DISCOVER YOUR NICHE!

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Hilco’s Leader Rxable Swim Goggle is designed to accommodate virtually any prescription.
Noir color filters, distributed by Mattingly Low Vision, can be used for clinical, engineering, and low vision applications.
A KNOCK-OUT WEBSITE Helping a patient reach your practice may be easier than you think. Many are often searching the web for a local optical store and by creating a knock-out website, you can help launch your optical lens business. Doing so no longer costs thousands of dollars. In just a few hours you can create some web content, page listings, and add a few digital pictures of your office. You could have a completely turnkey website up and running in an afternoon.
RESEARCH YOUR MARKET Take the time to survey your area for prospective optical products to offer. This is simply a supply-and-demand snapshot of what optional items you could begin carrying that are not presently offered by a competitor. A good place to start is to check out special interest organizations and activity clubs in your area such as those geared to skiing, biking, boating, scuba, etc. Often these groups require specialty gear, including eyeglasses and goggles to gain the most out of their activities. These groups are good targets to advertise your custom lens capabilities. Start marketing to them-soon you could become their lens specialist and eyewear gear place of choice.
This flip-down Donegan loupe, distributed by Mattingly Low Vision, can have a glass light attached to the outside of the lens.

Finding specialty lenses and marketing them to a diverse set of patients can be lucrative.

Finding new opportunities to boost optical sales can be tough. While cutting-edge free-form lenses continue to evolve, many ECPs have already embraced this technology and are marketing their merits in print, through social media, and on the web. Deciding to take a chance by offering and advertising a few “outside the box” custom optical goods may sound like a gamble, but done correctly, they could help you attract a totally new crop of extremely loyal patients. Not every ECP is pushing this niche, and while this market may be unique for them, it can also be very lucrative. Here’s what some of your ECP colleagues are doing with custom lens products.

LOUPES AND LEAD LENSES
A savvy optical marketing idea is to seek out medical professionals who work in the surgery and radiology fields. Surgeons often require magnification loupes to see precisely while they operate, and in some cases radiologists need to wear special lead protective lenses in their eyeglasses to shield their eyes from harmful radiation. While both of these segments could be small for your region, the optical goods needed by them can retail for a pretty penny and their cost is easily justified by the medical professionals requiring them.

Paul Kohan, general manager of the Philadelphia Eye Glass Labs, City Center, Philadelphia, PA, mentions that: “By having so many hospitals and medical teaching institutions near our main optical location, we advertise directly to them so that we can order and sell their next pair of surgical aids and make lead lenses for radiologists. Doing so sets us apart from our competition, makes us different from every other optical store, and potentially allows us to also sell them a dress pair when dispensing.”

GOGGLES AND MASKS
Active swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling fans can easily appreciate the value of having a good pair of goggles for the water. Choosing to carry and advertise these niche goods is an ideal way to boost sales and promote your firm. Many of these water enthusiasts require prescriptions in their eyeglasses. They can also provide your practice with the opportunity to make their next pair. There are mass-produced prescription and goggle options available and these kind of optical goods can be found online, in catalogs, and at local dive shops. What makes this segment unique is that the prescription versions are often made in sphere power only, accounting for the wearer’s single vision prescription.

“While they may help a good portion of the wearers, let’s think about the ones that have very different prescriptions in each eye, require an astigmatism correction, or need a bifocal to get the most out of their swim and dive time,” says Yoram Friedman, OD at Family Vision Center, Somerville, NJ. “This is where we, as optical ECPs, can shine and make their vision experience perfect under the water.” He believes in having a vast array of goods, including swim goggles and dive masks, to meet the demands of every patient who may call or walk through his door. He says it’s a good idea to keep a stock of masks and goggles displayed in your optical shop. Even potential buyers may not need corrective lenses so keeping them on hand can help you earn additional revenue by selling plano options.

LOW VISION
Another idea is to advertise your lens capabilities to local ophthalmologists who prescribe distinctive products for low vision and therapeutic filters. This can open the door to numerous opportunities for your store and create tremendous referral relationships. It helps to contact these doctors so they can let their patients know they have a trusted and reputable optical store that can fill their custom lens requirements. While it’s important to learn about technical niche items like low vision aids, and low vision filter colors, and how they can block specific wavelengths of light, it’s just as important to have samples on hand. These can go a long way in making a new client feel at ease and help them understand the details of the prescribed filter and its capabilities.

ADVERTISING
Regardless of the custom lenses your optical shop selects to promote, there are many ways to publicly advertise that your location has them. The tried-and-true method of print advertising can reach the masses if you send out postcards, mailers, and even take out some ad space in your local newspaper or town newsletter. Other more advanced methods include creating a Facebook and/or Twitter account that allows for your patients to sign up to your page and follow all of your new lens advertisement postings in real-time. Maria Moody from Moody Eyes, Indianapolis, IN, does an excellent job posting updates, pictures, and patient information about new events and lens technologies on her social media pages.

WEB BLOG
Other techniques include creating an ongoing web blog or website page that has a “what’s new in our optical” section to list all the new custom optical lens developments. You might also go as far as to purchase some search engine optimization service to help steer patients who are looking for these goods to your optical store. Another way is to set up an account with an advertising firm that uses ad words and charges you a click fee every time a potential patient searches for this word online in your area. If you choose to go this route, you can ultimately set up an account with a capped dollar limit on your ad words per day.

Carrying and marketing custom lenses is a good way to enhance your professional image and increase your profitability. Marketing this aspect of your business is key to making it successful.

Francis Gimbel, Jr. is a licensed optician and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Hilco
800-955-6544 • hilco.com

Mattingly Low Vision, Inc.
888-642-0842 • mattinglylowvision.com

Moody Eyes
317-883-1122 • moodyeyes.com

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