By Troy Humphreys, OD, FAAO
August 24, 2016
Turning the prescriptions you write in the exam room into eyewear sales in your optical is a key to building a profitable practice. According to the Management and Business Academy, up to 60 percent of an average practice’s revenues stem from optical sales, so working to improve your eyewear capture rate is essential to profitability.
My practice is currently in a push to drive our capture rate up. Our current capture rate is 50.2 percent. By this time next year, we would like to see it climb at least 10 points to 60 percent. We calculate capture rate by dividing the number of lens pairs sold by the number of refractions.
Over the past few years, my practice has not done enough to positively effect our capture rate, and we’re not alone. Many other practices also have dragged their heels in working to improve their eyewear capture rate. We all need to create effective strategies (prescribing from the chair, asking why not) to turn the tide and allow independent offices to increase capture rate. We cannot afford to continually lose capture in our optical, as this is a critical component to enhanced patient and business care.
Ask Vendors for Guidance in Selling
We work closely with our vendor partners to have our opticians trained often on all new products available. Our quarterly training meetings will then give us time to understand these new products together and how to recommend them to patients.
We need to prescribe from the chair more, which we are in the process of improving through these training sessions each quarter.
Five Steps to a Better Capture Rate
1) Total team education that capture rate = practice success.
2) Education that premium products produce better outcomes and higher profits.
3) Follow-through on OD Rx, with use of scribes and strong hand-offs.
4) Rx specific optical solutions.
5) Prepare response to patients who walk their Rxes: We have value packages, and we stand behind our products.
Ask Opticians to Educate ODs
We are beginning a quarterly educational session run by our opticians for all of our doctors. We plan to educate all six of our doctors on all lens products we utilize, creating “customized lens options” that the doctor can recommend from the chair. We feel one of the biggest ways to improve our capture rate is to have our complete team speaking the same language regarding the optical products available to our patients.
Ask Patients Directly Why Not Buy from You
If a patient says they want their prescription to shop elsewhere, we ask a direct question: “May I ask why?” If the patient responds that they want affordable eyewear, we educate them that we have “value package” eyewear that is available at high value, with a one-year warranty, and all of our service and quality that we stand behind. Opening this dialog often helps our patients understand that they can find what they are looking for in our optical.
When our patients enter our optical, we must think of them as consumers. They have been bombarded with marketing that makes them believe there are amazing deals on equal products outside of our practices (e.g., “Two pairs for $99,” and “$50 off progressive lenses”). We need to educate the consumer about our differences and show them that the quality and service we offer yields high value.
Incentivize Entire Staff to Boost Capture Rate
It’s fine for OD-owners to attempt to increase capture rate–but what motivates staff to get behind that? The answer: Educating them that capture rate is the lifeblood of practice finances, and that they play a key role in practice survival.
We play the Great Game of Business in our practice, in which the whole staff is made aware of our financial performance and responsible for helping to track our numbers, so team members know that with increased capture rate comes increased net for our practice, which, in turn, improves the likelihood of bonuses. —Troy Humphreys, OD
Editor’s note: Click HERE to watch three ROB videos on how Aaron Lech, OD, motivates staff by keeping them up-to-date on practice financial performance.
Get Help from Your Team in the Exam Room
We have clinical scribes with us during the eye health portion of our examination, as well as during the case presentation. We discuss what is recommended with the clinical technician, who then escorts the patient to our optical. The baton pass to the optician is critical, and during productive times, often does not happen well. We would like the clinic scribe to represent the recommendations of the doctor while they introduce the patient to an optician. I wish I could say this happens 100 percent of the time, but it doesn’t. This is an area where we need to create a non-negotiable standard to properly hand-off patients from doctor to optician to improve capture rate.
We are educating our doctors to efficiently prescribe from the chair, explaining the tangible benefits of the lens options we offer. This will allow opticians to have a much easier transition into the optical.
Leave Time for Optical Shopping
We try to be done with examinations within 45 minutes from the start of the patient’s appointment time, so the patient feels they have ample time to shop for eyewear. This is often not attained, and patients will often leave the office because “they don’t have time right now.” We feel that as we create quarterly education between opticians and doctors, that the efficiency in both our optical and clinic will improve to help this situation.
We utilize a light dilation (phenylephrine) for most patients after our technician performs all entrance skills, including pupils. In this manner, our patients are already “pre-dilated” before our doctors see them.
In addition, we are working on delivering an electronic, more streamlined check-in process, and we are creating an area with nice wood trays on which patients can browse frames before their appointments. In this way, they have already started the “fun” frame selection process prior to our examination, which will further set the stage for new eyewear purchases.