By Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO
May 20, 2015
Increase your capture rate by staffing your practice with ABO-certified opticians. Investing in staff expertise pays off.
EDUCATE OPTICIANS. ABO-certified opticians are taught about the anatomy of the eye, optics and the effect of pantoscopic tilt or base curves on their vision.
AVOID COSTLY RE-DOS. Opticians who understand the science behind vision and its interaction with eyewear can reduce re-dos.
SHOW OFF STAFF CREDENTIALS. Post ABO certificates on the wall, and explain to patients how well qualified your opticians are to serve them.
Today, the competition isjust a smartphone screen away, so it’s easier than ever for patients to take their prescription and walk. Your best bet against this happening is tostaff your optical with skilled, engaged opticians. American Board of Opticianry Certified (ABOC) opticians have the know-how to educate and work with patients, so they want to buy from you instead of a competitor.
ABO-certified opticians understand more about the anatomy of the eye, optics and the effect of pantoscopic tilt or base curves on vision. This knowledge enables them to better work with doctors to prepare eyewear for dispensing, and to avoid costly re-dos.
ABOC certification does not teach “sales” per se, but does provide opticians with knowledge that is important to supporting sales and practice growth, such as:
• Understanding visual needs for lifestyle and occupational activities
• Recognizing specific product applicability with respect to patients’ needs and wants
• Patient interaction
• Ability to apply product knowledge
Room for Improvement
Research shows that independent ODs are leaders in conducting eye exams, but fall far short in the “capture rate,” or number of Rxes that are turned into finished eyewear dispensed at the practice. Independents conduct 44 percent of eye exams, but capture only 32 percent of unit sales of finished eyewear, according to VisionWatch and Jobson estimates. This results in a 73 percent capture rate–meaning that 27 percent of potential eyewear sales are lost to other retailers. Other capture rate estimates are lower: The Management & Business Academy (MBA) puts the capture rate for independents at 61 percent. My own recent experience is that many ECPs’ capture rates hover around the 50-55 percent range, and are “stuck” within a few percentage points plus or minus.
There is clearly an opportunity for improvement. The MBA estimates capture rate at 76 percent for practices in the 75th percentile of performance. For top practices in the MBA database, which includes data from over 1,900 independent practices, the capture rate soars to 109–reflecting multiple-pair sales. Coupled with the median $306 spent per comprehensive eye exam, you clearly can see how improving capture rate can have an enormous positive effect on the financial performance of a practice.
In Increasing Eyewear Capture Rate: A Team Effort, by Chad Waggoner, OD and Kimberly Manthe, ABOC, a practice is depicted that was able to move its capture rate from 45 percent to 58 percent for a revenue increase of almost $110,000. Their goal for 2015 is to increase an additional 5 percent.
Include ABO Certification in Job Listings
According to a survey done by the American Board of Opticianry, 75 percent of eyecare practitioners gave preference in hiring to certified applicants, even though they paid higher beginning salaries to ABOC applicants. That is how much practices believe in the benefit of this certification.
There is clearly a financial benefit to be gained by hiring qualified and knowledgeable optical experts. ABOC is one of the only ways to be sure prospective employees are more qualified professionals.
In the past month I’ve reviewed 20-30 online advertisements for opticians. Under qualifications for the position, almost all included “ABOC preferred.”
Let Patients Know Your Opticians Are Well Prepared
It is essential to understand that the benefit of ABOC is only fully realized when patients are educated about what ABOC means, that they are being taken care of by a competent, educated and certified professional.
Even with all the advantages of ABO certification, this credential won’t mean anything to patients unless you educate them about its value. They don’t know they would receive a higher quality of care and professional service by purchasing their eyewear in an office with an ABOC optician assisting them – until they are told.
An ABO certificate should be proudly displayed in the dispensary, much like the doctors’ diplomas in the exam rooms. However, a certificate on the wall is not enough. The staff, opticians and doctors must communicate and demonstrate their skills and knowledge to their patients every day.
It would be very powerful for prescribing doctors to begin saying to their patients, as they are handing them their new prescription, “We have an excellent board-certified optician(s) in our optical area. I hope you will work with him/her because then I will know you are getting the best optical quality and care in producing this prescription.”
“You can’t buy it; you have to earn it,” is my favorite quote on the abo-ncle.org web site. Certification is a professional distinction. It is reassurance to patients that their eyewear needs will be handled carefully and competently–by an optician who has earned the privilege of serving them.
Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO, is an industry professional with experience from exam room and dispensing table to marketing and national account management. She has an AS in Optometric Technology, a BS in Allied Health Education, and was an Optometric Technology Instructor at St. Petersburg College, Fla. She has worked for SOLA Optical, Carl Zeiss Vision and Essilor, and is currently a consultant and speaker, and Managing Editor for Jobson Medical Information’s Optician’s Handbook. To contact: Mindilewis@sbcglobal.net