Utilizing Contact Lens Vendor Rebates and Promotions
There are times when companies supply rebates or promotional items that can be offered to our patients that purchase contact lenses. What are the best ways to utilize these promotional programs and who should present them to the patient?
I will share with you some best practices I have learned from talking to ECPs in my travels around the country. Implement the ones that make sense to you in your practice as they seem appropriate.
There really isn’t a down side to employing promotions in your practice, however, if promotions are underutilized you may lose out on opportunity for your practice and your patients. For example, rebates are frequently offered with the purchase of contact lenses. We know from research that not every patient will do the work to send in the rebates to which they are entitled, however it is still a wonderful way to give them the chance to save money. The ECP helps build loyalty and trust in the eyes of the patient by demonstrating that we are always looking out for the patient’s best interest.
Rebates and promotions that are tied to an annual supply purchase can be a great way to encourage patient compliance as well. Patients that buy an annual supply are more compliant with contact lens replacement schedules and annual eye health evaluations because they have the correct amount of lenses readily available.
Begin by making certain everyone on the team is familiar with the rebate programs available. Create a spreadsheet/program for the computer that staff can use to calculate the savings to the patient quickly and also use as a tool to educate your patients. If a spreadsheet is not an option for you, create a laminated worksheet that can be reused, allowing staff to calculate the patient savings with rebate programs.
The key to greater utilization is to tell patients about rebates before the doctor begins the exam. Look up the patient’s information about prior year’s purchase habits and let them know the range of rebates available to them. “Mrs. Jasper, the doctor is looking forward to seeing you today. Before we get started I wanted to let you know the good news that there is a promotion on the contact lenses you have been wearing that gives you back up to $100 when you buy all your boxes for the year today. We will be sure to explain the process to ensure you receive your maximum rebate after the doctor finalizes your prescription.”
In some cases vendors offer promotions that involve special pricing of cosmetic lenses with a purchase of clear lenses. Follow the same process outlined above with this promotion as well. Staff should tell your patients about the promotion ahead of time and give them a brochure with the color options or a way to do a virtual try on of the colors while waiting for their exam. This creates interest in the lenses and, if it is a part of your regular process, it will help the doctors to follow this up with discussion of the rebate/promotion in the exam room.
Promotions always work better when they are introduced to the patient early in the experience. Patients are in your office to buy and expect the best care, best prescription and best service available. Utilizing available promotions in conjunction with the lens that is best for our patients does just that.
April Jasper, OD, FAAO has a private practice in West Palm Beach, Florida. She serves on several Advisory boards including VSP, Vision Source, Allergan and Alcon. Dr. Jasper is Benedict Professor in practice management at Houston College of Optometry. Her passion is sharing with her colleagues in areas of practice management and technology in an effort to help them become more successful in patient care and personal growth.