Setting prices that reflect value

May 1, 2010

It's virtually impossible for optometry practices that support one or two doctors to compete with national chains when it comes to pricing or fees.

It's virtually impossible for optometry practices that support one or two doctors to compete with national chains when it comes to pricing or fees. Their pockets simply aren't deep enough. That's why it's especially important for them to incorporate fee positioning into their strategic plan.

"There's a finite list of things your practice can be," said Dr. Wright, also president of Pathways to Success, an Internet-based practice management consulting firm. "The idea is to have higher fees or higher volume or combination of both."

Stand and deliver

One way to boost a practice's bottom line is to train staff in three different approaches.

First is the Dale Carnegie method, a venerable technique that positions staff as experts so that patients will trust their advice and comply. The second and most popular approach is consultative selling, where staff asks patients about their lifestyle, then makes product recommendations based on patients' needs. Facilitative selling is the last method. It operates on the premise that customers don't make financial decisions independently. So staff invites a patient's spouse, for example, into conversations during the buying process.

While optometry staff tends to be very good at consultative selling, Dr. Wright believes they must excel in all three approaches in order to persuade patients to accept the practice's fee.

"If you've only done consultative selling, you're missing the other two sides," he said. "That can create difficulties because your patients haven't bought into the whole concept of what you're trying to accomplish for them."