How to sell sunwear successfully in ophthalmic clinics

January 1, 2015

Breaking down various advice and hints for ophthalmologists in order to successfully sell sunwear, and understanding why offering the frames are vital for patients’ satisfaction.

 

TAKE HOME

Breaking down various advice and hints for ophthalmologists in order to successfully sell sunwear, and understanding why offering the frames are vital for patients’ satisfaction.

 



By Rose Schneider, Content Specialist, Ophthalmology Times

While selling sunwear can seem intimidating or even off-putting for ophthalmologists, Joy L. Gibb, ABOC, said the practice is not only a great revenue generator for physicians, but if handled correctly, can highly increase patient satisfaction.

“You have to be committed to recommending, prescribing, and presenting sunwear to every patient,” said Gibb, president of Eyes of Joy Mobile Optical Service, Woods Cross, UT. “So many physicians feel uncomfortable ‘selling’ during the exam.

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“Instead of considering it a ‘sale,’ it needs to be seen as a recommended product solution that will improve, protect, and retain the patient’s vision and ocular health,” she continued. “As eye care professionals, we know the problems cumulative ultraviolet (UV) exposure can have. It’s our responsibility to explain those risks and offer solutions.”

Because many ophthalmologists are hesitant to sell sunwear frames to patients, ophthalmic optical shops can lack the attention needed to ensure their success, said Bennett Romanoff, MD.

“The biggest fault of ophthalmologists is they are eye doctors, and they’re not too big into making their optical shops profit centers,” said Dr. Romanoff, Romanoff Vision, Sylvania, OH.

Where to start

To turn optical shops into profit centers, Gibb recommended ophthalmologists start by properly educating their patients on the importance of sunwear.

 

“Educating patients about the importance of UV protection and how sunwear can enhance their lifestyle and vision should be a part of every exam,” Gibb said. “Patients come seeking solutions for their vision, how to retain what they have, and how they may be able to restore what may be diminished.

“We know that certain colors of lenses can help with vision and that UV protection can protect them from future problems,” she explained.

This technique has proven highly successful for Dr. Romanoff, as he reported that in 2014, between 15% to 20% of his patients bought polarized sunwear, and 61% to 75% of them bought Transitions sunwear.

“It takes a little more time for the ophthalmologists to educate their patients . . . but it is worth it in the optical shop,” Dr. Romanoff said.

Committing to the right sunwear inventory is another important aspect ophthalmologists should focus on if they want the practice’s optical shop to be profitable, Gibb said.

“So many times the inventory is stacked with ophthalmic frames and only a few sunglasses,” Gibb said. “Sunwear should be prominently displayed on your frame boards and highlighted in window displays. Have a great selection for both fashion and function.

“Make sure you have a nice variety of styles and prices available,” she recommended.

Fashion and function should both be considered when deciding on sunwear inventory, Gibb said.

 

“Be sure to carry frames that can hold prescription lenses, but also have a few wrap frames for plano wearers,” she said. “Wrap frames or wider temple pieces offer added protection for those who work outside where debris can enter the frame and injure the eye.”

Pay attention to which frames patients are choosing, Gibb advised, to guarantee the optical shop has sunwear patients actually want to purchase.

“Men tend to be brand loyal and will ask for sunwear brands by name,” she said. “If you are repeatedly being asked for a certain line, you may want to consider putting it in. If you chose not to carry certain brands, at least be familiar with the product line so you can offer something comparable and be able to explain the differences and why you prefer the brands you offer.”

Advantages of ophthalmic clinics

There are several unique opportunities that come with selling sunwear to patients in an ophthalmic clinic, Gibb pointed out, that help ensure success.

“Sunwear should be recommended after surgical procedures, particularly those that improve vision and allow a patient to wear plano sunglasses,” Gibb advised. “For someone who has had a significant correction in their lenses, the opportunity to wear large, fashionable sunglasses is exciting. Having the ability to wear a sunglass with interchangeable plano lenses with tints that will enhance specific activities can improve their quality of life and enjoyment of their outdoor activities.”

 

Also having the chance to show patients the characteristics of the sunwear in the chair-as opposed to being shown the frames by staff in the optical shop-can be highly beneficial to the patient, Gibb said.

“You can explain the benefits of a polarized lens, but showing them a polarized lens demonstrator helps them fully understand how glare can be reduced. Those moments can give the patient the ‘wow factor’ and a better understanding of the value of their purchase,” she said.

Physicians can also find ease in knowing that they do not have to be aware of pricing logistics for the sunwear, Gibb said. Instead, ophthalmologists should focus on what they know best-how the features and characteristics of the frames help their patients’ vision.

Ophthalmologists should make sure to write multiple prescriptions for sunwear as well, because the more prescriptions that are written, the more profitable the clinic’s optical shop will become, she said.

“When doctors recommend a pair of sunglasses and then write a separate prescription for them, the patient feels more compelled to fill both prescriptions,” Gibb added.

The bottom line

Above all else, both Gibb and Dr. Romanoff stressed the importance of commitment to ensure profit and patient satisfaction success.

 

“In the field of ophthalmology and the field of medicine in general, we’re getting pay cuts,” Dr. Romanoff said. “(While selling sunwear) does take extra chair time and education, . . . patients really value the physician’s expertise and opinions . . . rather than anyone else.

“We (really) do see the benefits in our optical shop as the result of doing this,” he explained.

“When patients feel their needs and wants have been heard and met, they feel like they have an eye-care provider who genuinely cares for their vision, ocular health, and overall well-being,” Gibb added.