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Dispensary Layout and Décor

Has it been several years since you last decorated or updated your dispensary?

Have you noticed a decrease in sales in the last year? Are your employees or coworkers
running into each other trying to help patients? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”,
it is time to look at your dispensary layout and décor.

Fashion Optical Display - Elements Built in Look

Frame Displays - Modular Optical Displays

Unlike strictly retail environments, dispensaries have to serve two purposes: sales and patient care. Both of these purposes have to be taken into account when remodeling or refreshing a dispensary. Since eyewear sales makes up approximately 65% of a practice’s revenue, maximizing sales is important. However, providing outstanding patient care and education keeps patients happy. Happy patients return for future exams and refer others for eye health care. This helps boost the revenue from healthcare. Furthermore, everyone who works in the practice needs to be able to provide excellent customer service in an efficient, effective manner. It can be difficult to do this if technicians and dispensers have to wait for tools to adjust eyewear or a computer station to enter orders.

Looking at Your Dispensary with a Retailer’s Eye

The next time you enter your office, walk in through the front door and look at the entire building through a potential patient’s eyes. Is it easy to see the receptionist and other staff from the door? Are the windows sparkling? Do the carpets have spots? Are the furnishings up-to-date, comfortable and clean? Are there any potential hazards that could harm children or elderly patients? Patients expect and need a healthy, clean and safe environment for their eye care. Your office and dispensary should be spotless. There should be no tripping hazards from electric cords or steps. Furniture should be clean and attractive. Include furnishings that support and accommodate heavier patients comfortably. There should be no food trash, Kleenex or other debris left on any desks or tables. Magazines, toys, books and patient literature should also be clean and organized. Discard any magazines or other literature that is torn, dirty, or dog-eared.

Some things should be done both outside and inside the dispensary on a daily basis.

  • Clean and sweep the entry door

  • Remove any trash from the building exterior

  • Make sure all lighting is working

  • Clean the restrooms

  • Clean all windows and mirrors

  • Clean floors and shelves

  • Dust dispensary displays

  • Fill all holes in the frame boards

  • Neatly restock shelves and kiosks of retail items like contact lens solutions eyeglass cleaners

  • Check branded point-of-purchase materials like shelf talkers and dangle cards daily for dirt or damage

  • Identify and immediately fix any safety hazards

  • Ensure dispensing and sales stations are orderly and have clean materials

Keep frame boards filled throughout the day and make sure adjusting and measuring tools stay at the dispensary stations. Not only does this ensure a patient can see all available frames while shopping, it also helps you keep track of any missing frames to catch potential theft more quickly. A dispensary that is uncluttered keeps patients at ease and is visually more appealing. It also helps all staff be more efficient because each person can find needed tools quickly without searching all over the dispensary.

Monthly Tasks

Look at your window displays. Have they been changed in the last month? Are any of the displays faded? If so, replace them so that they look fresh. Update your decor monthly to keep these important displays novel and inviting. Below are some other tasks that should be done monthly:

  • Perform any needed deep cleaning tasks

  • Review the prices on eyeglasses and other products and update as needed

  • Check frame boards for outdated or discontinued frames and arrange for returns

  • Review expiration dates on all contact lens trials, medications and solutions and remove expired products

  • Remove damaged or outdated decor like posters and point-of-purchase signage

  • Change out promotional materials and seasonal merchandise

As new frames arrive, place them into groups by frame lines rather than price or color. This allows brand-conscious patients to find the designs they like more quickly, which can enhance your sales. Take advantage of any merchandising aids that frame vendors offer to make the frame lines stand out. Set up special displays for high-end frames to highlight them more effectively.

Keeping up with these monthly tasks will prevent them from becoming overwhelming. It will also ensure that signage and displays are as current as possible to maximize sales.

When It Is Time to Update

Perhaps you have noticed furniture and flooring are showing wear, or it has been longer than five years since you have opened or changed your dispensary. Make some changes to keep your dispensary looking modern and fresh. If you have avocado green shag carpeting from the 1970s along with harvest gold walls, it’s definitely time to overhaul that decor.

You do not have to do a major renovation to freshen up the interior and make patients feel more welcome in your office. Think about appealing to all five senses. Replace or reupholster furniture, and add textures to the fabrics. Replace older light fixtures with new ones that can use broad-spectrum lighting to enhance your frame boards while saving energy costs. Replace frame boards with newer ones that allow better visibility and customization. Install a single-cup coffee maker and offer different flavor coffees to add depth to scents and taste. A small water feature or appropriate music can provide soothing sounds.

Update wall coverings with something new. To get ideas on the most current styles, look at decorating magazines or contact a local interior designer. Get inspiration from your building style or patient profile. If you work in a historic building, for instance, you might choose a classic décor. If your clients are technology savvy, you might look at sleek, modern ideas that incorporate LED or touch-screen displays throughout the office. When selecting paint colors, experts suggest about 80% of the optical should be decorated in neutral colors with 20% of the remaining space done in a bolder, complementary color as an accent.

The window displays and the area that is to the right of the entrance are prime real estate in your dispensary. Place your specialty displays for your high-end frames in these spots. You might want to hire a professional window dresser to come in periodically to handle the décor in these important locations. The increased sales revenue can easily make up for the costs.

Handling Major Changes

If you are expanding the office, moving to a newer, larger dispensary, or need to do a major renovation to increase patient services, it is time to consult some interior designers. While there are many retail design experts, choosing a designer who has experience specifically in eye care offices and optical dispensaries can make a big difference between an office flow that works and one that is awkward and inefficient. Optical interior designers know how to use lighting and frame display cabinets or boards to best enhance eyeglasses. They know how to work around your space limitations to develop a floor plan that offers the best flow and ergonomics while keeping in mind all ADA and HIPAA privacy requirements. The latest colors, styles, textures, displays and flooring will be discussed. Some of these designers, such as Fashion Optical Displays, include free dispensary design services based on your building’s layout. When working with professionals, don’t hesitate to talk about timetables, prices, and expectations. It is always best to have all the information up front to avoid cost overruns and delays.

If you want to increase optical sales, look at your office’s layout and décor. Make sure it is clean, modern, and comfortable for your patients. Break down work into daily and monthly tasks to keep the dispensary up-to-date and attractive. If you are ready for a major building change, consult an optical interior designer to make sure all the unique needs of your practice are met. The money spent will attract and keep more patients in your office and enhance your revenue.

Beth Carlock, OD

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