How Our Practice Consistently Achieves a 90+% Eyewear Capture Rate

An eyewear styling booth at Buena Vista Optical, an eyecare and optical shop in Chicago.

An eyewear styling booth at Dr. Canto-Sims’ practice, Buena Vista Optical. Dr. Canto-Sims says creating a personalized experience for each patient is a great way to set your practice apart from online retailers and large optical chains.

By Diana Canto-Sims, OD

May 17, 2023

Capturing eyewear sales in the face of stiff competition from online retail and large chains is no easy feat. However, it’s an achievement our practice has attained consistently for the last several years.

In 2022, our eyewear capture rate was 93 percent; in 2021, it was 100 percent; and in 2020, it was 107 percent. That 100+ percent metric occurred due to selling multiple pairs in 2020 to most patients. During the pre-pandemic years in 2019 and 2018, our capture rates were 82 percent. Our capture rate has gone down slightly the past two years due to patient feelings of uncertainty about our economy and inflation. However, at 91 percent so far this year, it is still impressive.

Here are three actions we take to maintain such a high capture rate.

Created Curated Collections of Glasses & Sunwear for Each Patient
We do our best to differentiate the optical buying experience for every patient by offering unique eyewear and having well-trained stylist-opticians create a curated collection of eyewear and sunwear for each patient. We started curating eyewear for each patient when we pivoted our sales strategy in 2020 during the shutdown.

During the pandemic, we knew we couldn’t see more patients due to social distancing, but we also knew that patients needed a wardrobe of eyewear for their everyday life. Selling multiple pairs to each patient came naturally with this mindset shift.

The total required investment to be able to create curated collections for patients was around $20,000. We used those funds to bring in ultra-luxury (over $1,000 retail frame price) and additional luxury ($600-$999) eyewear. We negotiated billing terms and an on-boarding discount with our frame vendors.

Our entire staff needed to buy into this approach to selling eyewear. We didn’t want to stock our shelves with expensive frames if our staff didn’t have the mindset to style our patients in them.

We made a list of 4-5 luxury and ultra-luxury frame representatives to come to our office and show us their collections. Their task (besides bringing lunch) was to present what makes each collection unique. Each frame rep was able to show and educate us about their frame collection; who is it for? Who is it NOT for? Our team also was taught the materials used to create the glasses, how they are manufactured, the best way to style them, sell them and anything else that would give us an edge in presenting the frames to patients. After learning about each frame collection, we all voted and decided to bring on three. This assured that the luxury collections we brought on board were approved by staff and that they were “sold” on selling it.

We hired a consultant with a background in opticianry and a psychology degree to train our staff. He flew in, and we did an eight-hour boot camp training on day one and eight hours of implementation the next day. It was essential to not just “sell luxury,” but for our staff to understand the reasons why people do and don’t buy. These educational sessions cost our practice around $5,000.

Our educational efforts created a well-trained and knowledgeable staff. They were already great opticians. With the new training, they became eyewear styling consultants who could help patients create a curated eyewear and sunwear wardrobe for their lifestyle.

Our revenue grew from $1.2 million in 2019 to $1.9 million in 2020. In 2021, our revenue was $2.4 million. The patient referral boost during this time was phenomenal. Patients started noticing that our frame collections were unique compared to all the other opticals around us. Our patients were our walking billboards modeling our ultra-luxury frames, inspiring their family and friends to get their own eyewear and sunwear styling consultation, and making buying multiple pairs per visit normal.

Our capture rate that year increased to 107 percent in 2020 because most patients bought 2-3 pairs during their visit or returned a few weeks later to purchase more pairs. Staff and doctors started feeling confident recommending multiple pairs like everyday glasses, safety eyewear, prescription sunglasses and computer (or Zoom) eyeglasses when necessary.

It’s also important to keep in mind that our capture rate calculations include outside Rx’s. In 2022, 6 percent of our total capture rate was from outside Rx’s. We promote and advertise “Eyewear and sunwear styling sessions, bring your script from another optical.”

