|P.O.G.’s products and pricing can help practices differentiate themselves.|
|COMPENSATED RX FORMS With as many tried-and-true techniques our patients have become accustomed to seeing at the dispensing table, it’s always nice to dazzle them with something new. While the prescription they came in with was written in +0.25D, many free-form labs can provide you with a compensated prescription to dispense with the eyeglasses. These algorithmic calculations take into account the position of wear of the eyewear and show the “as prescribed” Rx in +0.25D and the “as worn” prescription in +0.01D. This gives you the opportunity to explain the difference between the two, and potentially sell the patient on free-form lenses, which could earn you a patient for life.|
|Encore Optics, a Nikon partner lab, supplies a variety of quality free-form lenses that can help your practice grow.|
|Having a handout, like this one from Central One Optical, can show patients they are in a practice with its finger on the pulse.|
Free-form labs provide a variety of programs to ECPs to help improve their sales, business, and staff.
Remaining competitive with eye-glass lens sales has become trickier to manage over the past few years, mainly due to big box store strategies, and smoke-and-mirror pricing. Savvy eyecare professionals (ECPs) have had to learn how to think outside the box and use every resource they have to ensure their optical businesses continue to grow. ECPs, for example, can reach out to quality free-form labs and get onboard with a host of programs and other services they offer.
Free-form labs are in business to make money but they only grow when you grow. That’s why top- quality free-form labs will help you expand your business and will go to great lengths to do this.
Choosing to go free-form with your lens sales is the first step, and while many labs out there claim to supply quality free-form lenses, partnering with a lab that cannot produce accurate work in a speedy manner can potentially lose you optical business. Free-form lenses are no longer the next wave of the future, they’re here and the category is developing quickly, so taking the time to learn how your lab can help you grow your free-form lens sales will potentially earn you some extra trips to the bank.
While the digital age of online marketing has taken digital media by storm, there is still a need and demand for patient free-form lens brochures in waiting areas, the exam room, and at the dispensing table. Not every eyeglass wearer may already wear a pair of free-form lenses, or even know they exist. Having these small handouts available can help patients understand they are in a practice that has its finger on the pulse of the latest and best eyeglass lens technology. The best place to obtain many of these informative handouts is your free-form lab. Most have marketing departments and staff in place to help get you the necessary point-of-sale guides that will help boost sales for both of you. Don’t hesitate to give them a call and ask what they have available.
Depending on the lab, many offer multiple-pair discounts off the second and subsequent pairs of free-form lenses you order for the same patient (usually on the same day). Some labs offer as much as 50% off so this is one strategy you don’t want to miss out on. That kind of commitment to multiple-pair sales by a lab shows they really care about your profitability and will support you with impressive discounts like this. These savings can be used to help boost multiple-pair sales in the office by extending the discount to the patient, incentivizing the optician who sold the multiple pairs, or they could be kept internally to improve your profit margins. Classic examples of easy second pair free-form options to recommend are prescription sunglasses, occupational lenses for the computer/office, and a backup pair of eyeglasses. Just about everyone is a candidate for multiple eyewear so this can be a great way your free-form lab can help you improve your business.
With what seems to be an almost infinite amount of free-form lens manufacturers, brands, and styles on the market, many free-form labs are also focusing on developing private label free-form brands for you to present to your patients (see “Rising Demand for Private Label Lenses,” p. 90). This partnership could be a huge home run for you and your optical office.
Private brands help the lab keep their costs lower by not having to pay the higher expense of using a nationally recognized free-form lens brand, which means they can offer these lenses to you for less. Think about how cool it would be for you to offer lenses that no other optical office could offer. That’s what a free-form private label lens program can do for you and your free-form lab is where to get it. Thus far, highly successful practices have embraced private label free-form lenses as a way to differentiate themselves from their competition and to offer advanced lens technology for less. To drum up some extra pizzazz, you could even go so far as to trademark your brand of private label lens with a name of your choosing.
Regardless of the size of your optical staff, don’t hesitate to reach out to your free-form lab and ask if they offer professional development opportunities. Many successful free-form labs do. These often include educational pieces in their newsletter, articles written online, videos, CE courses, and live presentations. The online option is great because staff can access them anytime, day or night. Ask your free-form lab to recommend the materials your staff should review in order to get up to speed on the technical and sales aspects of free-form lenses.
Live events are fun and educational. They are usually done at your office but could also take place at the lab or at a local restaurant in a private room. In addition, these learning opportunities are a great chance to boost morale, work on team building, and maybe even have a great meal. Having the educational session at the lab has the added benefit of letting your staff see how free-form lenses are produced and how your lab works to turn out a quality product, usually in less than one day.
While free-form private label lenses may not be your premium primary lens of choice, having other free-form price alternatives can help you create a tiered pricing structure of lens options and boost sales from those patients who are simply shopping on price alone.
All of these services cost your lab money. So why do they do it? To earn your business. That means they expect your business and your loyalty. Keep this in mind as you enter into one of these arrangements. Find a free-form lab you feel can offer you the best strategies for growing your business. Then, support that lab heavily. It’s how the two of you will grow.
Francis Gimbel, Jr. is a licensed optician, and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Central One Optical
800-322-6678 • centraloptical.com
Encore Optics, LLC
860-282-0082 • nikonlenswear.us
Precision Optical Group (P.O.G. Labs)
800-497-9239 • precisionopticalgroup.com