Becoming Penny Wise But Not Pound Foolish
Creative strategies to save patients money on contact lenses and other related supplies.
In these tough economic times, patients are looking for ways to save money – yet keep their eyes healthy. To save a few pennies, patients may think they need to make sacrifices when it comes to wearing contact lenses. But some practices are finding creative ways to help them save on the lenses they want and you can, too. Here are three strategies you and the optometrists you work with can consider:
1. Annual supplies. One strategy to maximize savings for patients is to suggest they purchase annual supplies of contact lenses. Jason R. Miller, OD, MBA, partner at EyeCare Professionals of Powell in Powell, Ohio, takes this approach.
|"We heavily promote annual supplies of contact lenses. Selling patients an annual supply saves them time because the supplier delivers the lenses straight to their doorsteps at no extra charge."
— Jason R. Miller, OD, MBA
"We heavily promote annual supplies of contact lenses. Selling patients an annual supply saves them time because the supplier delivers the lenses straight to their doorsteps at no extra charge. We also save them money by controlling our costs and offering the lenses at market price along with rebates just for annual supplies," Dr. Miller says. "Annual supplies also save money for the practice in terms of staff time. Whenever patients request contact lenses, we'd normally have to pull their charts, make sure they've had a recent exam so the prescription is current, jot down the payment information and place the order. We prefer to do that only once a year."
|"I Don't Want an Annual Supply."|
|Annual supplies save patients money, but sometimes patients don't buy into the idea. Here are some common objections to purchasing a yearly supply of contact lenses and what to say that could change their minds:|
■ "I don't want to pay for my lenses all at once." Explain to patients that it actually costs less to buy their contact lenses in bulk because they pay less per box. Plus, they won't have to reorder lenses for an entire year.
■ "My prescription changes too much." Dr. Miller tells patients who have changing prescriptions that, "Our supplier will ship the boxes to you with ‘right’ and ‘left’ stickers on the boxes. We suggest you not write on the boxes or open them so we can exchange the unopened boxes at no extra charge and still give you the annual-supply rate."
■ "I try to wear my lenses for longer periods so that I use fewer of them." Explain to patients how important it is to stick to the contact lens replacement schedule to ensure their eyes stay healthy. "By wearing lenses longer than recommended," Dr. Miller explains, "people increase their risk of corneal infections."
2. Rebates. Contact lens rebates are a great way to save patients money, and they're an important tool in selling annual supplies. Patients can download rebate coupons online, although it's best for employees to keep them in the office to distribute to patients. Rebates typically offer greater savings the more boxes patients' buy, so they're particularly useful in practices that sell annual supplies. What's more, some manufacturer rebates offset fitting fees associated with prescribing their lenses.
Dr. Miller says his employees use tear-off coupon pads for solutions and place rebate coupons in sample kits that include free samples of their solutions. "This helps patients save money and gives them an extra incentive to buy the solution we've prescribed for their specific type of contact lens," he says.
3. Promotions. Promotions like holiday specials, gift certificates for annual supplies and eye exams, or contact lenses bundled with spectacles or solutions provide great savings to patients.
Dr. Miller offers several promotions. "We provide a savings on eyeglasses as an incentive for contact lens wearers to update their back-up pair of eyeglasses, but it can be hard to bundle them because lens and frame prices vary so much," he says. "We also have offered holiday gift packages in the past. The gift packages include a gift certificate for contact lenses or sunglasses and a starter kit of contact lens solution. This can be used as a nice holiday gift promotion for teens."
|Patients and staff can go to CooperVision.com, click on "New Rebates," and download a contact lens rebate coupon.|
Together, these three strategies can help eyecare practices like yours save patients money on contact lenses. So even when times are tough, patients can wear the lenses they enjoy and receive a few extras without breaking the bank. ■