Medical Is Great, But Don’t Forget The Optical

It Seems To Me

Everywhere I look I hear about how everyone should go to the “medical model”. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what that is. It seems to me everyone thinks they’re doing it, but no one is doing it the same way.

And I get the importance of providing medical services, especially in light of the crappy reimbursements we’ve seemed to have gotten ourselves into. Overall the fees from insurance are higher with 99 codes and medical diagnoses, and many find it more intellectually fulfilling to treat disease conditions.

Intellectually or not, though, I like to make money. And the optical dispensary is a good way to do that. As I look around, the biggest, and yes, the most profitable practices are the ones who emphasize and recognize the importance of their optical departments.

Here’s Five Reasons Why You Need A Strong Optical.

  1. Like it or not, the primary reason people come to see us is because they want to see better. That means lots of refractions. And glasses. You can be the best diagnostician in the world, but if you don’t have a nice optical display for people to shop, they’re disappointed and will walk away.
  2. It’s highly profitable. I realize that vision plans have reduced the margins on glasses just like our refractive services, but there is no law that says people can’t buy higher end products. And in successful practices, that is exactly what happens.
  3. It’s a practice builder. Having an exciting frame inventory gets people talking, and they tell their friends. They become walking billboards for your practice.
  4. You’ve got a captive audience. The patient is in your office and needs glasses. Most people want the convenience and satisfaction of getting them immediately. We remember the ones who walk out without a purchase, but the vast majority will buy the glasses on the spot.
  5. And the best part? You don’t need to give up your clinic. You can have both! Consider your dispensary as a separate business. It is retail, pure and simple.  Run it as such, and measure its performance separately.

The best thing of all is to have a retail manager oversee the optical operations. Get someone with retail experience and understands sales. Measuring a PD and seg height can be taught to anyone. You’re looking for someone who knows how to  train and manage a sales staff, handle inventory, and most of all, understand the importance of customer service.

John Scibal
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