There is an old adage in business that says, “if you want to grow something, you need to measure it.” Otherwise, how will you be able to track your progress—or lack thereof?
This same philosophy applies to your contact lens business. In our opinion, there are two major areas that offer the greatest potential for growth: daily disposable lenses and specialty lenses. In addition to converting new patients to these modalities, turning them into purchasers of annual supplies will create a strong source of revenue for your practice for many years.
Marketing Daily Disposable Contact Lenses
Increasing contact lens sales starts with a specifically targeted marketing plan. Internal marketing is by far the easiest and least expensive approach. Begin the process by talking to your current patients.
You should plan to present and discuss contact lens options with every spectacles-only patient that sits down in your exam chair. Be mindful of the patient flow and how your staff would handle the added contact lens trainings without excessive delay. Also, be sure that each individual who interacts with the patient, from the front office to the technicians to the doctors, presents a consistent message.
Track the number of contact lens wearers you currently have, and then measure the growth over a 90-day period. It will most certainly be worth your time.
You also should strive to improve success with your current contact lens wearers.
This includes presenting new and exciting options to every patient, including daily disposable lenses. Single-use lenses offer many advantages, of which convenience is by far the biggest and easiest to convey. It is important to actively discuss the new materials and new modalities available, along with their improved health benefits.
This modality is advantageous because it offers patients the convenience of a clean, fresh lens with each replacement, without the hassle of worrying about lens care and keeping track of a replacement schedule.
A successful reverse geometry large diameter GP fit in a post-LASIK patient who did not think they could wear contact lenses any longer.
From part-time to full-time wear, the daily disposable category offers patients a number of exciting benefits. For example, with daily disposables, patients can wear contact lenses only when they are participating in sports.
Daily disposable lenses also offer patients the luxury of freedom from their spectacles during weekends or while traveling. If your patient is simply looking for a more convenient option, daily disposables should be an “easy sell.”
This lens modality may be the best choice for many of your younger patients:
• Children 8-12. Patients who fall into this age range may be some of the most excited about the opportunity to wear contact lenses, and as a result, may become your best marketers. Prior to your introduction, many parents and children may not have previously considered lens wear. But typically, your recommendation is all it takes to get them fitted into their first pair.
Introduce to these young patients to the idea of spectacle-free living, then discuss the advantages of wearing contact lenses. It will surprise you just how many patients will be glad they made the switch—especially the young and competitive athletes in this group. Develop friendly, engaging marketing ideas that stress lifestyle benefits, and consider using social media to celebrate their accomplishments.1,2
• Teens 13-18. While many teenagers are unsure of what exactly is involved with contact lens wear, most are excited to get rid of their glasses. Patients that fall in this age range are typically extremely worried about their image. It is common for a teen to have glasses, braces and an acne problem—all at the same time. Confidence, image and self-esteem are important to these patients.
Shedding the glasses by fitting these patients into contact lenses can help develop a great deal of confidence.
Remember, social media is huge at this age; make sure to ask patients to show off their new look to their friends and on their social media pages.1,2
Take the time to discuss all contact lens options with your younger patients and their parents. Make a strong recommendation for daily disposables. Patients and parents alike will value your suggestions. Write down any pertinent instructions so that patients can reference them, and be sure to discuss all fees up front. No one likes a surprise at the checkout desk.
Cultivating a contact lens population at this age will lead to sustained patient loyalty for many years.
Marketing Specialty Contact Lenses
The first step in marketing specialty lenses is to focus specifically on medically necessary fits, as in keratoconus and post-traumatic corneas.
You also should direct your efforts toward patients with irregular and high astigmatism, multifocal contact lens wearers, post-refractive surgery patients, orthokeratology, myopia regression/prevention and those patients who experience poor visual acuity with spectacle lenses.
Each of these scenarios presents an opportunity to convey the benefits of specialty lenses.
Dealing with these patients typically takes a great deal of energy. They will usually require more chair time, staff time and doctor time as well. Patients that fall into this category are usually more demanding and will take more preparation. For that reason, it is important to understand how to properly bill and code for these patients prior to their examination.
Consider developing your protocol ahead of time, so that your entire staff is prepared and on board before these patients even enter your office. For instance, determine which fitting sets are most important to keep in the office so that you are prepared for most clinical scenarios.
Also consider developing a unified marketing approach that will foster growth in this contact lens wearing population. To achieve this goal, focus your marketing program on talking to area doctors, primary care practitioners and school nurses. These individuals encounter very many prospective contact lens wearers but do not have the means to serve them.
In addition to communication with other professionals, consider adding external advertising to your internal marketing campaign, including newsletters, emails, websites and social media outlets.
Marketing Annual Supplies
Our patients have many options to choose from when purchasing their contact lenses.
Make it easier for your patients to do business with you, and give them an incentive to order a year’s supply of lenses up front. This will prevent them from purchasing contact lenses elsewhere, and also prevents any “doctor shopping” that might cause the patient to turn to another practice for routine care.
The best way to simplify the purchasing process is to streamline it. Offer patients the option to purchase their lenses directly online from you, and consider directly shipping all contact lens orders to their homes. If they choose to order less than an annual supply, a small additional shipping fee may be appropriate.
Be sure to add any rebates, whether they are manufacturer driven or an in-office instant rebate, to increase the incentive to purchase an annual supply. Most importantly, remind them that you stand behind their purchase, and they always have somewhere to go if there happen to be any issues with the lenses down the road (e.g., ripping, change in Rx, defective lens, etc.).
People respond well to incentives, so be sure to engineer as many as possible to increase appeal. Many practices have a net per-box price after all the incentives. That price may be the perfect number to quote to your patients.
Most of our patients already want to buy from us—we just need to ensure that they feel we are giving them the best value for their purchase.
As 2013 wraps up, start to really focus in on your specific marketing goals for your contact lens business, and work to develop programs around those specific goals.
The potential areas of opportunity described in this article may be a great place to start. Not only will this help to prevent contact lens dropouts, but also by developing new and innovative areas of practice growth, you have the potential to increase your contact lens business exponentially.
1. Walline J, Jones L, Rah MJ, et al. Contact Lenses in Pediatrics (CLIP) Study: Chair Time and Ocular Health. Optom Vis Sci. 2007 Sep;84(9):896-902.
2. Walline J, Gaume A, Jones LA, et al. Benefits of contact lens wear for children and teens. Eye Contact Lens. 2007 Nov;33:317-21.