The Business of Contact Lenses
Winning the Race
BY GARY GERBER, OD
The first person to cross the finish line wins the race. That’s a truism in running, swimming, cycling and car racing. And, in my experience, it’s a safe bet that the first eyecare practitioner (ECP) to cross the finish line wins the race too. Of course, the race and finish line for an ECP doesn’t involve the waving of a checkered flag. Instead, it means increased profits and a healthier, more vibrant practice.
Winning in Practice
But what’s our equivalent of the race and finish line? It awaits practitioners with the foresight, wisdom and business acumen to realize the benefits of bringing “firsts” to their patients; being known in their communities as the go-to guy or gal for everything new in eye care. And the first we’re talking about here is new contact lens technology. As in sports, the first one wins. In this case, the first ECP to offer the latest technology to his patients, and those patients who benefit from the technology, are the winners.
Why Winning is Important
If you’re the first ECP in your area to offer a new technology contact lens, your patients are more likely to perceive you as ahead of the curve compared to others.
It’s just plain common sense to think that those who offer new technology first are technologically ahead of those who do not. This perception of being an expert percolates down to all aspects of your practice. “If they offer the latest contact lenses, they must do everything else really well too.” You wouldn’t expect a cardiac surgeon who performs the latest surgical procedure to offer leeches as an alternative therapy. An extreme example? Yes, but it proves the point. Patients in offices offering new technology don’t expect, and won’t receive, HEMA lenses. In fact, we often define and judge our peers based on their proclivity to embrace and espouse new technologies. If we do it, don’t you think our patients will, too? In other words, impressed patients will spread the word, and free word-of-mouth marketing is the best kind.
The other benefit to being the first to offer new technology is an economic one. Early adopter patients gravitate to early adopter ECPs. As such, they aren’t deterred by slightly higher prices. Offering patients the newest in contact lens technology might not get you an Apple iPhone line outside your office, but conceptually, the idea is the same. Satisfied patients = long-term patients, and long-term patients generate more income and loyalty over time. This is Economics 101 and it’s been demonstrated hundreds of times. We’ve heard stories of people who paid hundreds of dollars for calculators in the seventies, but what about the stories of those who SOLD those calculators? They enjoyed a nice economic ride because they were among the first to offer “new technology.”
Check Your Opinion at the Door
A key point to winning and being first is that it is the patient, not the ECP, who ultimately decides if the race is even worth running. It is the patient who will determine if the added benefits of a new contact lens are worth the entrance fee to participate in the race. It is NOT and should not be the ECP’s place to decide this for the patient. Doing so will cost your practice thousands of dollars. Prejudging a patients’ desire to acquire and pay for new technology can be the costliest practice-building mistake you can make.
Your Trophy Awaits
The race is yours to win or lose. But to do either, you have to participate. And if you participate NOW, the odds of winning are astronomically high! CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering proven and comprehensive practice and profit building systems. You can reach him at www.PowerPractice.com and follow him on Twitter @PowerYourDream.