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One practice explains how it has made the commitment to free-form lenses.
With free-form lenses rapidly becoming our industry’s standard, many optical offices, are making the switch and selling a high percentage of these lenses. To find out how one practice excels at this, I spoke to Patti Galko, ABOC, director of retail operations at North Eastern Eye Institute in Scranton, PA.
Galko insists on education for the entire office including the doctors, and sets high, but realistic, sales goals for the team and each individual. “It’s not magical, it is a very logical approach,” she suggests.
As director of retail operations, Galko manages a product portfolio of selected lenses and some of the lens education focuses on the differences in various free-form lens designs and identifying the pros and cons of the portfolio lenses and why they were chosen. She explains how the portfolio lenses differ from nationally advertised lenses or from those sold by local competitors. Staff learns who the lens would suit best based on lifestyle assessments, patient expectations, and prescriptions. Galko highlights the good, better, and best lens options so ECPs can help each patient find the lens that fits their budget. She explains that, “a lens in the portfolio must have a great design that offers great optics. It will generate patient satisfaction and fit into managed vision care plans.”
Above all, the staff is trained to sell lenses according to what is best for the patient. Galko stresses that the only way to do that is to understand the lens options available for each lens.
North Eastern Eye Institute also views its lens manufacturer and lab representatives as partners and relies on them to assist in providing education. They help the team to use scripted message points to highlight lens benefits. In addition, they work on building confidence in presentation skills. “Confidence is critical to any sales person, but particularly to those selling premium products,” notes Galko. “A patient can tell when confidence is lacking.” Some team members also learn how to explain products and their benefits, not pre-judging what a patient does or doesn’t want.
Galko also relies on her reps to provide lens marketing materials, signage, brochures, and videos. They use these and on-hold messaging as internal marketing tools. Staff is encouraged to send patients out the door with brochures providing additional information about their purchase and helping to reaffirm the value of it.
If a dispenser experiences push-back about cost from a patient, Galko says they are trained extensively on how to handle this situation. Staff meetings include training on how to explain the differences among lens options and the way in which newer technology can improve the patient’s vision.
Another key to success is to set high, but attainable, goals-for example, Galko’s team aims to have 65% of its lens sales be premium free-form designs this year. On a weekly basis, sales and remake statistics are reviewed and areas of success and weaknesses are identified. This allows opportunities for discussion and training, either individually or during staff meetings. Galko asserts that by adding a level of accountability to the sales process everyone is motivated to do better.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
When a new product comes out, launch meetings are held to educate team members and follow-up training is done in individual stores with smaller groups of dispensers, doctors, and support staff.
Galko’s advice is: “Keep it simple. You don’t need dozens of designs in your portfolio, but you do need to make sure everyone on the team is well versed in designs, materials, and cost.”
Taking time to train and educate staff and patients can make a huge difference in how successful you are in dispensing free-form design lenses. Not only can it improve your bottom line, it can also improve your patient’s vision and your reputation as the place to come to when patients want the best.
Joy L. Gibb is an optician at Daynes Eye and Lasik in Bountiful, UT.