Adopt a consumer-oriented approach to improve multi-pair dispensing

March 15, 2012

When your patients leave your exam room, they become consumers. To get them into your dispensary, you must develop a solid understanding of consumer behavior, according to Donald Teig, OD, FAAO, and Robert A. Davis, OD.

When your patients leave your exam room, they become consumers. To get them into your dispensary, you must develop a solid understanding of consumer behavior, according to Donald Teig, OD, FAAO, and Robert A. Davis, OD.

Once in the dispensary, you and your staff must educate patients on the benefits of having multiple pairs of glasses. Before they will pay for a second pair, consumers must perceive the benefits of having different glasses for different uses-as a backup, as a convenience, or as a fashion accessory. You must make specific recommendations, and opticians must show them appropriate products.

Start in the waiting room

You can generate product awareness, a component of creating a need in the patient’s mind for a new pair-or two-of glasses, in the reception area and not just the exam room, said Dr. Davis, a private practitioner in Pembroke Pines, FL. Product brochures placed throughout the office can help generate product awareness, said Dr. Teig, a private practitioner in Ridgefield, CT.

“Market to patients to show them why they shouldn’t be taking their prescription out of your office. Tell them what you do,” he said. That includes touting features such as product quality and value, staff expertise, frame selection, the convenience of one-stop shopping, and the warranty.

You can also show educational videos in the waiting area and reach out to patients through Facebook and other forms of social media.

Involve your patients

In the office, an effective way of learning more about your patients is to have them complete a simple form about their eyeglass needs. If a patient checks a box indicating problems with nighttime glare, close-up vision, or bright sunlight, you can immediately recommend lenses that will solve that issue, or recommend lenses suitable for one’s professional or personal activities, such as golfing or office work.

Your discussions with patients about lenses, coatings, and frames are never far removed from the clinical aspects of the practice. “Use a medical model to recommend eyewear,” said Dr. Davis. “What you’re doing in the exam room is using your medical information to prescribe eyewear.”

Keep brochures in the exam rooms, too, and hand the appropriate one to the patient rather than waiting for the patient to pick it up.

How you say it

Be conscious of how you speak to patients. Be specific and clear when you recommend products, and don’t reel off a list of options.

“Patients come to you because they respect you, and they want your knowledge, skill and expertise. It’s up to you to recommend what’s best for them,” Dr. Davis said. He added that you sometimes need to recommend more than one item to fully accommodate the patient’s needs.

Similarly, don’t just “suggest” a product. Be more emphatic by stating that you recommend or prescribe a product or procedure. Finally, don’t use the word “but,” as in saying that you recommend a particular lens coating, “but” it’s expensive. The patient is likely to forget everything you said before the “but,” and you won’t make the sale. Be passionate and enthusiastic, Dr. Teig said. “Excitement spills over,” he added.

Simple steps

One simple step that may clinch a sale is for you to walk the patient to the optician at the end of the exam. Dr. Teig’s policy is to escort the patient to the boutique, introduce him or her to the optician, and go over his recommendations. The optician then reiterates the information after the doctor leaves. This repetition reinforces the recommendations.

In a busy practice, you may not have time to personally handoff every patient. You can designate a staff member to escort patients to the optical, or generate a routing slip that notes the your recommendations.

Reduce the patients’ risks further by offering strategies such as a 30-day trial period with a money-back guarantee, financing, or a significant price break on the second pair. Said Dr. Davis, “You’re taking the risk out of the purchase, so why wouldn’t they try it?”

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Teig is a spokesman for Bausch + Lomb and SynergEyes. Dr. Davis is a professional affairs consultant for Vistakon and serves on Essilor’s advisory board and Alcon’s speakers’ panel.

For more articles in this issue of InDispensable, click here.