Optometric Sales: Discounting Dos and Don'ts
By Kayla Groves March 23, 2021
Many people seek discounts on products and services, and in the optical world, we hear it a lot. “Can you discount my glasses?” I am sure you have heard my favorite line, "I can get these cheaper somewhere else." Yes, you probably can get those cheaper somewhere else. It is difficult for small businesses to compete with large corporations because they have the sales volume to discount without hurting their bottom-line. They cater to people who are always seeking the best deal, and many times, quality and service are sacrificed to help cut those costs. It is essential to emphasize your products' uniqueness and the service provided, and you must use caution when using a discount strategy. If you continually mark down your products, you could end up losing money. To turn your patients into long-term, income-generating patients, consider the following discount dos and don'ts:
1. Move Overstock and Discontinued Products
Did you order 12 pairs of those clear frames that everyone wanted, and then the trend died down before you could move them? Now, you are begging patients to purchase them. Frames that you over-purchased, became discontinued, or went out of style need to be moved before they become un-sellable. Offering a discount can help move them faster, but make sure you are honest with your patients. If you are selling them a discontinued frame, make sure they know that replacement parts will not be available. Receiving fewer profits on those frames may not be ideal, but it is better than losing money.
2. Offer a 2nd Pair Discount
Most insurance companies offer a discount on the second pair of eyeglasses (including lenses). Typically, it is 20-30% off a complete set of eyeglasses. Your office should offer a continuous 2nd pair discount. It is a generous offer for patients struggling with purchasing those sunglasses or that extra set of reading glasses. Most labs offer a 50% discount on a second pair of lenses if ordered within 30 days. Reach out to your lab and see what deals they offer. This tactic can prove extremely profitable if you can cut your cost of goods.
3. Add Value
Instead of offering a discount on the sale, offer an added service for a discounted or free price. For example, if a customer is buying contact lenses, offer a complimentary bottle of solution with a case. If they are purchasing new glasses, offer a cleaning kit or a glasses case. These items are a minimal cost to the business but an added incentive for the customer. Small things can go a long way when building your brand, and it can help establish repeat customers.
1. Price Match
As an independent practice, patients expect a certain type of customer service from you. The kind of service a patient may receive from 1-800 and other such websites for cheaper lenses will differ from the quality of service they will receive from your practice. Online retailers can offer unbelievably low prices that most small businesses cannot match. Your patient knows this. Do not price match with these companies. Instead, consider this, if all of your competitors are offering price matching, what makes a consumer choose one over another? It is simple. The service provided. Make sure you offer your patients something an on-line retailer can't offer, quality one-on-one service. Optometrists must recognize that patients buying behaviors are not solely focused on the lowest price. Build your brand, image, and pricing strategies around something other than price.
2. Discount Often
Customers will be less likely to pay full price if they know you will soon be running a sale or discount. Discounting creates an expectation for future discounting. If your customers see you always offering a deal, they will become less likely to buy if there is not one. If you provide a discount, make sure you are running them at strategic times to bring in the type of new clientele you are looking for. For instance, try a back-to-school discount if you need new pediatric patients.
3. Complicate your Business Dealings
When you offer "unadvertised" discounts to select customers, you are changing your operation to fall under differentiating price structures for the same product and service. Varying price levels can wreak havoc on your books and internal processes, as well as send the wrong message to your patients. Make sure you stay consistent and offer the same deals for every one of your patients.
Offering discounts to patients can be managed if it is not overdone and the office does not lose significant revenue. There are times when discounts make sense, but you need to use them with caution. Make sure the message you are sending to your patient reflects your business accordingly. The goal is to acquire long-term, income-generating patients. If you are offering discounts to bring more patients through the door, make sure you are utilizing the discounting Dos and Don'ts mentioned above.