Can you—and should you—bundle premium lens products? That’s what we asked two high-end, and highly successful, optometrists. And here they share their thoughts about packaging premium spectacle lenses.
David Ziegler, O.D., the founding partner of Ziegler Leffingwell Eye Care in Milwaukee, has been packaging high-end lenses since he started in practice 25 years ago. He’s also been speaking on the subject for nearly as long.
In Chicago, Chet Steinmetz, O.D., owner of Visual Effects, says across-the-board packaging is impossible with all the variables in lens prescriptions, materials, designs, coatings, etc. He does, however, present good, better, and best within each of those areas.
Here’s how each of them handles the business of bundling.
DR. ZIEGLER’s PACKAGING POINTERS
“We’ve always packaged premium lenses together to offer three packages,” states Dr. Ziegler. “It simplifies the buying process for the patient and helps them make better decisions.”
THE BASICS. “Start by deciding on your go-to material. Most practices agree polycarbonate is that material, and, when needed, you can go to high-index materials.”
THE MESSAGE. “Always talk about the lens as something they need—with the features and then benefits to back it up. Don’t just say the what (‘I want you to have anti-glare lenses’) unless you add the why (‘because they will help you drive better at night’).”
THE FLOW. “It starts in the exam room where the doctor basically says, ‘This is the lens you should have. This material will be appropriate for your prescription. And, you need this coating to cut glare.’ Then, in our practice, the doctor handwrites the recommendations on a brochure.”
THE PRESENTATION. “When the individual goes to the optical, the packages (three for single vision) are presented on iPads and counter cards. The optician explains what the doctor recommended, and it’s all right there.”
THE PRODUCT. “We bundle Essilor and Zeiss lenses. Currently, 90% of our PAL wearers get Essilor’s Ultimate Lens Package. It dovetailed so nicely with our concept of bundling that it was very simple to adopt.”
THE SELL. “Many doctors don’t understand how we can be at 100% AR penetration. The reason is simple: It’s all we offer. The other big reason something doesn’t sell is if doctors don’t recommend it in the exam room. That’s where it has to start!”
THE BOTTOM LINE. “Our revenue per patient is $700. That’s mostly because we always sell lenses in packages, so everyone has premium product and AR.
“To help other doctors, we’ve started a program where practices can come to our office for a day. They observe us seeing patients and bundling. We teach them how to do it and give them PDFs of our brochures and iPad packaging templates so they can build their own.”
DR. STEINMETZ’s TIER TIPS
“I have never packaged lenses,” explains Dr. Steinmetz. “There are too many features and too many options for me to simplify everything into packages.
“Every sale is unique,” he adds. “So, instead of across-the-board packaging, I look at all the components for that patient and then come up with good, better, best for each of the options—from lens thinness to lens coatings.”
POWER PLAY. “Take single vision. The first thing I want to know is the power, as that’s going to help determine frame selection—metal or plastic, along with the fashion aspect.”
HOW THIN? “This in turn will help determine material. The power of the prescription and the frame itself will determine how thin you can go. I present this in terms of good, better, best—regular, thin, superthin—and keep the discussion simple.”
PAL PICTURE. “For progressives, we have to discuss a lot of things—design, material, coatings, and potential treatments. We have a good, better, best for each.
“For thickness, we address the frame, the power, and then the lens (regular, thin, superthin). For design, we have standard and digital design. In digital, we have good, better, best.
“Then we move on to AR, where we have good, better, best, and superbest. The last thing I bring up is Transitions.”
LAYERS. “It’s all layers,” says Dr. Steinmetz. “I want to give them choices and have them involved in each decision. It’s a la carte for a reason.”
PRICE POINTS. “You’re looking at $500 for a frame, and, since I’m over 90% digital in progressives, you’re looking easily at a $500 lens when you add in AR (not including thin lens options). It’s always a la carte and good, better, best.”
David Ziegler, O.D., shares his guide to bundling premium lenses.
1. FRAME IT.
“Start building your packages by asking yourself which PAL is the best. Ask vendors for input, too.”
2. BUILD IT.
“Then, decide what material is best for all purposes. Should the lens have AR or blue blocking? Now you have the optimal lens.”
3. NOTCH IT.
“Determine what you think is good but less expensive, and you have your second layer. Take it down another notch and you have all three.”
4. LEARN IT.
“You can also attend classes or work with vendors. For example, if you like Essilor’s Ultimate Lens Package, which essentially bundles for you, that could be your top, and your rep could help design the others. They can also help you learn how the lenses work and what makes them better. You can’t explain it to patients until you understand it yourself.”