Contact Lenses

How We Increased Plano Sunwear Sales 38%

Graphic showing an illustration of a chart with increasing sales per month.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Changing the experience of contact lens wearers & increasing sales.

By Andrew Bruce, LDO, ABOM, NCLEM, FCLSA

May 29, 2024

You have a source of increased sunwear sales in your office that may still be untapped: contact lens wearers.

Here are the details on the positive contact lens culture and specific promotions we created that significantly boosted both our annual supply and plano sunwear sales.

Delivering a Personalized Experience

Today’s consumer has come to expect a personalized experience when shopping for a service or product; eyecare qualifies as both. To that end, every staff member must be on the same page, eager to provide patients with a great experience; one that’s personalized to their every need.

Besides delivering uncompromised service and premium quality products, creating a positive contact lens culture in your practice can be instrumental in providing the ideal patient experience and building practice profitability.

While the definition of a positive contact lens culture within a practice is somewhat subjective, according to The Contact Lens Institute (CLI), it is one that has “discovered the secret to making contact lenses a core part of their business.” While, on the surface, this seems simple enough, study findings reveal that there is much work to be done to increase the prevalence of a positive contact lens culture throughout our industry.

Are You Discussing Both CLs & Glasses with Patients?

According to research conducted on behalf of the CLI, approximately 20 percent of glasses-only wearers express being very interested in wearing contact lenses, and the same percentage of contact-lens-only wearers indicate being very interested in wearing glasses.

That said, contacts were not even discussed with 75 percent of eyeglass wearers during their most recent visit with their eyecare professional; similarly, glasses were not discussed with 45 percent of contact lens wearers. Evidently, despite the potential benefits to both the patient and the practice, the patient’s total vision needs are not being adequately addressed.

Reduced insurance reimbursement rates have resulted in doctors needing to see more patients per hour, which results in a shorter doctor-patient interaction.

As a private practice optician, I generally get to spend more time with patients than the doctors, which translates into more opportunities to provide for their total vision needs, by offering the best eyewear solutions. Accordingly, both my opticians and I assume the responsibility to do so.

Subsequently, providing the patient’s eyecare becomes a collaboration between the doctor and optician, ensuring that every patient enjoys an uncompromised experience, and is made fully aware of all their options.

Andrew Bruce with a group of opticians he he is training. He says that a great contact lens experience does more than sell contacts--it can spur sales in the optical, too.

Andrew Bruce with a group of opticians he is training. He says that a great contact lens experience does more than sell contacts–it can spur sales in the optical, too.

Open the Conversation

To promote a positive contact lens culture in your practice, start a conversation with every full-time eyeglass wearer. Ask if they have any interest in wearing contacts to supplement their eyeglasses, and whether they’ve ever discussed the option with their doctor.

Talk with them about the many benefits contacts can provide, in terms of cosmetics, convenience and quality of vision. If the patient is a recovering soft lens drop out, also discuss the many technological improvements that have taken place over the last decade.

Patients choose your office to provide their eyecare because they value your expert advice, guidance and recommendations. They rely on you to let them know that they have choices and they’re not limited to only eyeglasses or only contacts. Why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to benefit from both?

Whether discussing additional pairs of glasses or educating a prospective contact lens wearer on the ways in which contacts can enrich their life, embrace every opportunity to do so. Take the necessary steps toward creating a positive contact lens culture by talking with every patient about contact lenses so that they, and your practice, can begin to reap the many related rewards. While my practice has reaped the financial rewards of creating a positive contact lens culture, its impact on patient satisfaction is, by far, the best reward.

Capturing More Annual Supply Sales Really Is Important

The $12 billion in annual revenue generated by contact lenses in the U.S. in 2023 is not something to take lightly. And in terms of a long-term forecast, contact lenses are projected to contribute to practice profitability by 21 percent between 2023 and 2026.

A highly effective way to increase contact lens sales within your practice is to promote annual supply purchases to every contact lens patient. Practice benefits not only include increased revenue, but also reduced employee-related costs (fewer patients will be calling to order one or two boxes at a time). In addition, the free ship-to-patient service offered by many contact lens manufacturers eliminates employee-related costs that would otherwise result.

In terms of patient benefits, annual supply purchases have been shown to result in increased patient compliance with replacement, serving to protect their long-term eye health.

In addition, the patient doesn’t have to be concerned about running out of contacts before it comes time for their annual exam, which also serves as a reminder for them to schedule as their supply starts to run low. Add to this the convenience of the free ship-to-patient service, and it further enhances the patient experience.

Roll Out an Effective Annual Supply Discount & “Total Eyewear Package”

Several years ago, I revised the contact lens pricing for my practice to facilitate offering a 10 percent discount on annual supplies. In addition, I also implemented a “Total Eyewear Package” to offer every contact lens wearer. The package offers a 10 percent discount on annual supplies of contact lenses, a 20 percent discount on plano sunglasses and a 20 percent discount on an updated pair of prescription eyeglasses.

Upon the introduction of both promotions, annual supply purchases became the norm. Most patients jumped at the opportunity to get a discount, not to mention the added convenience of free shipping to their home. While it took several months for my practice to experience the added benefits of fewer patients calling to order one or two boxes at a time, it did eventually happen. And in addition, plano sunglass also experienced a significant increase in sales.

Results: During the first year that we offered the package, approximately 82 percent of our contact lens patients, at completion of fit, invested in annual supplies (due to discount, convenience and manufacturer rebates). Note: the 82 percent did not reflect our capture rate, but rather, the percentage of patients who purchased “annual supplies” of contacts, vs. smaller quantities, following receiving a finalized Rx. 

Over the same time period, we also saw a 38 percent increase in plano sunglasses sales.

Andrew BruceAndrew Bruce, LDO, ABOM, NCLEM, FCLSA, is a 2024 Contact Lens Institute Visionary. He is a licensed master optician and contact lens fitting specialist in Vancouver, Wash., and founder of ASB Opticianry Education Services.  To contact him:

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