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 By Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, Editor November 24, 2010 - Tip #458 
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Showcase Photochromic Lenses in Your Practice

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I'm a big believer in making things happen rather than sitting back and waiting for something to happen.  So here is an idea: feature an optical product, like photochromic lenses, in your practice for one month.  Photochromic month will start with a seminar for staff members and continue with special promotions to patients.  The goal is to talk about photochromics with everyone, educate patients about the benefits and dramatically increase sales.  I have found that if my staff and I become enthusiastic about something, we prescribe it, sell it, and dispense it extremely well.  All we have to do is talk about it with every patient and sales go up. 

Please note that I prefer to use generic terms in my tip articles but you can easily substitute your favorite brand name for photochromic technology.

Pick any optical product
Photochromic lenses are an excellent example for a featured product of the month, because they have broad appeal to everyone who wears glasses.  However, from time to time, you could select any optical product you wish and make it a featured product of the month.  It could be an ophthalmic lens option, a contact lens, a sunglass, a frame brand, a frame material or just about any product.  Here are some other possibilities:

  • Premium antireflective lenses.
  • High index or polycarbonate materials for thinner and lighter lenses.
  • Digitally surfaced progressive lenses.
  • Rx or non-Rx sunglasses.
  • Computer glasses.
  • A new frame line or brand.
  • Daily disposable contacts.
  • A specific multifocal contact lens brand.

Gather practice data
Featuring a specific product can provide you with excellent data about how high sales could be.  To measure an increase in sales of a product or a category, you first must know the usual sales volume.

In our example, I would review a production report for the past year in your practice and note the total number of photochromic lenses sold and the total sales volume in dollars.  Even more important is to convert this data into a percentage of sales.  To do this you also need the total number of all eyeglass lenses sold for the same time period, including single vision and multifocals.  Divide the photochromic number by the total lens number and you might see that 20% of all lenses sold were photochromic.  If you do the same procedure for the month when photochromic lenses are featured, you can note the increase.

What if the special emphasis on photochromic lenses resulted in 50% of all lens sales having that feature?  You would learn that that your market for photochromic is much bigger than you thought and you would also have significantly higher net revenue that month.

Gather product information
In order to properly motivate and train your staff to sell photochromic lenses you should develop a fact sheet.  Materials like this are readily available from lens suppliers and would include information about how the lens works, all the various forms of the product (photochromics come in gray, brown and other colors, they come in various lens materials, they come in darker versions that are great for driving and for dedicated sunglass wear).  Find out about how clear the lenses are indoors and how long it takes for them to darken.  The most important sales tool is a list of benefits the consumer will derive.  This would include the freedom from having to carry a second pair of sunglasses and protection from UV light.

Train staff
A special staff meeting about photochromic lenses can be presented by the doctor, the optician or a sales representative from your lab.  Make the presentation upbeat and exciting.  Include information about the benefits of photochromics and also discuss how to sell by asking questions.  Use the fact sheet from above and the promo items mentioned below.  Try role play with one staff member acting as a patient.

I'm not convinced that bonuses, commissions or spiffs are needed to sell a high volume of photochromic lenses, but I think it would be a great idea to set up a special program just for photochromic month.  Consider setting a specific goal and if it is reached the entire staff would receive special treat, such as a gift card to a fine restaurant.  Or pay a cash bonus based on a percentage of sales over and above an average month.

Promotional ideas

  • Offer a special patient discount during photochromic month.  This generates additional excitement and makes it easy for your staff to bring up the idea of photochromics to every eyeglass patient.
  • Bringing up the concept of photochromics to every patient is the key to success and there is nothing more powerful than a recommendation from the doctor. 
  • Don't just ask if the patient would like photochromics or has ever considered them... use the words "I recommend..." 
  • Talk about how much the technology has advanced; dispel the myths that exist.
  • Since the lenses become nearly completely clear indoors, indicate there is really no reason to not get them
  • Extend the promotional event to the community and to your patient base with direct mail pieces, advertising, email blasts and a special announcement on your practice website.
  • Be sure to have plenty of counter cards and posters about photochromic technology on display.  Ask your lab or lens rep.
  • Have demo lenses and a UV sun simulator.  The best way to explain and sell lenses is to have a sample in your hands.  Have several uncut photochromic lenses for your optical and even some complete pairs of glasses made up to show how they look and how they work.
  • Walking outside on a sunny day with your patient and with a pair of photochromic lenses is a dramatic way to show how great the lenses are.  Covering part of a lens to show the before and after effect is an excellent demonstration technique.
  • Don't forget to couple photochromics with premium antireflective technology.  Those two technologies cut glare in very different ways and the best lenses would have both.

Photochromic month will instill so much confidence about the product in you and your staff that higher sales will become the norm.

Best wishes for continued success,

Read Past Tips Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week

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Send questions and comments to neil@gailmard.com.

Dr. Gailmard offers consulting services to eye care professionals through Prima Eye Group; information is available at www.primaeyegroup.com.

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