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The start of the new year is a good time to review policies and procedures in the office - improving efficiency of operations and tightening up expenses. One key area that could be costing more than you realize is remaking lenses and replacing frames under warranty. A colleague wrote me about this recently - and it was timely because I was reviewing our warranty policies in my office.
First, I would investigate how many warranty remakes you do in an average month. Consider the cost of these remakes in materials and staff time. Be sure to confirm that you are truly getting the full credit you think you are from manufacturers and labs that extend frame warranty or scratch resistant coatings. Is your staff really returning the damaged items? Do the credits really come through for the correct amount? Do some digging and be sure.
It is interesting to note the reason for remakes or re-dos - and it may be valuable to track the remakes by category in the future for staff training purposes and to foster intelligent policy making. I have identified 8 reasons for remakes: Scratch warranty, frame warranty, Anti-reflective coat warranty, progressive lens non-adapt, doctor error, technician error, patient satisfaction and lab quality.
I think offering a warranty on eyeglasses can be a big practice builder. I like them because it removes any fault from the equation - which is often hard to determine. Placing blame on the patient, the doctor, the tech, the lab is often counterproductive and stressful. Things will go wrong and damage will occur with glasses, and they are very expensive to replace. Structuring your practice to be consumer friendly and easy to deal with from the patient's point of view will build repeat business and referrals very quickly. This must be balanced with being sure your product pricing and cost of goods allows a healthy profit, even after the remakes. Here are few points to consider as you build your policy:
You could sell an optional warranty as a separate entity - or build the cost into your mark-up on frames and lenses.
The warranty provided by frame companies and labs is to your practice, not to the patient. It is up to you to set time periods and to design how the warranty works. Even if a frame is warranted for 3 years by the manufacturer - you may limit your warranty to 1 year if you wish. We do want the patient to buy a new frame, sooner rather than later.
You could limit the number of times a warranty may be used - i.e. only one replacement due to scratches per year.
An A/R coating may void the scratch warranty on the lens beneath the coating if you wish. You may not be able to get credit on returning a lens for scratches after it has A/R. You can solve most scratch problems by stripping and recoating, which is generally covered by the lab.
I prefer to publicize and market the warranty - bragging about it rather than leaving it a secret to patients. Warranties can differentiate your dispensary over others in your market - or it can at least keep you on par with what others are doing.
I would not charge a shipping and handling fee to patients who use warranties - but I would build these costs into my pricing and make them invisible. Sometimes small charges are perceived as an annoyance and may spoil a good experience.
Decide if sunglass clips and non-Rx sunglasses are covered by any warranty.
I would develop a printed form that indicates the details and coverage of your eyeglass warranty and present a printed copy to the patient at the time glasses are ordered.
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.