Accessories: The often secret revenue builder

December 15, 2005

As eye-care professionals, we recognize the revenue generated from exams, surgeries, contact lenses, eyewear, and other ophthalmic services but fail to understand the value of accessories as revenue-generating products in our practices. Whether it's cleaning cloths in eggshell, jeweled eyeglass cases, or lens cleaners in different fragrances, accessories are hot, as you can see by simply dropping into your local department store, whether it's high end or mass merchandising. Eye-care and eyewear accessories are everywhere—except, perhaps, in many of our professional ophthalmic practices.

The importance of accessories

How can we tap into this profitable market? The key to selling accessories successfully lies in understanding the value of accessories ourselves, and then ensuring that the patient/customer understands the value as well and desires ownership.

Repair kits, cleaners, cloths

Eyeglass cleaners can be positioned for stand-alone sales or combined with cleaning cloths. There are liquid cleaners that combat fogging; most are safe for use on anti-reflective coatings, and some have fragrances. Cloths can be of various materials. Microfiber cloths are ultra-fine fibers that can measure only 0.0006 mm in diameter, being 10 times finer than silk, 30 times finer than cotton, 40 times finer than wool, and 100 times finer than human hair. They can be woven or knitted.

Ensure that you understand the product yourself first and then explain to your patients how to use it. For example, cleaning cloths can actually cause damage to eyewear, if they have become dirty. Again, include your practice name on the cleaner and cloths. That way, you may choose to give them away or sell them.

Optical jewelry-eye candy

Optical jewelry is not only for the ophthalmic practice, because patients want it as well. Displayed appropriately in your practice, these exciting accessories can be huge profit makers, particularly around various holidays. They include eyeglass holder pins and pendant magnifiers that come in glamorous gold, silver, and rhinestone versions and are certainly a stylish addition to any wardrobe, while providing a practical benefit to the wearer.

Eyeglass retainers

Eyeglass retainers can include the standard sport cords or more advanced technology. People purchase technology. SunCepts Inc. offers several multipurpose products, including the Hides brand Classic and Hides TechnoSkin. Both products are a combination cord, case, and cleaning cloth, but the TechnoSkin also has interchangeable clips so that its cord can be shortened for a more secure fit while playing sports. Additionally, Hides H2O product has the same interchangeable clips as the TechnoSkin, but the case section is made from neoprene so that it can float in water.

Chains and other eyeglass retainers have certainly become hot items. Styles include handmade glass beads, gems, stones, as well as various metals and plastic chains. For instance, Franel Optical Supply Co. offers Daniel Swarovski crystals on some of its chain collections. Talk about desirable! Some manufacturers offer sports cords made from exotic materials, such as EK Ekcessories, which uses camel bone for the slide adjuster and accents in its Tribal Series. In keeping with the active lifestyle of patients, OptiSource International offers its Opti-Strap Neoprene Thick Sports Retainers that also stay afloat.

Lanyards can be imprinted as well. Some hug the temple and others use elastic grips that slide onto the temple end.