear then they were years ago - and our services must reflect this. So examine your own policies and see how you can streamline, simplify and delegate more to staff. Can you reduce the number of visits needed? Can you shorten the time slot needed for an appointment? Can you stock more lenses to reduce chair time, ordering and dispensing visits? Can you have your technicians assist more? Any task that your staff can do instead of you increases profitability - even if you have to hire more staff.

The second step may be to raise your fees. Charge a separate contact lens evaluation fee on all exams for CL wearers; charge a refit fee, a new patient fitting fee and a complex fitting fee. If some patients leave you over it, so be it. You have to be profitable, or why do it? The lens price can be slightly higher than other sources - but your professional fees can be much higher if you build value in your services.

Third, remember the reason anyone selects a company to do business with - great service. How does Border's and Barnes & Noble still sell books with Amazon.com around? They make the experience of coming to the store fun and rewarding. And they are doing very well. Is your office easy to do business with, friendly, on time, open convenient hours, attractive, etc.? Are you doing something special?

A few other tips:
Best wishes for continued success,

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