Practice Management

Secrets to Creating a Sports Vision Niche to Propel Practice Growth & Profitability

RecSpecs by Liberty Sports glasses on display in the window of Dr. Mena’s practice. He says that making it easy to find sports eyewear products in your office, and educating patients about the need for them, is essential to boosting sales of these products.

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By ROB Editors

Sports vision can greatly improve the lives of athletes, even those who only do their sports as an after-school activity or leisurely hobby. Your practice doubtless has many of these weekend athletes as patients.

Here are tips from ROB contributor Vittorio Mena OD, MS, on how he grew a sports vision practice that generates $184,000+ annually in net profit, along with ROB Editor tips on using patient financing via the CareCredit credit card to make this even more of a practice growth opportunity.

“Sales of sports eyewear in my practice generate around $170,000 annually and sales of sports eye vitamins generate $14,000 annually,” Dr. Mena told ROB. The greatest profit from sports vision in Dr. Mena’s practice comes from sunglasses, contact lenses, sports eye vitamins, sports eyewear and prescription swimming google sales.

Every Patient is a Potential “Athlete”
Dr. Mena says he considers every patient who walks into his exam room a potential athlete. “If this was a perfect world, every athlete on the planet would be wearing sports eyewear as a protective measure, whether they had a prescription or not,” says. He notes that sunglasses are a great place to start the sports eyewear conversation: “A great opening for a sunwear conversation occurs when a patient tells me they participate in an outdoor sport. I emphasize the need to protect their eyes from the sun. I explain that the blue light they are concerned about from their electronic devices is emitted much more powerfully by the sun. That information often inspires the patient to finally invest in a pair of high-quality sunglasses.”

Invest in at Least One Great Sports Eyewear Line
The first step to selling sports eyewear is opening an account with a sports eyewear company, Dr. Mena advises. His practice sells RecSpecs by Liberty Sport. The practice offers more youth protective eyewear than adult, but has products available in our office for adults, too. “We usually mark this merchandise up 2-3x over the wholesale cost to our practice. This generates $170,000 in net profit annually,” he says.

Sell Sports Eye Vitamins
In addition to eyewear, Dr. Mena has helped patients by prescribing and selling sports-related eye vitamins. “I began selling eye vitamins in May 2015. As a sports performance vision optometrist, I prescribed EyePromiseVizual Edge PRO to support the brain in relation to its interaction with the visual system during the competition of sports,” he explains. “However, in the past few months I have started prescribing a supplement called VIZION EDGE, which contains a high amount of zeaxanthin and lutein, as well as meso-zeaxanthin.”

These vitamins typically come in a case of 24. Dr. Mena says that in the first month of prescribing these vitamins, a total of five cases of VIZION EDGE were purchased for the practice with four cases sold in just four weeks.

There are 30 soft gels in each VIZION EDGE bottle, which last patients one month as they take it once a day. The cost to the practice on each bottle is $13-$15. The profit to the practice per bottle is around $15. EyePromise Vizual Edge PRO comes in a case of 10 and the cost to the practice is $450. Profit on each patient is about $30-$35 per box.

“On average I sell about three bottles a day and the office is open six days a week,” says Dr. Mena. “That means I go through one case of vitamins in about a week and a half. $45 a day x 6 days a week = $270 per week. On average, that is an additional $14,000 per year to the practice selling just three bottles a day.”

Bring Sports Eyewear & Products to More Patients
Sports eyewear and products, like vitamins, can add significantly to a patient’s out-of-pocket charge for their visit. Yet as a doctor, you want the patient to leave with all the products they need to maximize enjoyment of their lifestyle while protecting their eyes.

Patient financing through the CareCredit credit card gives you the chance to offer patients a way to space out payment for their sports eyewear and other products you prescribed. When patients don’t have to pay all at one time for these products, they often come within reach.

“Sarah, you could really benefit from these polarzied sunglasses for the boating you do, and these glasses would greatly enhance your vision while playing golf. You expressed concern about adding to your out-of-pocket charges. We definitely understand those concerns. The good news is, we offer patient financing through use of the CareCredit credit card. Our staff can help you through the simple application process. If you are approved, you will be able to pay us over the span of months, rather than having to pay us all of it right now. How does that sound?”

Parents also will be pleased to know there is a way to help their child maximize performance of their favorite sport while protecting their eyes. “Tom, you said Billy plays baseball, and that his goal is to continue playing when he gets to college. He probably wants every advantage he can get. I want to prescribe Billy vitamins designed to help improve athletic performance. Like all purchases in our office, you could use your CareCredit credit card to space out payment for those vitamins.”

Patients want to get the most out of their lives, and want to help their children to do the same. Sports vision products, like eyewear and sports eye vitamins, give them a way to do even better at something they already love. Patient financing can be the vehicle that allows them to benefit from that extra help.

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