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    ODs’ top 4 gripes about vision care plans: Part 4—Competing with me for retail sales and patients


    Of all the big gripes with VCPs, this one strikes the deepest and elicits a raw emotion response from optometrists. While ODs have accepted a reduced fee for service for the exam, the movement of VCPs to also become suppliers of glasses and contact lenses is raising the level of concern.

    Consider these four ways to better retain patients and materials sales

    Four ways to retain patients

    1. Do not manage to the minority

    While the percentage and numbers may vary by your geographic location, the national numbers are what they are. According to The Vision Council, only about 18 percent of contact lens sales are online, and roughly 4 percent of glasses sales are online.

    As I tell many of my clients, stop worrying about the Internet and the minority of patients who want “only what the insurance covers.” Instead, concentrate on your office and your processes.  

    Related: ODs top 4 gripes about vision care plans: Part 2—Does it have to be this difficult?

    2. Set patient expectations

    You and your staff should have the mentality that everyone who comes to your office has a need and a problem to be solved. Concentrate on discovering the problem, which is often unstated and even unknown by the patient. 

    Once you do the work of solving the problem, your mentality should be that the patient is going to buy the solution from you. You must have specific processes in place to help the patient reach this conclusion and to make the purchase easy.  

    Use metrics to know how you are doing and to define the process. One key metric is capture rate. We define capture rate as the number of pairs of glasses that we sell per refraction. In other words, if we perform 100 refractions in a month and sell 75 pairs of glasses, then we have a capture rate of 75 percent. 

    Look at your current capture rate and set a target for growth. This will force you to look for ways to improve the process and increase capture rate. We have had a few months in which our capture rate exceeded 100 percent due to second pair and sunglasses sales. Remember that patients with VCPs tend to have some materials benefit, and it is up to you and your staff to create a value proposition that allows them to buy from you.

    Carl H. Spear, OD, MBA, FAAO
    Dr. Spear owns a multi-location group practice with his wife Dr. Katie Gilbert Spear in Pensacola, FL. Dr. Spear is commander of the ...


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