Independent ECPs, including independent ODs, get a sizable chunk of consumer frame purchases, but there is room for improvement. Some 43.5 percent of consumers purchased frames from an independent optical shop, according to 2012 U.S. Optical Retailer Report & Directory from Jobson Optical Research and The Vision Council VisionWatch. Some 27.5 percent of consumers purchased frames from a chain such as LensCrafters or Pearle Vision while 17 percent purchased from a mass merchandiser like Wal*Mart or Target. Some 6.8 percent purchased from “other” unidentified sources and 5.2 percent purchased their frames from a department store like JC Penney or Sears.
Here are three questions to ask about your practice as it relates to frame sales.
1) What percentage of your patients with third-party coverage for a new frame are getting a new frame? Anything less than 90 percent is unacceptable. It really should be 100 percent, but we need to leave a little room for people who have extenuating circumstances. If your percentage is less than 90 percent, then there is a problem somewhere in the exam room or in the optical. Find this problem and fix it.
2) What message are you giving patients when they walk into your optical? The first thought to have in this area is: Do you have a message you want to communicate? And the second thought is: How well are you communicating your message? If you don’t have a message, then patients will create their own. Do you have patients who say, “You are too expensive?” Create a message that answers this before patients come to their own conclusions. Do you hear patients say “I don’t see what I want in your optical.” Create a message that answers this before it is stated. Your message can be placed on signs, on computer screens, in the verbiage used by staff … be creative.
3) How well are your frames merchandised? In most practices, this is an area that needs great attention. Ask your frame sales representatives for help. Go to high-end stores like Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue and see what they have spent large amounts of money to have designed for their merchandising. Pick up a merchandising textbook and study. Hire a consultant to help you. The bottom line is to do something to make this important part of your practice better.
Your action plan for this week is to address these three questions in your practice. Do this successfully and both your patients and your practice will benefit.