Every edition of the ABB CONCISE Profit Advisor is chock full of informative articles on eye care trends, new products and ways to grow profits in an ever changing eye care practice marketplace.
- Best practice tips on selling and staff training
- Trends and pricing analyses
- New products and techniques
- Practitioner success stories
A MESSAGE FROM THE CEO
"Can an independent ECP survive amid corporate eye care giants?"
If your business depends on the continued prosperity of independent ECPs, as mine does, reading the headlines in the optical press can be scary. The threats posed by new Internet sellers, ever-expanding mass merchandisers and managed care giants seem overwhelming.
Independent ODs sometimes ask me if I’m concerned about the changing competitive landscape. I say sure, but I quickly add that I care a lot about independents because I’m all-in. Nearly all of my revenue comes from independent practitioners. I sink or swim with you in waters where the great white sharks seem to be getting more aggressive. We better be agile.
In business, what you choose not to do can be just as important as what you do. It’s impossible to satisfy every type of customer or patient. A business must choose whom to serve. Some customers want the lowest price; others want highly personalized service. Offering both simultaneously is impossible.
For most independent ECPs, I think the only long-term strategy that makes sense is to ignore the price-shoppers
and appeal to those patients who desire the following benefits:
Competent, professional diagnosis
- Highly personalized care and advice
- Eyesight protection for a lifetime—a continuity of care
Apart from the first benefit, the optical chains cannot really deliver this package of value very well. The Internet providers can’t deliver any of these benefits.
Every business needs to educate its customers about its value proposition— what it does that’s valuable to its core customers. That shapes expectations and service impressions.
Many independent ECPs take the valuable benefits they deliver for granted and don’t take any time to communicate their primary competitive advantages to patients. They make a mistake in thinking that patients will figure out for themselves the unique value the practice offers. But what a practice fails to verbalize is not consistently communicated to patients.
Here are strategies that the best independents use to build on their primary competitive advantages.
Emphasize the value of a preventive eye care program over a lifetime—to every patient. Patients in their 40s and 50s might witness their elderly parents suffering sight-threatening conditions like diabetes, glaucoma or macular degeneration. They dread the thought of
having their own quality of life diminished in old age or becoming dependent on their children, through loss of sight. They will respond to a program of regular care to preserve sight when its benefits are explained and reinforced during every visit. The result will be more frequent visits to the office and greater revenue per patient.
- Adopt the latest diagnostic technology and showcase it to patients. Use of the latest instruments sends a powerful message to patients that they are receiving a level of treatment not likely to be obtained at a chain store mainly interested in selling inexpensive eyeglasses. Silent use of the new technology is not enough. The value of each test should be explained briefly to provide reassurance to patients that they are receiving the best possible care.
- During each patient visit, present a new vision-correction technology that will upgrade a patient’s daily visual
experience. Patients visit their independent eye doctor about every 30 months. In the interval, new corrective technologies likely were introduced. A standard process should be to review each patient’s file before the exam process begins and to decide which new product to present as an upgrade. Even if patients decide not to purchase the new product, they receive a message that the practice is current and interested in their welfare.
- Personalize every patient encounter. A unique advantage that independent ECPs have is that over the years, they learn the details of an individual patient’s lifestyle, vision environments and preferences and can use the information to tailor a package of product features uniquely suited to him or her. The turnover at corporate optical locations makes it less likely that patients receive this kind of personalized advice. Every office needs a standard process to uncover patient needs in detail during each visit. To make patients aware of personalization as recommendations are made, it’s most effective to explain how the recommendation responds to the needs that patients themselves articulate.
- Train staff to be credible patient educators. With a need to control expenses to keep prices low, many chains will struggle with retaining a knowledgeable staff. Independent ECPs can achieve a clear superiority in staff competence, but it requires that energy be spent on training.
- Maintain contact between office visits. With email and social media, it’s becoming relatively effortless to maintain contact with patients during the many months that elapse between visits. That’s a way to reinforce the competitive advantages independents have and cement loyalty.
ABB CONCISE is committed to the future of independent ECPs. We prosper when you prosper. You have powerful advantages over alternate providers. We encourage you to leverage them by overtly conveying your advantages to each patient.
Angel Alvarez CEO,
“The Contact Lens Profit Advisor provides unbiased expertise and is a great way to sort through the experiences of practitioners just like me.” – Eye Care Professional California
The ABB CONCISE Profit Advisor speaks for itself
Published on a quarterly basis, expert contributors to the Profit Advisor compare industry trends on a timely basis, provide historical perspectives on the industry and disseminate business strategies proven to work in today’s competitive eye care environment.
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Links to other ABB CONCISE profit building publications
Annual Supply Card
Guide to Patient Retention