How to increase optical sales: Tips and advice for opticians
You should be proud of your eyewear capture rate. You're probably doing things right if at least half of your eye exams result in purchases. But the question is, could you be doing more?
Increasing optical sales is an easy goal to write down. However, achieving it takes dedication to trying out new things, building an effective strategy, and getting your whole team on board and engaged. Turning more patients into optical customers will take more than hoping for the best after an exam. There’s plenty you can do to improve your capture rate and increase sales from prospective eyewear customers of all kinds.
Let's take a look at some of the ways you can start dispensing more eyewear at your optical:
Offer promotions and discount packages
Everyone loves a good deal. Promotions such as discounts on independent eyewear or cash back for second-pair purchases can help your optical compete with corporate forces trying to steal away patients from independent ECPs. There are all sorts of promotional deals you can offer such as:
- BOGO offers or package-deal discounts.
- Refer-a-friend deals.
- Reduced-price promotions.
Of course, offering discounts can come with a significant setback as well: Shrinking margins. That's why we suggest expanding your inventory to include eyewear eligible for Anagram Prosper. We've negotiated pricing agreements with eyewear vendors that allow you to pass savings on to patients without affecting your margins. That makes it a whole lot easier to offer discounts.
Making a successful optical promotion
You can use promotions on a case-by-case basis depending on unique circumstances. However, you should also offer discounts to bring in new business and bring back returning patients to pick up new frames or lenses.
Luckily, this offers you opportunities to be creative and find fun ways to bring in new and existing patients and customers. Here are some ideas you can build off:
Multiple pair promotion
You can keep it simple and promote a buy one, get one half off sale. Or something similar for multiple-pair deals. A simple percentage off a second frame may be enough to convince a patient to buy a backup pair or pick up glasses for a family member.
Multiple-pair promotions are also another opportunity to use Prosper to help in-network patients purchase second pairs. Vision plans typically only reimburse purchases from the lens or frame lines they own or have agreements with. They don't want patients to have choice unless the choice puts money in their the plan's pockets.
So, imagine this: The patient can purchase one pair of glasses in network. Then, if they need a back up pair, you can offer them independent frames and lenswear that's discounted through Prosper. They get instantly reimbursed on a second pair their vision plan wouldn't otherwise cover and you've improved their quality of life through better reading or task glasses, or a gift for a family member.
Discontinued frame discounts
Soon-to-be discontinued frames to get rid of? Try selling them at a discount. Or package them in deals with newer frames. This is a great way to move discontinued frames and open room in your inventory for new lines.
If, for whatever reason, you're unable to move older glasses you can still do something with them! Many non-profit organizations will take gently use eyewear donations. You can learn more about donating old glasses here.
Holidays or local events are always a great reason to promote discounted frames and lenses. Offering a deal on frames for the holidays is a simple way to dip your toes into special deals.
Retail optical sales training and practice
Your sales start with your staff. How’s your team connecting with patients and how are they using that connection to help you increase your eyewear capture rate?
These interactions don’t come naturally to everyone, but anyone can put in the practice and improve their optical sales talent. Train scripts, techniques and specific objections or questions regularly. This helps ensure everyone’s focused on frame or lens sales at the appropriate time in patient interactions and that they're well equipped to respond to objections.
You can start with your scripts. Review existing scripts or patient interactions. Can you add anything to the script flow to remind patients of your frames? Maybe they have a soon-to-expire benefit that will reimburse them on new frames. Or perhaps you have a new frame line you can show them. Have your team role play these interactions so that they’re always comfortable helping your patients find the right frames or lenses.
Don’t forget to have your staff regularly review updates on frame lines, engage with frame reps and learn all the latest on the materials in your inventory—and even materials you don’t carry! In-depth product knowledge can go a long way in showing patients your optical’s professionalism and trustworthiness. -
Rearrange your frame displays or floor plan
Are you differentiating your highest margin products from the others? How are you organizing your displays and frame boards? What’s the experience like for somebody browsing your optical shop?
Your merchandising can have a substantial impact on your optical sales. Unique optical displays that adhere to certain retail merchandising principles can help you drive engagement with those displays and, ultimately, move more product. Here are some things to experiment with in order to create a more appealing space and more intriguing displays:
- Your Showroom Lighting: Lighting is extremely important and you want plenty of it. But make sure you’re able to balance lighting with shadows correctly to create contrasts that highlight your best products.
