Article Date: 9/1/2013

Getting With the Program
practice profile
THE UNIQUE SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Getting With the Program

Practice offers patients value through its Contact Lens Program.

CORRIE PELC, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

Contact lenses are a big part of Cheyenne Vision Clinic in Cheyenne, WY. Owned by three partners — Mark Wells, O.D., Martin Carroll, O.D., and Josh Lahiff, O.D. — roughly 40% of their patients wear contact lenses, they say, with between 20% to 30% of their practice revenue generated by such sales.

The doctors say their success comes from their full-service Contact Lens Program.

Beginnings

When disposable contact lenses first hit the market, Dr. Carroll says patients had a hard time finding value in a “disposable” product. To rectify this, he says he and his colleagues developed a full-service Contact Lens Program that they say provides an inventory of lenses, multi-purpose solutions, replacements for lost and torn lenses, exchanges if a prescription changes and 24-hour care.

Dr. Wells adds that having a lens inventory has also contributed to a growth in contact lens sales, in that patients are less likely to walk with their prescriptions.

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A staff member explains insertion and removal to a patient as part of the Contact Lens Program.

Global fee

The Contact Lens Program includes a global fee that covers any contact lens-related problems, such as vision changes or comfort issues, the doctors say.

“By charging a global fee up front and making sure our patients know we are here for them regarding any issues with their contact lenses, they realize the value in that program,” says Dr. Lahiff.

Dr. Wells says that he and his colleagues have figured out the economics to be able to charge a certain fee for contact lenses and management, so that the Clinic still sees a “good” profit even if certain patients require more chair time.

Annual supply

Dr. Carroll says stressing an annual supply has also helped make their Contact Lens Program successful.

“Patients [purchasing] a yearly supply basically marries them to your practice and prevents them from shopping online [or] going to another provider,” he explains.

To encourage annual supply purchases, Dr. Carroll says that, during the exam, he and his colleagues explain to patients that it encourages healthy contact lens wear, as it reminds patients of the correct time to change their lenses, and it saves them money.

The outcome

Overall, the Cheyenne Vision Clinic doctors say they normally see a 10% increase in their contact lens sales annually. And in tough economic times, they’ve still seen an 8% to 9% increase.

“There’s a lot of erosion in private practices where people shop online, go to retailers for their product, and we just don’t have that many people who do that because they can see the value of the ‘onestop shop’ program,” Dr. Carroll explains.

Advice for others

Through the past 23 years of selling contact lenses, Dr. Wells says he has learned success really depends on patient trust and respect.

“In today’s world, if you treat patients right, the customer service is top notch and your exam and all that tie together, they will trust you and stay and buy contact lenses through your clinic.” OM

DO YOU HAVE A UNIQUE PRACTICE? E-MAIL JENNIFER.KIRBY@PENTAVISIONMEDIA.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: September 2013, page(s): 96