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    Glasses and contact lenses: Have they become a commodity?

     

    The changing times has required our financial models to shift. My grandfather never charged for contact lenses services—instead, he made his money off the sale of the products purchased.

    In a world where patients have the choice (the Internet and big-box stores didn’t exist 50 years ago) to purchase elsewhere, our method of value has shifted from a product revenue/service-for-free model to a service and product revenue model.

    Many ODs place their intent on creating the revenue from a mix. However, the costs of our products (that are the same products at big-box and online retailers) is usually higher than the patient can get elsewhere. I have spoken to many ODs who grow frustrated when their patients leave and buy contact lenses elsewhere.

    Related: How patient care resembles parenting

    Adjust your approach

    Our practices have shifted, and many of us have become deranged into thinking that we are unique and sell products that are overtly different than our competitors.

    Let me fill you in on a little secret.

    Your patients do not search you out for having different products. They are seeing you because they have always seen you, or they are seeing you because you stand apart.

    Patients will continue to see you as different if you share the benefits of one commodity over another. They will buy commoditized products from you if you provide them value in other areas so they see no point in looking elsewhere.

    My suggestions are to consider increasing your service cost/value and set your products at a price that makes it nearly impossible for your patients to leave.

    Such a move brings about several advantages, such as:

    • Helps you know that your patients are getting the products they deserve

    • Reduces the number of call backs for prescriptions or complaints for non-prescribed products

    •  Brings in additional revenue

    Sell the best thing you have going for you—you. 

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    David Kading, OD, FAAO, FCLSA
    Dr. Kading owns a two-location, three-doctor practice in Seattle. He specializes in dry eye and contact lenses with an emphasis on ...
    Mile Brujic, OD, FAAO
    Dr. Mile Brujic practices in Bowling Green, OH. He also owns Optometric Insights, a service providing career coaching to optometrists.

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