Seven tips from ABDO president Clive Marchant FBDO and vice-president Jo Holmes FBDO
Author: Clive Marchant
Seven ways: max out your dispensing value
Maximising your dispensing value is of benefit to practice, patient and dispenser: as well as the obvious benefit for the practice finances, the patient gets the optimum eyewear to meet their needs, and the optician gets to use their full range of skills and up to date product knowledge.
1. First impressions are important. Is your practice inviting? Are your frames clean and well displayed? Identify the patient’s current spectacles before they have their eye examination. Check out the prescription, how long ago the specs were made, the lens type, the condition of the frames and lenses. Tell the optometrist before examination as it will help them tailor their recommendations.
2. After the eye examination have a discussion with the optometrist about their recommendations, and involve the patient too. Then spend time discovering the patient’s lifestyle. Ask about their occupation, what visual tasks will this require? Discuss hobbies, sports and preferred type of holidays. If they are a driver find out how they get on when driving at night. You have two ears and one mouth. While it is easy to find yourself talking all the time, use your ears and mouth in that proportion to ensure that you are listening to your patient’s needs.
3. Offer the patient a range of recommendations rather than a single solution such as: varifocals for general use; occupational lenses for the office; safety eye wear for the factory; sunspecs for driving and holidays; contact lenses or sports eyewear for sport; high add single vision for craft work, etc. Discuss lens type: should the lenses be thin, light, reflection free, light reactive? This is a chance to introduce the idea that often one pair of glasses may not tick all the boxes. Good use of a digital measuring device can give the patient the feel of added value, especially when you tell them that their lenses will be unique to them.
4. Discuss frame materials and qualities. Would the patient like something that is light or durable or suitable for allergies? Talk about frame design and trends, and show options relevant to their lifestyle. Discuss which styles and sizes are optimum for their prescription. Patients may not be aware that there is little benefit in having thin light lenses if the frame is too large. If your patient is unsure, use a digital device to allow them to see themselves in a frame and share with friends or family. You could offer to insert contact lenses so they can see their choice of frames, which also introduces the benefits of contact lenses. Let them know that you can order other styles, colours or brands – within reason – on approval basis specially for them.
5. Record lifestyle recommendations so that you can raise these if the patient returns. Develop trust by following through from dispensing to collection. Keep patients informed of delays. Spend time at collection to ensure the patient is happy and remind them of the benefits of their purchase. Follow up, and remember to invite patients back for adjustments. This has the dual benefit of flagging up that spectacles change shape with wear, as well as bringing them back into practice. When they come in you can ask if they were interested in other recommendations made at the time of the examination.
6. While it is important to observe the patient and their appearance, it is vital not to pre-judge them. To start off with, ignore price, and give your patient all the options. Someone who may not appear well off may still choose to invest in great eyewear. Once you start to discuss price, does your practice offer payment options for patients to spread the cost, interest free and or via direct debit?
7. Spend time with your patients and get inside their minds. Buying your glasses on the internet will not offer this and it is surprising what gems can be unearthed that would be useful to your patient. To maximise your dispensing value, get to know your patient and offer your time, the rest will fall into place supported by all the knowledge and skills that a qualified dispensing optician has.
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