By Jay Binkowitz and Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, dba Contributors
The explanation of ophthalmic lenses along with fees has been and continues to be one of the greatest challenges we face, especially as it relates to vision care plans. We tend to go with complex explanations of features and benefits along with "billing language" to explain each "add-on," (a term we dislike), in a way that results in severe patient pushback and lost sales. Billing language is an antagonistic way of beating up our customers with TMI (too much information) in order for us to be able to say we told them everything...whether they wanted to hear it or not. Most of the time it is not.
"Billing language" occurs because that is the way we enter the information into our software system in order to bill the vision plans, but that is not the way we should speak to or explain products, services and fees to patients. Because we do this for our vision plan patients we also abuse our private pay patients the same way.
For example, we might say something like, "That antireflective coating we talked about will cost you x dollars more, and those lenses that get darker, but not in the car, will cost you x dollars more, and the new digital lenses are more expensive, but they are worth it, and they will cost you x dollars more. Do you want them?" The more you say more the less they want more!
Customers do not want to be spoken to in billing language. They want the warm and fuzzies that come with simplicity, not the 20-year-old "good, better, best" presentation or its younger cousin, "best, better, good." These are long gone.
Worse yet is when we say, "Have a seat while I figure that out." Ouch! That is a red flag that starts your customer wondering, "Do you know how to figure that out?" or worse yet "Do you even know what you are doing?" You should not have to "figure" anything out. You should simply be able to answer the question without TMI. That's bundling.
When you walked into a car dealership 15 years ago, you had a very different experience than today. Each option had an additional cost. If you wanted a CD player there was an extra fee, if you wanted leather seats there was an extra fee, if you wanted heated seats there was an extra fee, and so on. You got anxious every time the salesperson picked up the calculator. Your teeth clenched and your face turned red because you knew there was another cost for each number typed into that calculator.
Today's experience is different. Cars come with a variety of options built into one price, and they always let you know how much the package saved you, all to create a friendlier and more satisfying experience while buying a car.
With bundling, ophthalmic lenses can be one of the most profitable parts of your optical business. With bundling, we generated over $250,000 in only three months for a 10-location practice and $85,000 net profit over the course of a year for a two-location practice. With bundling, any size business benefits!
The way bundled packages work is simple. Make a list that consolidates the lenses and add-ons you recommend. For example: high definition (HD) digital progressives, polycarbonate, premium non-glare, UV, scratch, edge polish. These lenses are valued at $563. For patients without a vision care plan, reduce the lenses to $459, for example. For those patients with a vision care plan, for example with a discount of 30%, start the discount from the $563 list price, not the $459 package price. This adds $72 to overall net profitability at the close of the transaction. (See chart and scripts below for patients with and without a vision care plan.)
The average five-location practice selling 150 progressives per month has the potential of $10,800 additional net profit per month, from that one concept alone. Combined with selling more AR and thinner lenses due to product presentation, your sales and profits will add up quickly.
Here's an example of a possible script for promoting bundling: "Dr. Smith has prescribed our progressive lenses for you today. I want you to know that we only use premium products to assure you receive clear and comfortable vision. Would you agree that clear and comfortable vision is your goal today? Of course.
In addition to making sure all of our patients receive great quality products, we also have wonderful packages to bring you great value.
Our HD digital lenses are the very best. This is the difference between the old tube TV's and the new LCD flat screen TV's. The clarity of vision is wonderful. Our lenses come with premium non-glare protection. When you are driving at night they will make everything you see brighter, especially on those dark, rainy nights. When you are using your computer or reading it will reduce your eye fatigue. Our patients also tell us how it reduces eye burning and headaches.
HD digital lenses also come with Transitions. So when you are outside they will automatically darken and protect your eyes from the sun. It's great to have a built-in pair of sunglasses that you can rely on. To make sure you have full protection from the harmful rays of the sun, our lenses come with UV protection. Of course, they also come with scratch protection and polished edges, and they are thin and light to make sure they look nice and feel good. I know you will really enjoy them over the next year or two."
For patients without vision care plans, conclude with, "The regular cost is x dollars, but we have it all packaged for you at x dollars. That is a savings of $110. We really want to make sure you have what you need."
For patients with vision care plans, conclude with, "You have XYZ Vision Plan, so your final cost is x dollars. That is a tremendous savings. You have a great plan!"
This entire process should take only about two minutes, not the 20 minutes it does now. Create your own scripting and prepackaged bundles based on the vision care plans you see the most, and implement this new strategy with goals and staff accountability. Have your staff practice this script with you and each other. Create simple, postcard-size templates that have the bundles listed on them so your staff can quickly and easily answer your customers' questions without angst or TMI.
When you simplify, you reduce staff confusion, patient pushback and lost sales. Ultimately, with bundling, you increase profits.
Jay Binkowitz, optometric business consultant, is chief executive officer and president of
GPN, exclusive provider of The EDGE.
Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, is chief information officer of
GPN, Exclusive Provider of The EDGE. Contact Jay and Evan directly at
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