contact lens economics
Color Your Practice with Cosmetic Contact Lenses
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Cosmetic contact lenses are making a comeback. More comfortable designs and a new spectrum of colors are sprouting up all over. There's no question that more patients than ever before will be interested in the latest offerings. Yet, even the largest practices often struggle with attempting to integrate this segment of contact lenses into their practices. Let's look at the reasons why and then explore ways to help them.
Cosmetic or Clear?
The biggest obstacle to building your cosmetic lens business is the industry terminology we've already accepted. Because cosmetic lenses were developed after clear lenses, we now view clears or colors as an "either/or" situation instead of an "and" proposition. Think of how different your cosmetic lens business would be if boxes of lenses were pre-packaged with half clear lenses and half cosmetic. Well, lenses are not packaged this way (at least not yet) so try presenting lenses to patients this way.
"Would you like your next supply of lenses sent to your home or office?"
"We'll send two boxes of clear lenses and two of colors. Which color did you want?"
So Many Lenses, So Little Time
That idea works until the patient asks to try on all the colors. When you dispense eyeglasses, do patients try on every frame? (Let's talk about most patients, not those on the extreme ends of the bell curve.) Just as you probably already take charge during a frame selection, you need to lead the way when it comes to helping patients choose their cosmetic lenses.
Here's how not to present the lenses to patients: Your technician pulls out three different colors and asks the patient, "Which one do you like?"
With this presentation, you are begging the patient to try on all three colors. Instead, use a technique I use with clients that is often used in some well-run department stores. With the three colors in front of the patient, ask him the opposite question, "Which color don't you like?" Presented this way, you position the patient to choose two colors, not one. This makes the decision process easier and faster, especially after you put one color on each eye.
Lots of Time, Little Money
It seems like we might spend inordinate amounts of time presenting cosmetic contact lenses, yet yield a very small incremental profit. Generally speaking this isn't correct. For the most part, cosmetic lenses cost patients more and generate a higher profit. And, once patients choose a color, they rarely change colors on subsequent visits. Any extra time spent happens only at the first visit.
One last technique: trial fit patients who don't even ask about cosmetic lenses with a different color on each eye. That way, once the lenses are on and the fit evaluated, you will be reminded to talk about the lenses. You only need to ask your soon-to-be-surprised patients, "Which eye color do you like better, your right eye or your left?"
With consumer advertising and awareness of cosmetic contact lenses on the rise, astute practitioners should start to focus on this important practice building modality and plan on seamlessly integrating it into their practices.
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 DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.