By Robert Bass, OD, FAAO
April 26, 2017
Annual supplies of contact lenses keep patients’ contact lens purchases in your practice for a full year, encourages them to return to your office annually, and aids in wearing compliance. My practice has made a concerted effort over the last few years to increase the number of patients who buy annual supplies from us.
To make the decision to buy an annual supply a no-brainer, present patients with the benefits of an annual supply combined with a significant dollar savings.
Of our 4,787 contact lens patients, 46.5 percent buy annual supplies from us. Our goal is for 100 percent of our contact lens patients to buy annual supplies.
Sell Annual Supplies or Lose Sales & Lessen Patient Care
If you don’t sell an annual supply, where does the patient get the rest of their supply? You, online or a mass retailer. Selling an annual supply ensures those sales stay in your practice, rather than go after three or six months to an online, or mass, retailer.
From a patient care standpoint, if they do not buy an annual supply, they will extend the wear schedule of their contacts, and risk infection, or worse. Financially, it is a win-win, the doctor makes a few more dollars, and the patient saves a few dollars by purchasing an annual supply, which often comes with a $100 rebate.
What’s more, patients who purchase an annual supply usually return on time each year for an examination and another annual supply of contacts. They are least likely to extend the wear schedule of their contacts, and therefore, less likely to have contact lens-induced eye infections.
Show Patients the Financial Sense of the Annual Supply
We say: “Your lenses per box are $XX, but when you buy an annual supply, it is $XX per box, saving you $XX. Also, here is a manufacturer rebate coupon for $XX for you to mail in, saving you $XX.” Takes seconds to do this. With renewal of the prescription, my staff alerts me that last year the patient purchased an annual supply, so all I say is: “Our staff will help with your annual supply at the front desk.”
Talk Annual Supply Strategy with Your CL Reps
We work with six contact lens reps. At least once each year, and with the launch of a new product, the reps will meet with our doctors and staff. All reps discuss with us the importance of selling annual supplies, and they all have a different take on it, each showing us how they might approach the conversation. The important point is to first emphasize the benefit to the patient in safeguarding eye health, and facilitating comfort and convenience, with a fresh lens every day, and then showing how rebates can make the annual sale more economical for the patient.
Rather than having patients come to our office to pick up their contacts, we only offer home deliver in 1-3 days. That way we avoid tying up practice funds by keeping inventory in the office.
Doctors Lead the Effort
The effort to sell more annual supplies begins in the exam room, with the doctor explaining the importance of adhering to the recommended wearing schedule for the contact lens that has been prescribed. The conversation on the importance of compliance can then easily lead into the opportunity to buy an annual supply, so the patient doesn’t have to worry about running out of contacts before their next annual exam and prescription renewal, and saving money in the process.
With doctors in the lead, it is the doctors in our practice who, along with contact lens reps, train staff on how to have the annual supplies conversation with patients. Our staff has been taught that annual supplies are the best buy for the patient, and have learned the coupons and rebates that are available to sweeten the deal. They also know the more frequently you replace your lenses the better your eyes will feel.
Consider Annual Supply Promotions
We haven’t done it yet, but we’ve given thought to a promotion for a discounted pair of “backup glasses” with the purchase of an annual supply, or a discount on a pair of plano sunglasses after buying an annual supply. Anything you can to encourage patients to buy an annual supply is a win for both them, and the practice.