Another reason our capture rate rose to 107 percent was because during the shutdown, we were open for emergencies only. Not performing eye exams. We had a LOT of firefighters, police officers and nurses come to purchase glasses with their outside Rx.

A photo of an optical shop showing Gucci frames and other stylish eyewear brands.

The front of the optical shop in Dr. Canto-Sims’ practice. While some big brand names are sold, Dr. Canto-Sims says the practice tries to sell frames that are not heavily marketed online.

Stopped Selling Frames Heavily Marketed Directly to Patients Online
Some patients request their prescription to buy eyewear cheaper online or at a big box optical. To combat the impact of this trend, we refuse to carry frame lines that are easily found online or sold, promoted and marketed directly to our patients online.

We started doing this around 8-10 years ago when Warby Parker and other online opticals started aggressively marketing.

Our strategy makes it hard-to-impossible for patients to use our optical as a showcase for buying glasses online. We once overheard a patient on his cell phone with an online vendor asking about specific motorcycle goggles. He then informed us that the online vendor sent him to try on the motorcycle goggles at a brick and mortar to make sure they fit, but told him to buy them online on their site because he could get them cheaper that way. We terminated this frame vendor immediately after we called our frame rep and shared how unethical this was.

We did the due diligence of verifying that every frame line we offered our patients was not readily available online or in big box stores.

We made one exception. We strategically chose to keep a small inventory of one collection to attract patients inquiring about this brand to make an appointment. However, once here, we styled them in an independent frame instead by educating the patient about the quality and unique features of the frame.

Frame reps train our staff on the unique features of their frame line, which they then teach our patients. Patients feel confident that the eyewear they purchase from us fits well, looks great and is of superb quality.

Staff love it when patients walk out with their prescription after their eye exam, but return the following day to purchase the eyewear they were styled in. These patients returned because they loved how they looked and felt in the eyewear we styled them in and couldn’t find something comparable online or at a big box store. They may have gone online or to a competitor looking for the same or a similar frame cheaper and couldn’t find it. They realized buying eyewear online was more challenging and inconvenient than they thought it would be.

Started Offering 3 Eyewear Style Options
If you allow your patient to pick the one frame they liked and tell them the total price, it’s a “take it or leave it” option. It’s effortless to walk out if they only have one option.

Instead, offer the right frame inventory for your patient demographic and present the patient with three eyewear style options with three price tiers (Fashion, Luxury or Ultra-Luxury). If the patient does not want to invest $2,000 on a pair of Ultra-Luxury eyeglasses, they may feel more comfortable purchasing a $900 Luxury or $500 Fashion pair. Giving your patients options helps them feel like they don’t have to take that one option or leave it and find a cheaper or better option elsewhere.

You can also offer a value option if they request a lower price. We do not display or showcase any value frame options in our practice. We present the value option if they mention their budget is lower than the Fashion option. This prevents the patient from walking out with their prescription because we offered them a fourth option. They now have options to purchase their eyewear instead of “take it or leave it.”

We started offering tiered options in 2020 when we started offering ultra-luxury eyewear. We understood that if we invested in ultra-luxury frames, we needed to purchase frame styles that aligned with our patient demographics. Interestingly, when a patient knows they could have invested in a $2,000 pair of glasses but instead decided to only invest $900, they feel like they made a wise decision. If they are presented with only one price point, they may automatically assume it’s too expensive because they have no other option to compare the price with.

We invest 10-15 hours in the second week of every December to create a frame buying strategy. We analyze that year’s sales data and generate a frame forecast for the following year. If a frame collection did poorly, we eliminate that collection the next year.

Our staff trainings are short, but consistent, every two weeks. We do bi-weekly training for all our staff and teach them something new. We train for 20 minutes and take 10 minutes for Q&A. We bring our frame reps to reiterate the uniqueness of their frame collections as a reminder during the year.


Diana Canto-Sims, OD, is co-owner of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago and co-founder of Latinos En Optometry . To contact her:


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