By D. Penn Moody, OD
Annual supplies of contact lenses make sense for patient–and practice. Effectively present this concept to patients, with the help of a new tutorial.
EXPLAIN ANNUAL SUPPLY IS MOST ECONOMICAL. Show patients the savings. Discussper-box price with annual supplies vs.individual box purchases.
SPEAK PATIENTS’ LANGUAGE. Use same terms as patients. If they refer to a “year’s” supply, do the same.
HAVE STAFF PUT SCRIPT IN OWN LANGUAGE. Agree on points to make with patients, but then encourage staff to put those points in their own words.
Selling annual supplies of contact lenses has always been a challenge for my practice because we never had an organized and consistent protocol that involved both the exam room and the staff; plus we didn’t track it (“what you measure gets better”).
Until recently, our annual supply sales averaged just 28 percent of our total contact lens sales. However, thanks to a new tutorial from ABB OPTICAL GROUP, annual supplies now comprise about 50 percent of our total contact lens sales. This increase in annual supply sales is projected to mean as much as an additional $75,000 in revenues to my practice by the end of the year.
We are selling more contact lenses per transaction (more boxes) and we reduce transaction costs by having fewer transactions per patient per year (one order instead of two or three). The number one reason for online contact lens sales is “replacement” lenses, patients buying more lenses after the initial supply purchased from the doctor runs out. Having patients purchase an annual supply, therefore, captures those replacement purchases.
Annual supplies benefit the patient in providing an adequate supply and promoting frequent replacement. Annual supplies also benefit the practice in reducing time-consuming transaction costs and in promoting annual visits, as contact lens patients tend to return around thetime their supply runs out–annually. Contact lens patients are more valuable to the practice, as a result, since they visit more frequently over time than do other patients.
ABB OPTICAL GROUP has updated its online Annual Supply Tutorial with more staff training tools to help accounts promote annual supplies in their practices.
This value-added service is available on abbconcise.comor opticaldlg.com exclusively for ABB OPTICAL GROUP accounts and their office staff. The tutorial provides 16 minutes of training for doctors and their staff with strategies for presenting and closing the sale on annual supplies of soft contact lenses.
For further assistance with developing role-playing scenarios and office staff training, accounts can contact their ABB OPTICAL GROUP sales representative to schedule an appointment.
Track & Discuss Annual Supply Sales
Every week my staff and I note and discuss our annual supply sales, so when our ABB OPTICAL GROUP rep let us know that a new 16-minute tutorial was available online to customers on the ABB OPTICAL GROUP web site, I decided to have our whole practice watch it. I gave my staff a week to watch the tutorial, and in the following week’s meeting, I verbally quizzed them to ensure they really watched it and understood the lessons.
Each week we report the number of contact lens transactions per location and the number that were annual sales. The number since then has been between 34-72 percent, but is typically in the 45-55 percent range. We discuss specific situations staff encounter, such as patient objections, and how we should respond to those objections.
The tutorial gave us a common way to present annual supplies to patients. For example, we all agreed to present annual supplies as the most inexpensive way to buy contact lenses, explaining to patients the cost to them after their insurance and manufacturer rebates have been applied. We also agreed to present the annual supply as the least expensive per-box price available to them. We noticed that patients would come into our office quoting per-box prices they found on the internet, so we wanted to make sure they were getting an apples-to-apples price comparison. Patients often don’t realize the per-box price quoted online usually doesn’t apply unless an annual supply is purchased.
The tutorial was such a success, I’m planning to have staff view it every six months accompanied by a refresher conversation in a staff meeting.
Talk “Year’s” Supply in Exam Room
I never quote contact lens prices in the exam room, but I do make a point of recommending a “year’s” supply of whatever lenses I have prescribed for the patient. I noticed that patients don’t usually use the term “annual supply,” but rather “year’s supply,” so I follow suit speaking their language. I let them know that is not only the most economical option for them, but the option that will encourage the best care of their eyes.
Speaking in common terms, I compare the need to change contacts according to the wear and care regimen to changing the oil in a car. Just as you wouldn’t wait until a car starts smoking before you change the oil, you wouldn’t want to wait until your eyes become uncomfortable to change your contacts. That is how I emphasize the importance of changing the lenses when you’re supposed to, rather than waiting for discomfort to arise. I then make the bridge between the importance of changing the lenses on time and an annual supply, noting that having a full stock of contacts throughout the year makes following the regimen–rather than over-wearing the lenses–much easier.
At the end of the exam, after I have had this conversation with patients, I tell them that one of our staff members in the optical will go over the specifics about their insurance and will show them the cost of the annual supply after their vision benefits and the manufacturer rebate has been applied.
Click HERE or above to download a copy of the comparison sheet Dr. Moody developed for staff to show patients the cost per box when an annual supply is purchased versus the cost per box when each box is purchased individually or in smaller supply increments.
Have Staff Put Script in Own Language
My staff and I agree on the key points to touch on with patients such as the per-box cost comparison noted earlier and the importance of annual supplies to enabling proper wear and care compliance, but I want staff to put it in their own words. I have developed scripts with key points for staff to make about annual supplies, but I let them know that I don’t want them to just memorize the script and recite it to patients. People know when you’re just reading from a script, so it is important for patients to feel it is coming from them.
ABB OPTICAL GROUP offers a tear sheet that staff can use to calculate the cost after insurance and rebates have been factored in, but I took it a step further and developed price comparison sheets that our staff can use showing the cost per box when an annual supply is purchased versus the cost per box when each box is purchased individually or in smaller supply increments.
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