Create a more detailed patient
questionnaire. Consider including a section where patients
"check all that apply." Include items like
reading, playing a musical instrument, computer, needlework,
boating, swimming, TV, etc. Having this information allows
you to ask questions that will create conversations that
will certainly lead to sales. For example, "I see you
spend a lot of time watching TV. Many people find that their
bifocals are a real nuisance, especially in recliners or in
bed. They find a pair that just has their distance
prescription makes TV time a lot more enjoyable. How have
your bifocals worked for you when you watch TV?"
Use only open-ended questions. The
questions you ask patients during your quest to make another
sale are critical. Avoid closed-end questions. What's the
difference? An open-ended question is defined as a question
that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Remember,
closed-end - bad; open-ended - good. For example, you would
want to avoid asking, "Could I interest you in a pair
of prescription sunglasses?" Most patients will simply
reply, "No thank you," and the conversation is
over. If you pursued the sale, you might come across as
pushy and make the patient extremely uncomfortable. On the
other hand, if you asked, "How do you protect you eyes
from harmful UV rays?" a much more detailed
conversation will take place.
Never mention price. Well, almost never.
Far too many opticians talk about price way too early. Here
is an excerpt of an exchange I recently heard between an
optician and his patient:
Patient: "Do you carry those
Optician: "Yes ma'am, of course we
Patient: "Can you tell me a little
bit about them?"
Optician: "Sure. They're $100 extra…and
they don't get very dark in the car."
Now you may argue that the optician had a
duty to share that information, and I would agree. However,
timing is everything. A much better response to the second
question might be, "Sure. They're great! I just made my
mom a pair and she loves them. They get nice and dark when
she's walking her dog, and inside they're basically clear.
Look, I'm wearing mine right now."
The only time the price of anything
should cross an optician's lips, is when he or she is
answering a specific inquiry about price. Let me be clear.
Unless a patient asks "How much is it?" or
"How much does it cost?" an optician should never
bring it up. That rule especially applies to the second pair
Focus on sunglasses. Ninety-nine percent
of your patients spend time in the sun and have been
educated on the importance of protection against UV. Here
are two specific ways you will significantly increase your
second-pair sales with a sunglass sale. The first is an
original idea, the second came from the late, brilliant, Bob
After replacing a screw or making a minor
adjustment, when you hand the glasses back to the customer,
simply say, "Here you go." If you do that, the
vast majority of them will say, "How much do I owe you
for that?" Instead of the standard "No charge…glad
to help," try this: "One minute of your
time." I do this all the time, and not once has a
customer refused me the minute. After all, they feel obliged
for the favor I have just performed for them. I tell them I
just wanted to show them a really neat sunglass lens that is
available, and I walk them over to my polarization display
box. I explain what polarization is, and demonstrate the
difference between regular sunglasses and polarized ones
(they try on both). That simple process takes less than 90
seconds, and has led to hundreds of sales of polarized
Years ago during one of his engaging
seminars, industry icon Bob Bieber assured the opticians in
attendance that if we wished to increase our second-pair
sunglass sales by 38%, all we had to do was ask one specific
question to every patient when we write up their initial
order. If the question did not lead to a second-pair sale
then, we had to promise to ask it again when the glasses
were dispensed. Here is Bob's magical (and I can, from
experience assure you, successful) question: "When will
you be updating your sunglasses into your current
prescription?" There's a lot going on in that
beautifully worded, wonderfully open-ended question. Thanks,
Discounts. Be careful with this one –
price is only an issue in the absence of value. Having said
that, too small of a discount will not inspire a call to
action. Too large a discount may make the patient think you
ripped them off with the first pair. 25% seems attractive
for both the patient and the business owner. Even if the
second pair only contributed $50 to your gross profit, and
even if you only sold two second pairs a day, that would add
more than $30,000 to your bottom line each and every year.
Go fishing. What I mean by that is, don't
pick and choose when you will implement some of these
suggestions. Decide which ones make sense for you and do
them with every patient, every day. I call it fishing.
Here's the analogy: Let's assume you catch a fish 10% of the
time you cast your line into the water. If you cast it ten
times, you will catch one fish. If you cast your line one
hundred times, you will catch ten fish. You get the picture.
You may think that some of these
suggestions might not work for you. Maybe you're right.
While I can't guarantee trying these things will double your
second-pair sales overnight, one thing I can absolutely
guarantee: If you always do what you've always done, you'll
always get what you've always got. Go for it.