Eye care professionals have the option to either redesign
traditional business methods, or continue helping online
retailers gain market share.
It is easy to give away your competitive advantage. Simply
continue two traditions:
1. Bundle Fees for Services with Fees for Frames and Lenses
Make certain your fees for products always appear higher
than the online retailer’s fees for similar products.
Achieve this by bundling fees for professional services,
such as fitting and dispensing, into invoiced fees for
frames and lenses. Do not break out or itemize the
professional work that differentiates your business from
your online competition. Allow every patient to believe that
your prices for products are expensive compared to similar
frames and lenses available online.
2. Provide Free Optical Services
When a patient chooses to buy their eyeglasses from an
online retailer, adjust and align the new eyewear for free.
If for any reason, the new purchase does not meet
expectations, help the patient troubleshoot problems and
enforce warranty agreements with their provider of choice.
Supply unlimited expert advice and assistance as a courtesy.
After all, paying your opticians to give away professional
services will persuade every patient to buy your obviously
overpriced frames and lenses next time out of sheer
Traditional business practices are giving the competitive
advantage to online retailers on a silver platter.
STOP Helping Your Competition!
As online optical retail gains market share and with it,
consumer acceptance, it’s time for eye care professionals to
redesign traditional business tactics:
Recognize what services differentiate your practice.
Unbundle service fees from product fees.
Educate your patients about the monetary value of
professional optical services.
Stay competitive in a changing marketplace. Redesign your
business model to help patients make smarter comparisons.
Finally, persuade consumers to purchase services that
differentiate your business from your competition.
1. Recognize what services differentiate your practice.
Think of the lens and frame order. During this process,
brick and mortar locations provide services online retailers
cannot offer. An automated website cannot judge frame
suitability for a unique prescription. It is not possible to
pre-adjust the frame to assure comfort and proper fit prior
to taking measures for the most accurate lens order. An
online optical retailer cannot take the measurements
necessary to tailor a custom free form lens. They cannot
determine monocular PDs, vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt,
and wrap. Patients need the services that brick and mortar
Think about lens and frame delivery. After the new eyewear
is fabricated and delivered by mail, the online retailer
cannot confirm accurate lens alignment to assure best
vision. They cannot adjust the frame to improve comfort. An
online optical simply cannot provide the hands on services
that patients need and deserve.
It is interesting that online retailers have turned their
weaknesses into a competitive advantage. They can’t provide
services, so their product fees do not include bundled fees
for services. For this reason, online retailers can
legitimately advertise lower prices than most brick and
mortar stores. Patients, who do not understand the monetary
value of services, perceive a tremendous opportunity for
savings. Do not allow online retailers to win this
Recognize that your services are your strength. In fact, you
can capitalize on your ability to provide hands on services
patients need when they buy from you or when they choose to
buy online. You can unbundle services from products: itemize
the frame, the lens, lens options, plus services. And, you
can offer a la carte services. These services differentiate
your practice from your competition, online or around the
corner. Make the fees obvious.
Good news. It is OK to charge appropriate fees for services
2. Unbundle service fees from product fees.
Redesign your business model to maintain profitability. Do
this by unbundling professional service fees from frame and
lens product fees. There are two immediate benefits:
First, your frame and lens product fees will become
competitive against both brick and mortar competition and
your online competition.
Second, you can offer a la carte services patients need when
they choose to buy prescription eye wear online. Provide
patients the opportunity to purchase frame advice, lens
material advice, and the measurements necessary for an
accurate order. Help patients make decisions that will
assure the best possible vision. Later, when the eyewear
arrives in the mail, offer proper lens alignment, frame
adjustment for comfort, and verification that the
prescription meets industry standards. Measure corrected
visual acuity. Standardize appropriate care and charge
appropriate fees for services rendered.
Not Sure What to Charge?
If you don’t know what to charge, begin by calculating the
profit your business already generates from optical
services. EyeCare Professional has a free (downloadable)
Spreadsheet Calculator provided by Renee Jacobs, O.D., M.A.,
and Director of Practice Management Depot. You can use the
spreadsheet to unbundle service fees from product fees. In
addition, you can calculate your “Limited Dispensing Fee,”
the fee for lens alignment and frame adjustment at the time
of dispense. The Spreadsheet Calculator is accompanied by a
video explanation narrated by Dr. Jacobs.
Evolve business tactics to maintain profitability. Calculate
the typical profit you generate from providing a specific
service. Then, with revenue numbers in mind, set an
3. Educate your patients about the monetary value of
professional optical services.
When you unbundle professional fees, it is important to
communicate the monetary value of services. Many opticians
are not adequately prepared to explain what they do, and
defend itemized fees for their work. Many are uncomfortable
explaining why their services have value. Address this
challenge. Transform weakness into strength.
Help your patients understand that optical services have
monetary value. This knowledge is good for patients,
certainly good for business, and arguably good for the
profession of opticianry. Communicating the importance of
best practices elevates every ophthalmic profession.
Consciously standardize procedures and patient education
strategies. Deliver each service with ultimate attention to
detail. Explain every procedure plus the visual benefit.
For example, if a patient purchases eye wear from your
office, then during dispense you might say:
Before we called to schedule your dispensing appointment, we
verified that your new lenses meet industry standards for
prescription accuracy, including power and axis alignment.
You might think accurate prescription fabrication is
regulated, but it isn’t. In the US, compliance to standards
is voluntary. We take pride knowing you will see your best
when your lenses match doctor’s prescription.
Teach your patients that services differentiate your
business from the competition. Modify patient education
strategies until your patients believe itemized services are
worth every penny invoiced. Knowledgeable patients will
recruit their friends to experience your top notch service.
Make it happen!
The optical marketplace is expanding to include a new kind
of competition, the Online Optical Retailer. In the new
environment, traditional business practices give away
competitive advantage. It is time to come clean with the
consumer. Unbundle optical service fees and deliver those
services with pride. Differentiate your business.
Don’t wait until the day no one comes through the door,
except the patients who need those “free” services.
Don’t lose profitability or give away your competitive
advantage as e-retail gains market share. Instead, take