|Free-form lenses are created using intricate equipment, like that offered by Coburn’s new True-Form System.|
Here’s how some successful practices have implemented sales techniques in order to grow their free-form sales.
Free-form lenses are no longer newborns to our industry, but are rather in their toddler years. While some practices are still learning the benefits of this technology, others have made them a focal point of their lens recommendations. There are some sales techniques that successful practices have implemented to substantially grow their free-form sales. Here’s what they do.
There are distinct differences between traditionally designed lenses and free-form lenses, and it’s important to understand the differences in order to sell them successfully. A good lens or laboratory representative can help educate staff members in several ways. Some practices have regular visits from their reps where they offer a new presentation technique or support materials such as pamphlets, dispensing mats, or script ideas.
Lens manufacturers such as Shamir Insight Inc., HOYA VISION CARE, North America, Augen Optics, and Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. conduct meetings to educate dispensers about new free-form products. Michael Williams, an optician at Valley Eye Care in Corvallis, OR, commented, “I went to a seminar in Portland and came back very enthused with the newest technology. I’m sure I sold my first pair of free-form lenses the very next day.” Labs like Expert Optics Inc., Luzerne Optical Laboratories Ltd., Rite-Style Optical Co. and US Optical provide this kind of training too.
|TRACK RECORD While bonuses should never be used to move a product, once a lens has a proven track record in your office, they are an acceptable way to motivate staff members and increase their level of commitment to present free-form lenses to every patient. Tom Cox, LDO, President of National Optical in Roanoke, VA, noted that “increasing sales benefits not only the practice, but also the individual who works so hard for the practice. With raises not being as common in today’s economy, it’s nice to reward our employees for their efforts in helping our bottom line to increase.”|
One of the best ways to help dispensers become educated and excited is through regular staff meetings. In these meetings, staff can share their successes with dispensing free-form lenses, which patients they find are best served by the new technology, and offer tips for presentation and fitting to less seasoned dispensers.
Joni Schrup, ABOC, owner of Discerning Eye in Iowa City, IA, finds staff meetings to be one of her best tools in creating success. Schrup’s practice is located in a college town and her patients tend to be highly educated and ask a lot of questions. She does role playing with her dispensers so they become comfortable with potential questions and are prepared to explain free-form lens benefits to patients. She also finds it a great time to share success stories to encourage free-form sales. A recent example of this was a patient who ordered her first pair of single vision free-form lenses in the same prescription as her old pair. The patient was positive that the prescription had changed because her vision was so much more improved over her older pair. Scenarios like these give confidence to dispensers and help them believe in the product they are presenting.
There’s an old adage in the sales world—if the patient doesn’t know you have it, they won’t buy it. Several practices are committed to letting their patients know all about free-form lenses. Frank Gimbel, ABOC, owner of Gimbel Eye Asso- ciates in Wayne, PA, believes: “An educated patient is the most loyal and easy to work with.” That’s why he has devoted a section of his Web site to introducing free-form lenses so they become familiar with them even before they come to his office.
|Shamir conducts meetings to educate dispensers about its new free-form products, such
as Shamir FirstPAL.
On the site, visitors are introduced to the latest free-form lens technology and benefits. This plants the seed that they will be offered a free-form lens during their visit and lets them formulate questions before their visit. Several of the practices I spoke with utilize various forms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to introduce these technically superior products to patients. They understand that patients who spend a great deal of time utilizing technology in their everyday lives also tend to use it in other areas of their lives. Listen to the rest of Gimbel’s comments at TotallyOptical.com/podcasts.
