Unleash Your Contact
Lens Practice Potential
Staff's role in upgrading to colored lenses
HARRINGTON, O.D., Tulsa
In a six-week period the comparatively
slow beginning of summer about 95 patients ordered colored contact lenses
from our Tulsa, Okla., contact lens specialty practice. For a year's supply of lenses,
each of those patients paid about $80 more than they would have if they had been
ordering clear spheres. That represents $7,600 in increased sales to our practice
in just six weeks.
annualize the numbers used to determine the full potential. Upgrading even one patient
a day into colored contact lenses translates to approximately $20,800 a year. That's
based on about 260 work days in the year, including holidays. The impact can become
large very quickly.
So how does a practice capture that kind of potential? In
my 13 years in this practice, I can say without question that patients want colored
contact lenses. It feels less like "selling" than it does "providing" patients with
what they want. Here's how to uncover that interest in your practice.
Effort is minimal
Overall, about 25% of our contact lens sales are in colored contact
lenses. In fact, colored lenses have been such a large part of our practice for
so long, our methods of promoting them are part of the status quo. Initially, I
would say we don't do anything special to promote them, but then I begin to see
the ways that colored contact lenses are so much a part of what we do.
Get the word out
Even before patients enter our office, they know that colored
contact lenses are available here. Our radio and print ads mention the lenses. The
coupon section of the local phone book carries a special offer on colored lenses
at our practice.
Our Web site offers an appealing incentive to visitors. They can
print out coupons offering either an exam and three pairs of clear spheres for a
special price, or for an exam and their choice of three pairs of colored contact
lenses, for just $30 more. There's also a coupon for an eye exam, contact lens fit
and one pair of colored contact lenses at a very low price.
Make the message clear
Once patients arrive at the office, they see many reminders that
we offer colored contact lenses, such as point of purchase displays in the reception
and contact lens dispensing areas. These include posters, brochures and dispensing
mats. And our employees frequently wear color lenses themselves. That helps get
the conversation going. A simple statement, such as, "Make sure you let the doctor
know if you're interested in colored contact lenses," goes a long way towards encouraging
In the exam room, we ask nearly every patient if they are interested
in contact lenses. Many who've never worn lenses or haven't worn them in years simply
need some assurance that contact lens technology has improved and that there are
more options now. For example, as more colored toric lenses have become available,
I can recommend them to patients who in the past had to choose between fashion and
By asking patients about their interest in contact lenses in general,
we open the door to a discussion on the variety of lenses that might be appropriate
for them. Usually, we initially fit patients who have never worn contact lenses,
or who need toric lenses, in clear lenses even if they express an interest in color
lenses. After a trial period in clear lenses, we encourage them to come back after
their follow-up contact lens check and make their color selection.
Our practice carries a large stock of contact lenses, including
colored lenses. That's important, especially as we promote the practice as a contact
lens specialty. Patients who are coming in for their first contact lenses, or even
those who are upgrading to a different lens, are excited at that time. If we had
to tell them to return in a week to try on the lenses, they would be disappointed.
Even if we can't fulfill their year's supply order at the time, we can almost always
provide enough lenses from our stock to hold them over until the supply arrives.
It's a tried and true formula
In short, we've found that colored contact lens wearers are really
no different from other contact lens wearers. By taking care of our patients' visual
needs, by attending to their desire for fashion, comfort and a lens that fits into
their lifestyle, we are creating satisfied, loyal patients.
We ask our patients questions about what they need and want in
a contact lens. We listen as they explain what their frustrations are with their
current lenses and recommend lenses that might be better. We let patients know it's
all right to have "fun" with their contact lenses as long as they adhere to our
wear, cleaning and replacement instructions.
When our patients walk out of our office wearing their colored
contact lenses, they feel great about the way they look. They're happy and we're
happy that they have affirmed our position as a specialty contact lens practice,
for which we have been financially rewarded.
Dr. Elisabeth Harrington practices in the office
of Dr. Richard Presley and Associates.
Former optician Bonnie Presley
was persuasive in helping Dr. Harrington's patients select colored contact lenses.
Now the mother of a new baby, Ms. Presley shares some strategies for promoting colored
WEAR THE LENSES.
"I wore the Caribbean Aqua FreshLook Dimensions lenses to enhance my light eyes
and patients frequently commented on them," Bonnie says. For the squeamish, she'd
even remove and insert her lenses so they could see the effect of the color lens.
"Most patients who come in, especially first-time contact lens wearers, want to
change their look. So it's natural to mention the availability of colored lenses,"
"If it doesn't look good, I'll tell them. If it does look good, I'll suggest they
also ask a friend in the reception area or the patient sitting next to them for
their opinions as well."
TIP THE TECHS.
"If you want to increase sales, nothing works like financial incentive. We rewarded
opticians and techs with $3 for every patient fit in contact lenses and $3 for every
colored lens upgrade. So fitting a new patient in colored lenses could mean a $6
Optometric Management, Issue: September 2005