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Setting the Standard for Optical: A Guide for Office Managers in Optometry Practices

03/14/2018

Office Managers are responsible for setting the expectations for all office employees.  The optical staff is a unique situation because the patient experience is easily measured.  Good communication and clear goals will go a long way to improve patient satisfaction in this very important area of the practice. The emphasis is on the fact that if these numbers are strong, they indicate a high-quality interaction between the optician and the client.

Here is a practical framework for setting clear, measurable and attainable goals for the optical staff. We want to put the emphasis on the fact that positive performance in these metrics ensures that every patient is receiving the very best products and services tailored for their lifestyle and vision needs.

  1. What these numbers tell us
  • Capture Rate
  • Average frame price
  • Average lens price
  • Multiple pair sales
  • Sunglass sales
  1. The value of a weekly optical staff meeting, fostering collaboration
  2. Visible posting of goals and positive feedback

Providing our patients with the very best services and products is our number one concern.  How do we measure that when it comes to eyeglass sales? 

We use these numbers to determine how many people are being offered everything that we can provide to solve a need that they have. 

  • The capture rate: How many people we have saved from a poor experience at an online or discount optical. We know that the frames and lenses we use and the quality control we put them through ensures the very best product. If they go elsewhere, we are not able to give them those same assurances. Although the advertising for discounters claims that the product is “the same as at your doctor’s office, for a fraction of the price” we know that is nonsense. It is up to us to communicate that to our clients.
  • Average frame price: The variety of frame choices presented to our customers. If this number is low, there is not enough interest in providing the best fit, fashion and comfort to everyone. It is not possible to fit every client’s needs and stay in a very narrow price range.
  • Average lens price: Are patients being put into the best lens for their needs. Hi Index, Transitions, blue light filters and premium progressives will all impact this number. We set the bar quite high where it comes to AR because everyone gets a great benefit from AR coating. Night driving, computer, harsh fluorescent lighting and aesthetics are all important factors.  AR has become practically an industry standard.
  • Multiple pair sales: Most people’s needs are not met in one pair of glasses. If we are asking lifestyle questions, we are constantly uncovering situations that would benefit from the use of a special pair of eyeglasses. Musicians, sports people, heavy computer use, gamers, etc. If we are not providing those solutions, it will show as lower multiple pair sales.
  • Sunglasses: The need for high quality sunglasses is so obvious to us that we assume that it is not important to review all that information to every patient, every day. We must remember that we work with this information in our heads every day, they are only here and engaged with us for no more than a day every one or two years.

 Let’s start thinking differently about rejection and goals.

Let’s start thinking differently about rejection and goals. As a practice, goals are set in the optical to ensure a high level of professionalism. Price push back is very painful, but you must believe in the value of the product and service you are providing. Push back should not cause you to stop offering value products.  Quite the opposite. If you receive positive feedback from just one person by presenting all the options, that is at least one person who otherwise would not be aware of all the solutions available to them at all.  Getting a “no” or “not at this time” gives you the satisfaction of knowing you have done your best and should not discourage you in any way.  If you are being thorough with everyone, you will encounter resistance.  It is much better for them to have solid information than it is to hear back later that they are disappointed that they were not offered transitions, for example, and their friend was.  It is very important to not make assumptions about someone else’s finances or their level of commitment to buying high quality products. Think of each patient as a family member.  You want them to have beautiful frames and perfect lenses. It is not appropriate to make assumptions about their ability or desire to pay for great eyeglasses.

So …. What percentage of your patients should have sunglasses, either rx or non-rx over contact lenses?

Uhm…. 2%?!? , if that is your average, you are not reaching enough people with that option. I believe that nearly 100% of the population should have high quality sunwear.  Of course, not every person has the resources to order them at the same time as the appointment, but the number should still be well above 2%.

You can go right down the list and ask the same question for each category.  Viewed this way, you can take great pride in knowing that improving these numbers means you are providing education and valuable solutions to your customers.

It is sometimes helpful to remind patients that most FSA and HSA accounts allow them to be used for any prescription eyeglasses.  So, if their vision plan gave them a benefit towards the first pair, they can use these other accounts for the co-pay and the additional pairs.

Weekly Meetings: A weekly meeting with all the optical staff is very helpful.  They can share challenges and offer peer support.  The meetings should not be focused on numbers as much as on new products, techniques and supporting each other in providing excellent vision care.

Goals and Positive Feedback: Including the staff in setting the goals adds to the commitment they will feel towards them.  Goals should be posted where the staff sees them frequently and are able to track their own progress. Improvements and efforts should be rewarded.  Rewards can range from a verbal thank you, recognizing their effort to incentive programs.

AUTHOR

IDOC Optometry - Color Bar
Patricia Basile

Patricia Basile

Pat Basile has extensive experience in customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has worked in both the large chain stores and in private practices. This gives her a unique perspective in knowing the competition and how best to survive the competitive era that we find ourselves in. She firmly believes that the consumer is much better served at the small, independent and caring optical practice, where they deliver more personal attention to the details that are so important to ensure that a great eye exam is followed by providing excellent eyewear. Pat will listen to your concerns, help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include setting goals, training optical staff, inventory control and product mix.