The decision to buy is based on emotions, says Rebecca Johnson, CPOT, COE, executive director of GPN. When she addressed a packed lunch-and-learn at Vision Expo West, she used her own Tumi backpack as a prime example. Johnson says she loved the look—professional and stylish—and knew that carrying a backpack would not give her the same crick in the neck and shoulder that comes from carrying a heavy purse. But she couldn’t justify the price, she recalls… until the sales representative “made it make sense for me to buy it. He told me that the bag had a three-year warranty, and suddenly, it made sense to spend the money when I began to think of all the bags that I’ve purchased that fall apart after a few months,” she says.
Johnson says that experience isn’t unlike what patients and customers in an optical dispensary go through. They may find very nice frames, for example, that are just above the price they had expected to pay. “It’s the role of the optician to help them buy what they want. CareCredit is a perfect way to help do that,” she notes. “It puts one additional tool in your toolbox so that you can say, ‘I have a way I can help you get what you want now.’”
It’s important that opticians—and the doctors who employ or work with them—realize that optometry is a mix of retail and medical services. “retail is not a four-letter word,” says Johnson. When a dispensary is staffed with opticians and others who understand that their goal is to help patients achieve the vision they need with the product that they want, then they can create those emotional moments that make the patients feel great about their choices. “Don’t think of it as selling; think of it as helping the patient buy. Patients want to select the products they most desire, and when you can give them something that will help them feel better about it, that’s helping them buy.”
She also emphasizes that everyone in the office has a role in discussing the option. Front desk staff and technicians can be very influential. For example, if a prospective patient calls and asks about the frames, a staff person who says, “We’ve got a great selection of designer frames,” may not be saying the words that will attract that particular buyer. Not everyone wants designer frames, says Johnson. But if the office representative says, “We have the most amazing collection of frames, and we encourage you to come in and shop around. It’s fun. We carry everything from value packages to designer frames, and the frames start at $139 and can go up to $5,000, but we also accept this wonderful credit card, CareCredit, which can help,” that’s a powerful motivator to get that customer into the dispensary.
Similarly, the technician reading a patient’s current lenses can start talking about frames. “Have you always worn brown frames? red is a cool color right now, and we have some great red frames in the optical. You could always wear the brown ones for work, but have another pair for something fun,” Johnson says. Again, the technician can mention that the practice accepts CareCredit, and that the combination of CareCredit, insurance benefits and even health savings account dollars can put a range of eyewear options within reach. “The message to all patients should be, ‘If you’re interested, we can help make it happen,’” Johnson says.