Knowing your demographics is extremely important when it comes to spending your marketing budget wisely. While some practices have moved toward social media, others are discovering that traditional marketing techniques work well for them. Tom Cox, LDO, President of National Optical in Roanoke, VA, has done his research and knows his community has one of the highest readership statistics per capita—one of the top 10 in the nation. This fact led him to invest marketing dollars in print media, such as newspaper inserts, that tout the availability of free-form lenses. These inserts introduce these products, give some brief education about their benefits, and invite the reader to take action by visiting his practice.
|TOTAL PRICE Presenting a total price for an eyewear purchase is often better received by a patient than continually adding on upgrades. When patients see a price jump up and up, they are inclined to push back and may feel like they are being “sold” instead of being offered the best solution. Also, some practices offer a discount to first-time wearers as an act of good faith that they will truly enjoy their free-form lenses. Dispensers bank on the wearer’s experience being so successful that the patient will pay full price for it during future purchases.|
Free-form lenses are technically superior to traditional lens designs and are created using intricate software and equipment, like that offered by Coburn Technologies Inc. The innovations of free-form lens technology also have a lot of lofty technical terms only eyecare professionals (ECPs) understand.
|Labs like Rite-Style provide training to ECPs about free-form lenses.|
|Augen offers practices presentation techniques such as a high-definition lens display.|
That’s why successful practices encourage dispensers to use simple terms when presenting these lenses. Patients generally do not understand prescription optimization but they can understand the comparison to high-definition television or the number of pixels used to create a digital photo. These are comparisons that are better understood and create a mental picture for the patient. When dispensers explain benefits, it helps the patient understand the value of their purchase. When you directly relate the wearer’s eyewear desires and expectations and how the lens will address them, it creates value and reduces push back regarding extra cost.
Cox noted, “We present benefits, but don’t overshoot expectations. This gives the patient a good idea of what to expect with their new lenses, and they are usually pleasantly surprised that they are even better than we described. Because we focus on presenting our lenses this way, we only have about a 1% non-adapt rate for our practice.”
When a staff member wears free-form lenses, it creates a level of comfort for them because they have experienced the benefits and can now explain how these lenses work based on their experiences. Practices that provide complimentary free-form lenses to staff members typically receive a handsome return on investment as employees telling patients how much they love their eyewear and wouldn’t wear anything else.
Not only can staff testimonials be beneficial, so can a patient’s testimonial. Barry Santini, LDO, ABOM, co-owner of Long Island Opticians in Seaford, NY, mentioned: “There are times I am presenting free-form lens options to a patient and explaining the benefits. Without provocation, a current free-form lens wearer sitting in the dispensary will chime in about their successful wearing experience and encourage the patient to make the change to these lenses.”
In addition, Santini shared success stories of patients who have switched from traditional single vision lenses to free-form single vision lenses. He is making a concerted effort to dispense these lenses and often uses examples of contact lens wearers who have opted to purchase premium single vision lenses who comment that their vision is more like it was when wearing contacts.
Madeline Kruhsberg, LDO, ABOM and owner of Optique of Denver in Denver, CO, made a commitment in her practice to only offer free-form lenses. She believes that patients deserve the very best, and for her, that translates to free-form lenses. The frames in her dispensary range from $350 to $400 and she feels that putting a standard lens in a high-quality frame is a disservice to the wearer. According to Kruhsberg, “frames enhance the look of the patient, but the lens is what really makes them see.” She also feels that frames are very tangible, while the lens benefits are harder for patients to understand and value. That’s why she is very particular about how lenses are presented and described. “When done properly, “price is not an objection,” suggested Kruhsberg.
These tips can aid you in significantly increasing free-form lens sales. Implementing even a few of them can get you started quickly and effectively on the road to increased profitability.
Joy L. Gibb is the owner of Eyes of Joy Mobile Optical in Woods Cross, UT.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
800-905-2240 ext. 1006 • augenoptics.com
Coburn Technologies Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 1016 • coburntechnologies.com
Expert Optics Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 1021 • expertoptics.net
HOYA VISION CARE, North America
800-905-2240 ext. 1024 • hoyavision.com
Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd.
800-905-2240 ext. 1034 • luzerneoptical.com
Rite-Style Optical Co.
800-905-2240 ext. 1056 • ritestyle.com
Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 1061 • seikoeyewear.com
Shamir Insight, Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 1063 • shamirlens.com
800-905-2240 ext. 1070 • usoptical.com