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The Road to the Optical

Who is responsible for eyewear sales in a practice? The obvious answer is the optical staff. Most dispensing opticians are very good at helping patients find the right frames, lenses, and treatments. But before an optician can sell eyewear, the patient has to get to the optical. And with retailers luring patients away with promises of low-priced eyewear, we can’t assume that they’ll get there on their own. (Optical capture rates in many practices are below 50 percent.) So how do you make sure the patient’s journey through your office includes the optical? The answer is teamwork, and everyone has a role to play.


Receptionist: Ensure that the patient fills out a questionnaire. The questionnaire should include questions about the patient’s work and leisure activities that may help in determining the most appropriate eyewear for the patient. It should accompany the patient throughout the appointment. If the patient arrives early for the appointment, or the doctor is running late, suggest that they browse the frame boards in the optical (there are very few eyeglass wearers who don’t enjoy this, and they might find a frame they can’t leave without.)


Optometric tech: Review the questionnaire and ask any needed follow-up questions. Highlight any information pertinent to a choice of eyewear and relay it to the doctor.


Doctor: Recommend lenses and treatments that will help the patient get the best vision. A doctor’s recommendation always carries the most weight, and it’s appropriate that the recommendation be made in the medical setting of the exam room rather than the retail setting of the optical – after all, prescription eyeglasses are medical devices.


Doctor to Dispenser: The moment when the exam ends is a turning point for eyewear sales – literally. This is where the patient either turns toward the optical, or heads for the reception desk to check out. (If, in your practice, patients have to walk through the optical to get to the front desk, congratulations on a great office layout.) That’s why a good “handoff” of the patient from the doctor to the dispenser is crucial. The patient should hear the doctor pass the lens recommendation(s) onto the dispenser, providing a perfect segue to the more detailed discussion that leads to the sale.


Dispenser: Explain why the specific lenses and treatments have been recommended and how they work. In doing this, it’s a good idea to refer back to the patient questionnaire, to remind the patient that the recommendation is rooted in what they’ve said about themselves. Take all needed measurements, fit the frames, and discuss the price. Let the patient know about the services you provide after the purchase, like free frame adjustments and quick resolution of any problems that may arise.


Your capture rate will be higher if everyone on the staff helps “point the way” to the optical. This doesn’t mean that everyone in the office is a salesperson; it simply means that they should be mindful of the importance of giving every patient the opportunity to choose the best eyewear. (And the only way you can ensure that is if they buy it from you.) Working together toward this goal increases the likelihood that patients will get the best vision possible and be the most satisfied when they choose your optical.


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