Occupational, workplace, computer, office. Whatever name you want to give to the second-pair eyewear optimized for the viewing distance used during the workday (arm’s length, the computer screen, or the whole office), they are important tools to help alleviate patients’ eye fatigue symptoms—and boost revenue.
Whether it’s occupational PALs that optimize specific working distances in the office or single-vision lenses with a slight accommodative add for computer or reading, these lenses provide the opportunity to serve patients while helping your bottom line.
Just ask Eric White, O.D., of Complete Family Vision Care Optometry in San Diego. Dr. White estimates that his practice brings in $250,000 in profit per year just on sales of occupational and computer/digital eyewear alone.
“This is real money. And my staff isn’t doing a whole lot of extra work,” he says. “And I’m not doing a whole lot of extra work. And my patients are happier.” »
EB sat down with Dr. White and his office administrator/optician (and wife), Lorie White, to share some of the strategies they so successfully employ at their practice.
BE AN INFORMATION CONVEYOR BELT.
The doctors and staff at Complete Family Vision Care Optometry are extremely successful in two cornerstones of optical dispensing: asking the right questions of patients (Desktop? Laptop? Whole office? Tablet?), and passing those visual needs and complaints on to the doctor and then from the doctor back out to the optical staff on the floor.
“Let’s be honest, patients don’t fill out those lifestyle questionnaires completely anyway, so we start talking to them in the pretest area about their chief complaints and how they use their eyes,” Lorie White says.
“And they don’t just stop at ‘do you use a computer?’” adds Dr. White. “I want to prescribe you the exact lenses that will allow you to do comfortably what you need to do all day.”
BONUS TIP—Doctor-Driven Dispensing: “After I do the refraction, that’s when Doctor-Driven Dispensing comes in,” says Dr. White, “and we go over exactly what I believe they need for how they use their eyes. It may not mean they end up buying it all, but it’s planted the seed. And it has let them know that I am listening to them and that I am resolving each of their chief vision complaints.”
WALK THE WALK.
If your staff believes in occupational and computer eyewear so much that they wear it themselves, patients are more likely to be receptive to the idea. Lorie White and the rest of the staff can speak personally about how they—with their individual office and computer needs—benefit from the specialty lenses.
BONUS TIP—Blue Light: Have the staff wear a variety of lens designs with blue-light-filtering treatments. There are many available today, and the visible tints vary from negligible to noticeable. Seeing it on a staff member will help reduce any dissatisfaction with the final product.
KNOWLEDGE IS (SALES) POWER.
Keeping staff up to date on trends and new lens designs doesn’t have to be a chore. Dr. White makes sure to take advantage of every lunch-and-learn session offered by his lens (and frame) vendors.
“I hear so many doctors say they don’t want to lose the staff time. My per-patient revenue is over $600. It’s worth the hour of time to us,” Dr. White says.
BONUS TIP—Info Sharing: Lorie White doubles down on the staff education by setting up a system so that every email from lens vendors with product information is passed throughout the entire staff. “Everyone gets the same product information,” she says.
LET THE SECRET OUT.
Many patients probably aren’t even aware of what an occupational PAL or SV computer lens can do for their vision and eye fatigue at work. So, tell them—even before they get to the exam room. Dr. White keeps the message active in his practice, with videos about the lenses playing in the waiting room, and plenty of pamphlets and POS materials.
BONUS TIP—Social Smarts: Keep these lenses in rotation in all your social media posting. Dr. White encourages patient engagement via Facebook, and he ensures the lenses get plenty of digital play there. Vendors have materials for you. Use them.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DISCOUNT.
Patients need a little incentive to go for that second pair of eyewear, and sweetening the deal often works. The Whites offer 20% off the second pair and 30% off the third pair purchased.
Because the practice gets a larger multiple-pair discount from the lab, the sale still results in profit.
BONUS TIP—Value Proposition: Offer an occupation/computer “package” with value frames (the patients are going to wear them only at their desk) and polycarbonate lenses to keep the price down. The Whites have a $120 package.
Dr. White’s success—especially with occupational and computer lenses—comes from a very simple mantra.
“Listen to what the patient needs, prescribe from the chair, and then follow through in the optical,” Dr. White says. “That’s how our office is successful, and that’s how we service our patients’ needs.”