- Your Floor Layout: Most people who enter your showroom will follow a similar path as they browse your displays. The route will largely depend on how you organize the merchandise and furniture in your showroom
- Your Frame Boards: How can you arrange your frame boards to ensure frames stand out? A flat frame board will hurt your ability to sell the merchandise featured there. Use lighting and unique organization to create contrast and differentiate frames.
Your Display Cases: A theme that ties everything in the showroom together is important. But don’t forget to find unique ways to differentiate each of your frame lines. Find displays that bring out the best in each line!
Retail merchandising principles such as those listed above will help you ensure the people in your optical showroom enjoy their shopping experience and that more of them walk out as customers.
If you have the right optical marketing plan, then more sales should follow. However, it’s important to avoid ineffective marketing pitfalls or mistakes that diminish returns.
Out-of-network providers probably already have some familiarity with marketing—it’s one of your best ways to acquire patients and boost optical sales without a vision plan. And they're really getting a bang for their buck. When you factor in the inherent cost of vision plans (agreeing to lower fee schedules and slow reimbursements in return for patients) marketing may actually be the more affordable route.
"Think about it: If you’re in-network, then you’re contracted to accept a certain amount—often less than your customary fee." Nicolas Gilberg, OD, the owner of Dr. Gilberg & Associates and a consultant with the Nealberg Consulting Group, wrote in Review of Optometric Business. "Let’s say you usually charge $100 for a routine exam, but a vision-plan referred patient generates a contracted amount of $50. You essentially paid a vision plan $50 for a new patient. Wouldn’t it be better to pay Google $20 to acquire an out-of-network patient and net $80 in profit?"
Luckily, anyone can put together a simple but effective marketing campaign. Get down the essentials, such as your website, regular social media posting and local listings like your Google My Business profile to make sure you’re findable online. Use these to communicate an effective message to current and prospective patients; one that explains your practice’s unique value proposition.
From there you can find plenty of ways to extend your advertising reach. Further building out local SEO by keeping addresses up to date and engaging with local organizations and media. Advertising in local newspapers and around your community. Using PPC campaigns in order to ensure you’re ranking high for the right keywords. All of these and more will help you build out a better marketing plan that brings more patients through the door. Visit our eye care marketing blog for more on how to do this successfully.
Specialty lens and frame line differentiation
Chances are you're featuring your frame lines in your advertising. And you're right to do so! But both in marketing and in your optical, are you differentiating unique frame lines and specialty lenses? How do you feature your most exclusive or popular eyewear? This is especially relevant if you’re not beholden to vision plans’ preferred frame lines. Unique brands that stand out will help you keep existing patients interested and attract new ones.
Choose and feature frames based on demographics. Who are you serving? If your patients are more conservative, avoid promoting too many jazzy frames. Instead advertise and display lines that are more understated and stylish.
One way to find independent frame lines your patients will thank you for is through Prosper! We're careful about the vendors we choose to work with. We look for eyewear vendors that sell high-quality materials and value independent ECPs. When you expand your optical inventory with Prosper not only will you have the highest quality eyewear, but you'll be able to send patients cash back when they purchase those lenses and frames.
Know your optical inventory
Find effective ways to differentiate among your various lines through your marketing and merchandising. Start by knowing each frame lines’ story. A line of funky, colorful frames is going to have a different story than one featuring minimalist, metallic designs. To ensure each line reaches their sales potential at your optical, you should use those unique characteristics. How can your merchandising have fun with your funky frames or highlight the sleek design of a minimalist line?
These details will help you find out how to best differentiate your lines. Work them into your merchandising and marketing to help connect patients with your various frames’ stories.
Verify benefits to keep patients informed on their eligibility for new frames
Exclusivity is a powerful tool in sales. And an expiring benefit makes for a strong pitch for new frames.
Patients may not keep up with their eligibility. Make sure they're in the loop by verifying benefits before they come in for their appointments and again the day they come in for their exams. By doing so you can help your staff work frame benefits—and especially expiring benefits—into the conversation.
You can even verify out-of-network benefits. Use Anagram in order to check private-pay patients' eligibility for new frames online in just a few clicks. That way your team can seamlessly work frames into the conversation, rather than having to ask patients to check their benefits or spend time on the phone with their vision plans.
Tracking your optical sales
One of the best ways to reach your optical sales potential is to track performance. Keep an eye on gross merchandise value and sales for various frame and lens lines in order to determine how you can optimize your optical sales performance.
As you implement the tips above, experiment based on what the data tells you. Test out new marketing and merchandising ideas and double-down on what works. As you find what works for your practice and optical, and what doesn’t work, you’ll enjoy watching your optical sales increase.