By Edward Dean Butler
Oct. 20, 2021
Optical sales are essential to the profitability of most practices. Here is what I learned as founder of LensCrafters, and in my other optical business endeavors, about building and maintaining a high level of eyewear sales. If you do these things, you will double sales within one year.
The first step is realizing you are a retailer (with an important healthcare component). Make your office look like an attractive retailer by doing these things:
1. Copy a Retail Look You Like
Warby Parker and several other retailers do this well. They use warm, inviting, relaxing colors, not the bright white/green or white/shades of blue that so many practices mistakenly use. Look at the top national-brand stores in the best shopping center in your area. You will walk away with many free ideas. You will not need to hire a designer. Do it yourself.
2. Do NOT Look Medical — a Turn Off for Most Consumers
Whatever you do, do not display fundus photographs and the like, other than, perhaps, in the pre-testing and exam rooms. Do not have medical videos running constantly in your reception area. It primes patients (your customers) to think of their time in your office solely as a medical visit, rather than as a medical visit that comes with a fun retail shopping experience.
3. Treat Clients as Customers, Not Patients
Call them customers. Do this religiously. No white jackets in the retail area. Your customers are usually not sick. Do not treat them as though they are sick. Calling clients “customers” will change the way your staff members treat them — for the better.
4. Stock Best Sellers Only
Find out what is already a best seller and put only these frames on display. Demand sales statistics from your vendors. Do not be a guinea pig by stocking the latest styles until the vendor proves they are top sellers. This step will eliminate 80 percent of what you currently have on display. So, don’t be afraid to have many of the very best sellers on display — in multiple colors.
5. Lighting Should Be 2700 Kelvin
The lighting in your optical shop absolutely should not be bright white or “daylight,” which washes out warm, attractive colors. And whatever you do, do not back-light frames, as so many do. This is horrible — it washes out the frames, making them look unattractive.
6. Make Your Frame Styles the Heroes of Your Business
In your marketing on social media and other mediums, use photos of people wearing best-selling frames with close-ups of their faces, rather than full-length shots. You want to keep people’s attention on the frame the person is wearing rather than on the rest of their outfit or body.
7. All Staff Should Wear Top Sellers, Even If the Lenses are Plano
You will sell what your staff is wearing. This is a big deal and it works. Your smarter vendors will give you frames for this. If they balk, change vendors. Change the staff’s frames every six months or so. It blows my mind to see optical staff not wearing the glasses the practice sells.
8. Greet Customers Warmly Within 30 Seconds After they Enter the Office/Optical Store
This alone hugely increases sales. It makes people feel truly welcome. Train staff to say something like, “Welcome to Dean’s Optical Shop.” Then book them in (if they came for an eye exam) and say something like, “Have fun looking around, and let me know if I can help in any way.” In a retail environment, such as in a shopping center, this alone will nearly double sales.
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9. Send (via e-mail and/or snail-mail) a Promotional Offer at Least Every Six Months
The peak time for positive customer response to a promotional offer is about six months after a purchase. Send a simple message saying, “We have new eyewear collections we think you will love.” Offer a modest value deal as an incentive. Whatever you do, do not wait until it is time for a “recall letter.” And if you do send out recall letters, do not write a message like this that excludes a shopping teaser: “Do you know your eyes are important?” Or: “Did you know there are eye diseases you will not realize you have without an eye exam?” Those messages are important to a patient’s eye health, but do nothing to also remind them of the fun they will have in your office shopping for new glasses and sunwear.
10. Hire a GREAT sales person to head the retail operation
This is the single most important thing you must do to maximize your business. It is a fact that you can teach optics to a great natural sales person, but you cannot teach sales to most dispensing opticians. Bring the experienced dispenser into the picture as needed, but definitely not to handle the all of the most important sales functions. Where do you find great sales people? In other shops you frequent. Most of the best sales people I have been privileged to work with are people I stumbled across in a retail store outside the optical world.
Edward Dean Butler was a marketing executive at Procter & Gamble for 14 years before helping a colleague found what is now Vision Works. He then founded LensCrafters, with the famous “glasses in about an hour” slogan. After five years at LensCrafters Mr. Butler left to found Vision Express in the UK and Australia. Today he serves on several Boards of Directors, including Neurolenses in the USA and Eyoto (ophthalmic instruments) in the UK. To contact him: email@example.com
*Photo credit, top of page: Getty Images.