Tell Me A Story

How can we utilize the technique of storytelling to increase our optical sales?

How often do you take the time to wander through your optical and really look at the frames you have on your board? At first glance, many of the lines we carry may look similar in shape, style, and color. But what really sets these frames apart? What differentiates them from their competition — and why is this important to our patients?

I recently had lunch with one of my frame reps, and we were talking about one of the lines she carries. She was wearing one of the newest sunglasses in that line and told me it was one of her top sellers (she also has an independent optical) — with a retail price of $1,200. Wow! I asked her: “What makes that frame special and unique — and worth that price tag?” She quickly launched into a narrative about how the frame is handmade with multi-layered cotton-based acetate and has a chassis that comes in 12k, 18k, or 24k gold. The temples have hidden spring hinges, and the lenses are a special 24k gold-coated mirror with a proprietary anti-reflection/anti-scratch/hydrophobic coating. The frames were also crafted in small batches, hand numbered, and had a lifetime warranty. She also told me that it was on back order.

How could a practice sell a $1,200 non-prescription sunglass over and over and have customers on a waiting list for the next shipment? The story she told about the quality of the frame and lens had me reaching for my credit card. I wanted one too!

The Importance of Storytelling
Storytelling is one of the most effective tools we have in our optical sales — especially to combat patients walking with their prescriptions and wanting to shop online. We are hard wired to hear stories. The London School of Business found that people retain 65% to 70% of information shared via a story, versus only 5% to 10% when using statistics.

How can we use this in our practices? One of the metrics a lot of practices are trying to improve is their capture rate. How many complete eyewear packages are purchased per comprehensive exam? With the increase in online and retail vendors, and their often-rock-bottom prices, this is an uphill battle for most practices.

How can you compete against lower prices? Tell the story of why the patient should buy from you! My frame rep taught me the value of her sunglasses by describing the process of how the frame was made, where the materials came from, and the thought that went into the lens design. Each frame vendor that you carry has a story too — your reps and the company would love to teach you! The next time you present a frame to a patient, tell them the story. The frame they are holding started with a sketch, and it may have taken eight to 14 weeks to manufacture in France. Another frame was handmade in the U.S., and if the patient visits the manufacturer’s website, they can even see pictures and bios of the craftspeople who make them. A super funky line on your shelves may be a limited edition work of art.

I always make it a point to wear a unique frame in a fun color. Inevitably a patient will say, “Dr Stewart, I love your glasses!” This is my time to tell them the story behind the frame. Knowing the details of the frames, company, inspiration, materials, and lens choices for your optical can really make the sales process fun, engaging, and personalized.

Get All the Details
While there can be a knee-jerk reaction to bring in lower priced frames to compete with online and retail sales, I encourage you to seek out independent companies that take pride in their products. Ask questions about the manufacturing process, the choice in design, and what rivets and screws they use. Is this sunglass part of a limited edition, is it numbered, and is it a collector’s item? What is the inspiration behind the color combinations used? Showcasing the story and vision behind the products you support can set you apart from your competitors and show your patients the value in their purchases.  

As l.a. Eyeworks famously says, “A face is like a work of art. It deserves a great frame.”

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