AN OPTICAL and the way it’s merchandised, the style of décor, the number of frames and the optical’s overall ambiance are characteristics that have been touched upon in a variety of ways in this column and many others over the course of Optometric Management’s history. Certainly, it’s always valuable to have such a wide array of tips and strategies available to your practice.
But this month, let’s touch upon what a practice should, perhaps, not do in its optical for the betterment of sales.
TOO MUCH PRODUCT/CLUTTER
Take a look around your optical. Are there clearly defined collections or areas of frames? Would you easily be drawn in to looking at any of your merchandise, or is it confusing — even, perchance, overwhelming, to know where to start? In my passive aggressive Midwest location, this confusion would result in the patient sitting and not browsing. More is not more. Selectively pare down and reconfigure your space to welcome and invite perusing.
TOO MANY LOW-COST OPTIONS
Regarding the style and quality of the frames in the optical, I, too, was guilty of hearing my patients clamor, “Your frames are so expensive!” and dash to get something more cost effective to have in my optical. In those early days of my practice, I would have benefited from pausing to listen to that phrase instead of just reacting.
I eventually realized that comment did not mean, “I will not buy your frames.” I found that expanding my cost-effective frame selection just degraded my quality of frames and gave me less profitable sales. What I realized was that patients sometimes just want the option of lesser price. . . and will then turn to buy the moderate-to-higher-priced frame.
As my staff and I often quip, “Patients want what they want.” Don’t bring down your optical’s quality of frames by having too many low-cost options.
I’ve learned much about business (and still have more to learn), but treating your optical as a separate business is some of the most sage advice I’ve received. Jay Binkowitz (see “By the Numbers” columns available at optometric.com ) brought this concept to light for me, and since I’ve started looking more closely at optical as its own profit center, instead of part of the larger whole of my practice, I’ve been able to make sound decisions regarding frame purchases, pricing, lenses and labs all in the interest of boosting profits.
If you are not evaluating your optical’s profitability as a standalone, start doing so. What you find will only strengthen your decision-making processes.
ON TO 2017
As we hasten into the new year, remember to concentrate on all the good things you should do for your optical. But, don’t forget there are a few aspects that may need abandoning or revising. Change is good when made for the correct reasons, even if that change is a stop. Here’s to revisions in 2017. OM