Optometrists generally realize that prescribing and dispensing two or more pairs of glasses for a patient is good for vision care and for practice profitability. But, most ODs don’t do anything to try to increase the multiple pair sales rate. With the prevalence of vision plans taking a big bite out of the profit on the first pair of glasses, selling a second pair at the same visit can restore a great deal of total profit.
In this article, I’ll show you a multi-level strategy that is easy to implement and will result in a much higher number of multiple pair eyeglass sales.
In order to determine if our new approach to multiple pair sales is working, you must measure your current level of those sales and remeasure after implementation. Unfortunately, second and third pairs of glasses can be difficult to track with most office practice management software systems (PMS). Work with your staff and review your record of lab orders to see if you can obtain a basic count of the total number of eyeglasses (complete pairs) ordered per month and also how many of those were a multiple pair. If you have a special multiple pair discount, your PMS may be able to track that number. If you sold 100 complete pairs of glasses last month and 10 of those were an additional pair sold at the same visit, then your multiple pair rate is 10%.
We don’t have a lot of data on national norms for multiple pair sales, but 10 to 20% is the typical range that I see.
Four steps to multiple pair sales
There are four important tools that can combine to help your practice achieve a very high rate of multiple pair sales.
Doctor prescribes additional pairs of glasses. The power of the doctor has a big impact on multiple pair dispensing. As part of the treatment plan, which should be presented to the patient at the exam chair, the doctor should recommend and design multiple eyeglass prescriptions. This takes into account the vision problems, chief complaints and patient’s lifestyle. Advise your patients that one pair of glasses can’t meet all of their vision care needs. Talk about sunglasses, glasses for computer screens, occupational needs and hobbies. It is helpful for the doctor to write out separate Rx forms for each pair of glasses to give to the optician.
Opticians sell by asking questions. The optician plays a major role in selling a second pair of glasses and one strong technique is to understand the patient’s lifestyle needs. Asking about the patient’s occupational and avocational interests paves the way for multiple pairs of glasses. Informing the patient about any discounts on the second pair is a great way to bring up the concept.
Give the patient a large discount on additional pairs. My practice has found big success in offering a substantial discount to patients on multiple pairs of glasses purchased at the same time. We offer 50% off the usual price for additional pairs of glasses. It is important to realize that we gain many efficiencies when we measure, order, process, communicate and deliver multiple pairs of glasses to one patient. This is how we justify the large discount.
All glasses must be complete pairs (frame and lenses).
The discount is given on the less expensive pairs.
The first pair may be ordered through a vision plan.
This discount works well if there is already a strong mark-up built into the regular pricing. There should be plenty of profit in the additional pairs even after the discount.
Many wholesale labs offer 50% off the lenses on multiple pairs. Be sure to use this.
Pay staff a bonus for selling multiple pairs. Many staff bonus programs sound good logically, but fail to actually change behavior in the desired way. I find the most effective incentives for staff are when there is a high degree of correlation between the reward and the desired behavior. That occurs when a person who sells eyewear is directly spiffed each time he or she sells a second pair. Strong individual effort earns the most rewards and is not influenced by co-workers. The bonus can be a percentage or dollar amount (we have found $10 per additional pair works well). Our staff tracks their own multiple sales on index cards by listing the patient name and date, which can be spot checked for accuracy.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.