How to Supercharge Profits on Lenses
By Kayla Groves July 21, 2020
Eyewear sales account for over 60% of an optometric practice’s gross revenue. With those statistics in mind, the doctor must pay careful attention to the cost of goods and maintain profitable margins. Typically, frame buying and lens selection are delegated to the optician or optical staff. The doctor needs to be an active participant in his/her optical and understand the numbers. Remember, if a staff member leaves, you should be able to continue selling quickly. Here are a few tips to help you maximize profits on lenses:
Know your demographics
Knowing your demographics is the most crucial key point in maximizing your profits. It is essential to offer products that your clients want to purchase. You can easily accomplish this with three primary tactics:
1. Research- You should have an in-depth understanding of your demographics. You will need to know your area's median income, average age range, and you should keep a close eye on your competition. What products are they carrying? What products can you sell that will help differentiate your office?
2. Observation- Pay careful attention to your patient's current eyewear. What type of lenses are they currently wearing? Is this a product that you offer? Why or why not?
3. Conversation- Start the discussion in the exam chair. What do you currently like about your lenses? What problems are they experiencing? Do you want more viewing room in your progressive lenses? Do they have issues with glare? These are especially important questions that can open a dialogue and help you recommend the best lenses for your patient.
Consider your manufacturers
I am sure you have heard the saying, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." While this is excellent advice in some situations, it is not appropriate for running an optometry practice. In the optical world, lenses are continually changing, and new product is continuously hitting the market. While big manufacturers can be appealing, it might be in your best interest to purchase from smaller independent manufactures. The international trade fair, Vision Expo East/West, is the perfect place to branch out and research some smaller manufacturers. Reach out to some of your current reps and ask them if they will give you free tickets. Many of your reps can help with the cost of air travel and lodging arrangements. Typically, with newer manufactures, your price will be lower, and due to small volume, your turn around time and quality control will be faster and more efficient. Each year you should evaluate your cost of goods and negotiate pricing with your manufacturers. You would be surprised at what kind of deals they are willing to give you to keep your business.
Join a buying group
Buying groups can be beneficial, and you should consider joining one. A significant advantage of joining a buying group is that they can negotiate higher discounts than you may be able to. Usually, this discount can be anywhere from 3 to 10 percent, and some offer discounts up to 50 percent. They offer discounts on frame buying, but they also provide discounts on lenses and complete pairs. Also, frame reps and lens reps provide additional rebates on top of current discounts exclusive to certain buying groups. Here are a few top-rated buying groups to join:
1. IDOC- Independent Doctors of Optometric Care
2. PECCA- Professional Eye Care Associates of America
3. PERC- Professional Eyecare Resource Co-Operative
4. RTC- Red Tray Network
While some buying groups are not subject to monthly or annual fees, most require a membership fee that can range from a couple of hundred dollars to a percentage of your sales. You should do competent research and if you decide to join a buying group, make sure that the discounts outweigh the fees. Also, reach out to old classmates, colleagues on Linkedin, network within your state optometry association to get feedback. You can also ask these groups for references. These ECPs will likely offer great insight into what you can expect working with a buying group.
How do you motivate your staff? Do they work on commission or salary? If they do not prosper by making you more money, then why should they do it? It seems logical to expect your employees to do their job, but does that help with their drive? Does it help motivate them enough to sell a second pair? These are questions you will want to ask yourself. If your staff is not provided goals, incentives for specific benchmarks, or commission, you should reconsider your approach. Lead by example and appropriately reward individuals who are helping your bottom-line.
Overall, keeping costs as low as possible will help improve your profits. I encourage the doctor to take an active role in the optical portion of his/her business. Your buyer or seller is not looking at the bottom-line, and if you are actively participating, you can help improve that aspect. Remember, the optical is your top income producer, and it requires the right amount of attention to grow properly.