By Brianna Rhue, OD, FAAO
April 12, 2023
It’s easy to think you know your capture rate for patients purchasing frames and contact lenses, but you’d be surprised. Your numbers may not be as reliable as you think. Here is what I have learned about getting the most accurate sense of how well I am doing at selling glasses and contact lenses.
Not All Patients Are Potential Purchasers of Glasses & CLs
When calculating capture rates for frames and contact lenses, it isn’t simply a matter of calculating how many, of all the patients you saw in a given day, purchased these products from you. You wouldn’t count those who visited your office that day for follow-up exams or for medical eyecare visits. You also wouldn’t count patients who you did not write an eyewear or contact-lens prescription for.
I should stipulate that in some practices, the doctor has a belief that even emmetropes should wear glasses. If your practice has this philosophy, then you would, indeed, need to calculate your capture rates based on all patients who visited your practice in a given day for a comprehensive exam. You would be counting in this case patients for whom you wrote prescriptions for computer glasses or sports glasses, and whether they purchased those products from you.
In the case of contact lenses, the calculation is simpler. Unlike glasses, it is hard-to-impossible, with the exception of color contact lenses, to argue that all patients should be contact-lens wearers. That means that for contact lenses, you can simply calculate how many patients purchased lenses from you after you wrote a prescription for contacts during their exam.
Your Capture Rates from the Pandemic Are Not Reliable as Comparative Data
During the height of the pandemic, after offices first reopened, frame capture rates were much higher than usual because patients generally did not want to shop around in other stores for frames. They did not want the additional exposure to germs and did not want to go through the temperature check and other protocols that were widely used in those first months of reopening. They wanted to get in and get out quickly, meaning the easiest thing at that time was to buy their glasses from the same office where they had their exams.
Contact lenses, on the other hand, saw unusually low capture rates in private practices during the pandemic due to the heightened marketing of online retailers.
As a result, you should compare your current frame and contact-lens capture rates to 2019 and 2022 numbers, rather than those from 2020 or 2021.
Has the Sale Really Been Captured & When During the Patient’s Visit Was it Captured (or Lost)?
Just because a patient tells you they are going to purchase their glasses or contact lenses from you, doesn’t mean they will. You need a system for tracking the communication you have with patients in the exam room about purchasing glasses and contact lenses, and what the result of that communication was. Your opticians also need to track this communication with patients. That way, you know exactly where in your process the sale was captured or lost.
If a patient told you they would be purchasing their glasses from you, and then you saw that a purchase was never made, wouldn’t you like to know what happened when the patient left your exam room? Did they leave the office without further exchange or comment to your staff, or did they have an exchange with your staff that didn’t go well? For example, the patient may have expressed concerned about price, and your staff was not able to point out the variety of price points you offer, or the value packages you sell. Or maybe they expressed disappointment with your selection, and your opticians were not able to persuade the patient to stay long enough to work with them to find frames they would love from your board.
Conversely, the patient may have been unwilling to commit to making a purchase while in the exam room, but after spending a few minutes with your opticians, they changed their mind.
A tracking sheet in which the doctor and opticians make a one- or two-line note about the communication that took place with the patient about purchasing can allow you to pinpoint where the sale was won or lost. This then can allow you to provide additional training to your staff or refine your own communication in the exam room.
Also Need to Figure In Impact of CL Patients Who Purchase But Not an Annual Supply
If you have 1,000 contact-lens patients and your contact-lens capture rate is 80 percent, that means 200 patients walked out door. Now of the 800 who purchased, if annual supply purchase for those patients is 50 percent, then that means 400 patients need to reorder from you plus the loss of the 200 who walked. So, even if your capture rate is 80 percent, you still have left 60 percent to make a decision for themselves on where they will reorder from.
Technology that makes it easier for patients to reorder contact lenses online from you, and then reorder easier from you than they could from an online retailer, can greatly boost your contact-lens capture rate. My company, Dr. Contact Lens, for instance, makes it possible for patients to tap a link that is texted to them to reorder their lenses. Their prescription, and if they choose, their credit card information, is saved, so that the patient has to just tap their phone screen a few times to get their next supply of contact lenses sent to directly to them. If they ordered from an online retailer, they would have to re-input all that information.
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One Lost Prescription Adds Up in Impact to All Independent ODs
One prescription walking adds up. It’s not about the one who walked out of your office, but the one who walked out of all of our 30,000 independent offices that are making online retailers more giant and powerful. All of us working individually on capturing more frame and contact-lens sales is a way we can come together to stop further empowering online retailers. We are helping our patients by having them purchase from us by building longer-term purchasing relationships with our patients.
In many cases, we can provide better service and care for our patients versus online retailers, and in the process, we can make our practices and independent optometry as a whole, more powerful. By implementing an easy way for patients to shop with your practice you can become the disruptor. Be there for your patients and your patients will be there for you.