Article Date: 5/1/2010

Selling That “Second Pair”
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Selling That “Second Pair”

Start by thinking less about discounts and more about financing.

GARY GERBER, O.D.

We'd all like to do a better job selling that “second pair” of glasses. Yet when confronted with the challenge of increasing optical sales, we're often paralyzed by a common roadblock: Anything that relates to “more sales” translates to patients having to spend more money. And when that reality hits, many O.D.s, panic, and fear sets in.

“I can't charge patients anything more than their plan covers, or they'll think I'm trying to sell something.” Or: “Times are tough. I'm not comfortable talking about something that would mean my patient has to spend more money.” For this reason, optometrists wanting to ensure their patients have the appropriate eyewear will perform a knee-jerk default toward discounting glasses. They take what they believe is the path of least resistance, and offer a discount.

The problem with discounts

Aside from losing money, a challenge with discounting eyeglasses after the first pair is that when patients use any sort of vision plan coverage, the first pair is already discounted. From there, many plans dictate yet another discount on successive pairs. Of course, in cases like this you're obligated to play by the rules of the game, and offer any agreed-upon discounts. But when discounts aren't mandated, I advocate using financing instead of discounting.

It's nearly impossible to watch a car commercial that doesn't include talk about financing — often to the exclusion of the benefits of the car. “Zero dollars down and only $349 per month” has eclipsed “31 MPG and a safe, comfortable ride.” The same goes for other purchases, including health care. Cosmetic dentists, orthodontists, refractive and plastic surgeons have offered financing for years. The point is that financing is nothing new to patients, but it's in its infancy in optometry. Properly positioned, though, it can be a profitable tool to stimulate your eyeglass sales.


ILLUSTRATION BY SYLVIE PINSONNEAUX

Presenting the second pair

Consider these two presentations — two different patients — for the same two pairs of glasses.

Patient One: The fee for your first pair of glasses, including the frame, lenses and special lens treatments is $511. Your second pair is $389, and we'll extend a 20% discount on that pair. That makes your total $822.20. How would you like to take care of that — cash, check or charge?”

Patient Two: The fee for your first pair of glasses, including the frame, lenses and special lens treatments is $511. Your second pair is $33 today and $33 per month for the next 11 months. That makes your total for today $544. How would you like to take care of that — cash, check or charge?”

Financing companies are available to O.D.s that will set up the financing for you so you don't have to administer this yourself (and subsequently avoid any risk). Yes, the financing company will charge you for this service, but that cost will be significantly less than most discounts many practitioners offer. (I've seen that discount be as high as 50%, or in the case of “buy one get one free,” 100%!)

Additionally, companies that offer this sort of financing to your patients typically have the ability to list your practice on their “find a doctor” section of their websites. This gives you an even wider reach of patients — many of whom are used to the financing concept with their other doctors. OM


DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (800) 867-9303.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2010