We all know that prescribing and ordering multiple pairs of glasses for a patient is not only good for profitability, it is the best eye care. If glasses were completely free, how many would you recommend on average for each patient you see? I’m sure at least two pairs and very likely three or four! So why do most optometric practices wallow away in mediocrity when it comes to multiple pair sales? There are many reasons, but I think the biggest one is that the idea is often not brought up to the patient. Optometrists and opticians don’t think about two pairs of glasses often enough. Let’s look at the reasons for that and devise a plan to overcome it.
The huge impact of multiple pairs
First, let me motivate you to design a plan of attack on this topic. Vision plans have made it more important than ever to sell two or more pairs of glasses to each patient. With profitability reduced and capped on the first pair of glasses, we need to increase sales of second and third pairs. Even if you give the patient an aggressive discount on the second pair, you can easily produce a gross profit of $200 per pair of glasses. If you sell two more per day than you do now, you would generate over $100,000 per year in gross profit (after cost of goods).
The right number of staff
I have often found that hiring another employee boosts practice revenues and one reason for that is that sales go up. Observe your staff in action at several different points per day over the course of a couple of weeks. If the opticians are often busy and there is another patient waiting for them or there is lab work waiting for them, it is very likely they will not take the time to offer the second pair option. It takes a lot of time to select another frame, review the lens options and write up the order.
You may think you are keeping your expenses down by not hiring another staff member, but it may be false economy if you are losing sales because no one has time to sell.
Second pair discount
A strong incentive to the patient makes a huge difference in multiple pair sales. My practice offers 50% off the second complete pair of glasses and we have been doing it for 20 years. If you have fairly strong mark-ups to begin with on optical products, you can still make a very good profit on the second pair. And many wholesale labs will give you 50% off on the lenses of additional pairs for the same patient. It does not matter if the first pair is through a vision plan; we still want to sell the second and third pair.
The discount is an obvious incentive for buying the additional pairs, but it also gives my staff a reason and a duty to bring up the concept of a second pair. If they just bring it up, many patients will order two pairs.
Try a spiff
If you want to gauge the potential of multiple pair sales in your practice, offer your staff a spiff of $5 or $10 for each additional pair of glasses sold. I make these special bonus programs for a limited time and then it ends, like for one quarter. I found a big increase in multiple pair sales when I offered the spiff. I like to change the goal of the bonus program each quarter so the staff does not take it for granted and it stays fresh.
It can be difficult to track second pair sales because our practice management software does not differentiate first pairs or multiple pairs. But your in-office lab orders should be able to gather this data fairly easily. You should track it as a baseline before starting a new program so you can evaluate the success of a spiff, discount or additional staff members. To track the spiff program, I just have opticians and super-techs record their own multiple pair sales on an index card with the date and patient name. We just count them up and multiply by the spiff rate. Keeping one’s own record continues to remind staff about how much they are earning.
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.