By Oliver Lou, OD
Increasing second-pair sales can elevate a break-even dispensary to a major practice profit center. Sales tips: Stock enough inventory to create excitement, and start the second-pair conversation in the exam room.
An optical that sells second pairs of eyewear to as many patients as possible is the ideal because it is the most profitable. But many optical dispensaries are not prepared to make these additional sales. Either they lack the frame board inventory to entice patients and/or their opticians have not been sufficiently trained to encourage purchase of a second pair of eyeglasses.
Capturing second-pair sales requires that you maintain an inventory of frame styles large enough to generate excitement for your patients.
What’s the Benchmark?
A median of 10 percent of patients who purchase eyewear inindependent optometric offices buy more than a single pair during an exam visit, according to Key Metrics: Assessing Optometric Practice Performance from the Management & Business Academy (MBA), sponsored by Alcon and Essilor.
One-third of eyeglass wearers report using more than a single pair of eyeglasses, and most second-pair sales are for prescription sunwear, according to the MBA data base, which is based on data from over 1,700 optometric practices. A reachable goal, the MBA recommends, is increasing second-pair sales to 15 percent of exam visits, which (factoring in second-pair discounts) can increase practice revenues 1-2 percent. —ROB Editors
Invest in at least two frames per style on your board and prepare staff to show off your merchandise and the opportunity for an additional purchase. With wider selection, availability of their favorite style and an optician who can reflexively state the advantages of a second pair, your patients will find buying that second pair an attractive and wise option.
For decades, optical retail chains have spent tens of millions of dollars promoting “two-fers.” Consumers are preconditioned to think of multiple pairs of eyewear from budget eyewear providers. Your opportunity is to leverage consumer perceptions and present a value-based option by offering two pairs of quality eyewear and premium service.
Keep Inventory Full
At our large, upscale optical near Austin, Texas, we have certain frames that we sell over and over. The problem with selling a well-performing frame is that it may take months before that frame is restocked onto your practice’s shelves. Opticians customarily replenish frames when a frame representative makes their routine visit. The frequency of that routine visit may vary from every one to four months. Think of all the times that highly sought-after frame may have sold if you had it on your display versus waiting for it be restocked.
Key Steps to Building Second-Pair Sales
Identify popular frames. Identifying your popular selling frames is as easy as asking your optician, looking up your frame sales through your practice’s electronic health records, or asking your frame representatives.
Stay well-stocked. When having a third-party lab fabricate a patient’s eyeglasses, drop-ship a new frame from the manufacturer to the VSP lab for the patient’s order and keep your popular frame on display at your practice. In other words, don’t deplete your frame selection when you sell a frame.
Stock colors. Buy multiple pairs and multiple colors of your popular frames. For a really popular frame, having three or four frames is even better than having two or one.
Get Staff Jazzed about Second-Pair Sales
At our weekly staff meetings I have an optician report to the entire staff how many multiple pairs have been sold so far for the current month. Go over with staff current frame board options for sunglasses, computer eyeglasses, reading eyeglasses and safety eyeglasses. ROB Editor’s Note: Consider tying second-pair sales to staff-wide or individual monetary bonuses, or think about other ways to motivate your staff to sell more second pairs.
Make second-pair sales a marker of optical success–that you know the optical is really doing well when you have met your second-pair sales goals for the month. Explain at staff meetings that second-pair sales are a sign everything is working as it should in the optical. Number of second-pair sales is a good litmus test of how well your optical and practice are running.
MakeSecond-Pair Sales a Team Effort
Receptionist: Ask the patient to bring in all of their eyeglasses including sunglasses, computer glasses, safety glasses and backup eyeglasses.
Technician: Ask to read the prescription on all of the patient’s different pairs of eyeglasses.
Doctor: Mention and recommend multiple pairs of eyeglasses. A thorough review of a patient’s lifestyle often automatically lends itself to recommending multiple pairs of eyeglasses.
Opticians: When the doctor hands off the patient to the optical, opticians need to back up the prescription for a second pair. Opticians should always ask a patient if they would like to have more than one pair of eyeglasses.
Doctor-Patient Exam Room Lifestyle Conversation
Selling second pairs begins with the doctor prescribing second pairs. In the exam room, begin a conversation about lifestyle. Conversing about a patient’s work, home life and hobbies leads a doctor to properly recommend multiple pairs of eyeglasses to match the patient’s visual needs. I find it very powerful to write or print the two or more eyeglasses prescriptions and explain to the patient what each prescription is meant for.
Doctor: “Vanessa, it looks like the prescription for your glasses has changed enough that I am prescribing new eyeglasses. I think it also would be a good idea to consider a second pair to help reduce strain with all that close computer work you do.”
Patient: “Oh, I don’t know, it would be a little too expensive for me to get a second pair. And, you really think I need a second pair made especially for the computer work I do?”
Doctor: “You’d be surprised at what a difference the right glasses can make when working for long periods of time on your computer. We are able to provide glasses that reduce the strain on your eyes, which will allow you to do better work, reducing errors that your eyes may miss when tired.”
Patient: “Well it’s true that could come in handy. But it still might be too much money for me to spend.”
Doctor: “We offer a special package to allow every patient to buy a second pair of eyeglasses. As a thank you for buying a first pair of glasses from us, the frame for your second pair will be discounted by 30 percent. Our opticians will tell you more about this special offer and will go over the advantages of a pair of computer glasses so you’ll end up with computer glasses that you’ll love to wear.”
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Oliver Lou, OD, owns Signature Eye Care in Cedar Park, Texas. He also is adjunct professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. To reach him: email@example.com