Article Date: 5/1/2008

Too Many Bells And Whistles Are Noisy

Too Many Bells And Whistles Are Noisy

In your practice, it helps to see through upgrades, add-ons and extras.

Jim Thomas

Here I sit staring at an Internet brochure. The standard monthly plan allows downloads at speeds of 5Mbps, but an upgrade to 15Mbps costs only $10 more. Wait, there's a "Faster Plus" package and even a "Fastest" package that provides download speeds of 30Mbps. Maybe I need that. Wait again, the price of the best package is a fast $139.95 per month (plus taxes). Maybe not.

Should I upgrade? I know that Mbps refers to "millions of bits per second," but I have no clue as to what that means or how, specifically, more Mbps will actually improve my life. Without direction, dissatisfaction will surely ensue. Either I'll have the worst plan or I'll have paid too much.


In a nutshell, this is why upgrades grate on me. I cringe at the commercial that advertises the base price of a car at $19,995 but then goes on to show a vehicle that's "nicely appointed" for $29,995. Mr. Auto Seller, we've yet to shake hands and you're already asking for another 10 grand? "This car has all the bells and whistles you could wish for," a car dealer once told me. I hadn't used a bell or whistle in years — I wouldn't know what I'd do with them now.

The problem is that too often, sales are framed in terms that have little relevance to the buyer. (Without understanding its value, "OnStar" sounds like just another voice in my car telling me what to do.)

In your practice, you constantly face questions regarding upgrades to any number of items, including computer hardware and software systems, equipment and facilities. If you can't understand how the upgrades, extras and add-ons will impact your practice in terms of patient care, efficiencies and revenues, you need a better sales consultant.

Not in your practice

When it comes to patient care, let me suggest that you avoid using the "U" word. If a patient spends a good deal of time boating and fishing, then is a good pair of polarized sunglasses an upgrade or a requirement for healthy vision? If a patient has a family history of retinal disease, should you recommend fundus photography as the best care, or as an add-on test?

Rest assured, we're not discussing sales. To understand a patient's history, health and lifestyle, you need the skills of an investigator. To then communicate the conditions and solutions to the patient, you need to become an educator.

The result: You'll generate more patients who are healthy, happy and loyal. How's that for an upgrade? OM

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2008