contact lens economics
How to Triple Your
Contact Lens Revenue
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Bet that headline caught your eye! What if instead I wrote, "Would you like to increase your
contact lens revenue?" Not nearly as effective. Why? What are the subtle underlying
differences between and nuances contained in "How to..." and "Would you like to...?"
One tells. The other asks.
I'm going to go out on a limb here. I'm going to assume that if you're reading my column this month, you want to increase your contact lens revenue. I'm assuming you want to read what I'm writing. With that in mind, I'm going to tell you the very simple secret to increasing your contact lens revenue.
Assume your patients want contact lenses. Tell them about contact lenses. Don't ask them about lenses. Unlike the political rhetoric of "Don't ask, don't tell," I'm advocating "Tell, don't ask."
Look at any other industry and see how it uses what is often referred to as "assumptive selling." "What size fries would you like with that burger?" is a very different question than "Would you like fries with your burger?"
When your next eyeglass patient is sitting in your chair, assume he want fries with his burger. Once you have that established, assume he wants contact lenses. Instead of asking your patient, "Would you like to try contact lenses?" tell him something like, "I'd like to tell you about which contact lenses are right for you." An even more direct assumptive selling approach: "Would you prefer to wear contact lenses part time or full time?"
Eyeglass Patient or
Contact Lens Patient?
Indeed, even our very definitions and categorizations of patients can work against us. I referred above to "your next eyeglass patient." What exactly is an eyeglass patient? Most likely one who will leave your office with eyeglasses and not contact lenses! In defining patients by their ophthalmic appliance, we are not only pigeonholing them but limiting our income. We are assuming eyeglass patients want eyeglassesnot contact lenses. I advocate that terminology often seen in appointment books (EE for eyeglass exam) be discarded in favor of amorphous terminology. Not doing so means that your patient's fate as a potential convert from eyeglasses to contact lenses may be sealed by your receptionist coding the appointment.
This same assumptive technique can be used with other facets of your contact lens practice. Compliance can be increased by assuming patients want to comply. The question "How often do you change your daily disposable lenses?" should instead be framed: "Isn't it great putting on a fresh pair of contact lenses every day?" Non-compliant patients immediately understand that what they are doing is certainly incorrect. You haven't talked down, admonished or scolded them for being non-compliant. Compliant patients are rewarded by your acknowledgment that they are wearing the lenses as they should.
If you start assuming and stop asking, will you really triple your contact lens revenue? Let's assume one-third of the patients you tell about contact lenses actually gets contact lenses and likes them. You tell me.
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. He can be reached at 800-867-9303 or
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: March 2001