Practice Management

Lowering your prices does not win you more contact lens sales - here's why

Dispelling common misconceptions about why your practice's contact lens capture rate is lower than it could be.
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Published 9.01.2022

You may have heard the maxim, “Price, quality, service: choose 2,” and it generally holds true. It’s impossible to have the best price, best quality, and best service—so you’ll have to sacrifice one of those things to maintain the other two.

But here’s a fact that may surprise you: Focusing on low prices won’t necessarily guarantee increased sales. To explain why, we’ll break down the three categories of the maxim:

Price

By and large, lenses cost less in person than online. An online purchase often involves numerous unanticipated fees; however, when you consider typical vision plan coverage along with the rebate for an annual supply, optometrists’ prices are significantly better than their online competition. In short, most private optometrists are already winning on price.

Quality

Soft contact lenses are a commodity, so the quality is no different between your offerings and those of your competition. Patients get the same product either way.

Service

Every optometrist should win this, hands-down. The patient is already in your office; everything can be completed in one transaction—and you can ship contacts to patients’ homes or dispense same day from stock. That’s a win for optometrists.

If you’re keeping track, optometrist offices win on price and service—and they’re equal on product quality. It almost sounds like you’ve broken the maxim! You’ve done the impossible and won on all three.

We should be winning

So why is the average annual supply rate across the industry around 35%? Why are so many contact lens sales lost to online purchases? Let’s go back and look at the two parts of the maxim you can control: price and service. Remember, you’re already winning on price due to online fees.

Does lowering your prices even more make that much of a difference? Shouldn’t any amount below your competition be reason enough to buy from you? Whether you’re a dollar less or $200 less, they’re coming out ahead.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that lowering your pricing is a silver bullet to growing your sales. Start by addressing your service opportunities, see if some of these common ones are familiar:

Making patients pick up their contact lens order

Unlike glasses that require adjustment, contact lenses are ready out of the box—so there’s no reason to make people come back for them. Either direct-ship them to patients’ homes or stock them so patients can walk out the door with them.

Giving a poor sales presentation

Good presentations are typically visually appealing,delivered quickly, consistently, and with style. Your team should be efficient, engaging, and straightforward while also inspiring confidence in their expertise. Using a pen and paper can make your practice seem dated and negatively impact your patients’ trust in your offerings.

Having poor staff-to-patient communication

Communication is truly key. If it’s too much or too little talking during the presentation, patients will walk out the door. All sales presentations should include pricing, options, and a clear value proposition which provides your patients with agency. If you’re missing any of these elements, your patients may not have the confidence to buy from you. Worse, they may just leave and never give you a chance to earn their business again.

Confusing your patients

Are your sales promotions riddled with “if, then” statements? Does your patient struggle to identify their expected out of pocket costs? Do you give away cheap sunglasses (or other freebies) with every annual supply purchase? Here’s a tip: Stop doing all of that. They’re not an attractive incentive for patients, and they distract from your real value—good service.

After you’ve corrected a few common mistakes, you should see your sales skyrocket.
After you’ve corrected a few common mistakes, you should see your sales skyrocket.

Ultimately, price isn’t your problem.

It’s your service that needs to be adjusted. If you’re underpriced and more convenient than your competition (which you are), then something else must be driving your patients elsewhere. People are accustomed to paying more for good service; they don’t actually expect to pay less for convenience.

When it comes to your contact lens business, think about the overall process that you expect your patient to navigate. Best case scenario, your team is full of extremely talented, clear, and consistent salespeople. You’ve made it extremely convenient to communicate with your office. Your practice policies are patient centric, and always result in complete patient satisfaction.

In contrast to the best case scenario outlined above, is it possible that your sales presentations are confusing? Do you make it easy for your patients to communicate with you in the way they’d like? Can your patients reach you outside your normal business hours? Is it possible that your office has policies that drive people away?

Now take off those rose colored glasses for a moment and consider the possible shortcomings of the services you provide. As always, you're not in this alone, there are experts who can help you succeed.

Author
Dr. Ryan Gustus, OD and Founder of Lensquote
Dr. Ryan Gustus is a 2011 graduate of the IU school of optometry and completed a residency in ocular disease at the Fort Wayne VA Hospital in 2012. He is board certified by the American Board of Medical Optometry and has lectured at professional conferences with a focus on paraoptometric education for over 10 years. He is partner in a two-location independent practice and cofounder of LensQuote and Profit Assist. LensQuote is a software platform built for practice owners to drive more in-office contact lens sales, Profit Assist is a consultant service that helps practice owners build a winning contacts lens strategy. Learn more at www.lensquote.com