Practice Management

Reframing your dispensary Part 3 | learning from retail and merchandising to your audience

Opticians Create Value. Pause. One more time: Opticians. Create. Value.
Published 3.21.2024

Your patients may have a frame in mind when they call or visit your office (e.g. “Do you carry Ray Ban?” or “Do you have Oakleys?”) but that doesn’t mean that’s the frame they’ll end up with when they leave. There are dozens of reasons patients come in with one particular thing in mind, and dozens more for them to leave with something else.

The knowledge that you have should make you the expert in your patients’ eyes. Pun intended. By educating the patient about your frames, you can make previously unknown frames into your best sellers. Think about your patients today. Uniqueness comes at a premium. Everyone wants to be, and do, their own thing, even if that vaguely approximates someone else’s thing.

Remember, there was a time that every major brand that existed was an unknown quantity. If there’s a great product out there and strong experts and passionate advocates educating about it, that will create a known brand in time.

It is important to have collections that patients recognize. It may be more important to have collections that the patient has never heard of before and has a chance to fall in love with. Give them something they can only get at your office, make sure they know why what you carry is special, and watch your patient loyalty blossom.


The collections you carry must serve a particular purpose. Some lines are worth carrying because patients will call and ask for them by name. Others are a worthwhile investment because they offer technology that patients cannot get elsewhere; still others make sense in the practice because they’re a high fashion collection that will drive customers through your doors.

What is to be avoided is carrying a number of collections that serve the same purpose for the same patient at the same price point and eliminate those collections that compete with one another.

Look at your inventory and consider which frame lines appeal to which customers. Think in demographic terms:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Frame Specialty (e.g. titanium, memory metal, light weight, durability, etc.)
  • Size/Style
  • Price Point

If your inventory consists of multiple lines that appeal to the same patient, find your most successful collection among them and eliminate the others. When those competing collections perform similarly, identify your staff’s favorite and eliminate the others. Remember, you will sell the inventory that you have – if your dispensary has a few pieces of many collections, it will be harder to determine your best selling frames.

Buyer’s Remorse

From your patient’s perspective, having many collections that serve effectively the same purpose leads to more difficult decisions. Think about how many times you have had patients sitting with your opticians pouring over three frames that are of similar styles and price points, all of which look pretty great on the patient. Not only does this process frustrate both the patient and the optician, but it also opens the door to an unsatisfied customer.

In the dispensary, we often have patients who return after making a decision they regret. Frequently, this is because they didn’t have enough information to make a decision they could be satisfied with, but made one anyway. The opticians couldn’t really help make the decision for the patient because all the frames looked equally good, cost about the same thing, and were made of the same materials.

This happens every day, in every practice, all over America. We avoid this by structuring the choices our patients can make in a more definitive way. Each collection that appeals to a single demographic of patients should have differentiators and varied price points. In other words, a 35 year old woman looking for a plastic frame at around $200 should not have three different collections to peruse at your office. That is not variety. That is confusion.

Wrapping Up

We will continue our exploration of simplifying your dispensary, streamlining your processes, and improving capture rate next time on Spyglass. Tune in for Reframing your Dispensary Part 4, coming soon!

Steve Alexander
Steve Alexander, Head of Growth
Steve Alexander has been in the eye care industry for over 20 years and has worn many hats including optician, ophthalmic tech, lab tech, practice manager, regional manager, operations consultant, CE certified speaker and other in both private and corporate eye care settings. Over the last 8 years, he has been consulting with practices to find ways to better understand their patients, the ecosystems in which they work, and how to create a practice of which they can be proud. For the last two years, Steve has been Head of Marketing and Partnerships at Anagram, an industry leading tech platform driving change in Eye care with the explicit focus of increasing price transparency, private pay business, and improving the lives of patients and the people who serve them.

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