Discussing optical success often brings up an emotional response from doctors. Many feel uncomfortable with being part of a “sales transaction,” and they worry that patients will perceive them negatively if they’re part of that. Others feel they lack the education and experience to properly manage their optical and think the responsibility is better left to an optician or practice manager. Another common response I hear is that with online and commercial competition, “what’s the point” of worrying or focusing on it, and it isn’t profitable for them anyway.
I take the complete opposite view. Our optical sales represent a large percentage of our revenue (typically 40-45% of overall sales) and they are a great way to improve patient satisfaction and loyalty. Who better to provide patients with the best materials and technology than us?
When looking at our optical, we have to take an unemotional, analytical approach to first assess where we are to then make decisions about where we want to be. Often, we make changes based on our perception, our feelings, or what we think is going on, but we don’t have the data or metrics to back it up. We may feel we don’t have the time, someone else is doing it (maybe?), or we don’t actually know what to do with the information once we gather it. Where do we start, and how can we be proactive instead of reactive?
The only way to see improvements in your optical is to be tracking key metrics — and then knowing what to do with that data. Here are three of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help all independent practitioners boost their opticals.
KPI #1: Revenue Per Exam
The first metric, or KPI, that I like to focus on is Revenue Per Exam. This is defined as the amount received for all sales and services, divided by the number of refractive exams completed. According to GPN Technologies, the average revenue-per-exam for optometric practices is $409.44. How does your practice compare?
If you are near or below average (or want to increase your revenue even higher!), it can be done by focusing on each patient in your office. Can you offer additional testing that is an out-of-pocket/non-covered expense, such as OCT iWellness or retinal photography? Adding services such as specialty contact lens exams and dry eye treatments can also increase revenue. Utilizing premium technology, including contact lenses, frames, and ophthalmic lenses also serves to increase the amount the patient is spending outside of managed care. Increasing multiple pair sales and focusing on annual contact lens supplies will have significant changes in the revenue-per-patient as well.
Speaking of managed care — Revenue Per Exam is a great metric to use when deciding if you want to add or drop vision care plans. Emotions take a backseat when you’re really analyzing per-patient revenue — especially when breaking down patients who have different plans. If one plan is significantly lower and dragging down your average, this is a great time to leave it and focus your time on other higher paying plans (or make a plan to drop those as well).
KPI #2: Capture Rate
Another metric that is important to track is Capture Rate, or how many patients are fulfilling a prescribed treatment plan. This can be broken down into complete eyewear, or even focused on the number of patients getting photochromic lenses, contact lens annual supplies, or anti-reflective treatments. We often make assumptions about our capture rate and overestimate how many patients are actually buying glasses from us. We also can make quick, emotional changes in our offices based on our perception of this, while we should instead let our true capture rate drive our business decisions – both positive and negative.
For optical sales, the national average capture rate hovers around 50-55%. How does your office compare? If you aren’t where you’d like to be, this is a great opportunity to take a hard look at your frame selection and mix. Do you have the right mix of frames for the patients you are seeing? Are there brands you are missing or that don’t seem to move? Who is making the purchasing decisions, and what strategy are they using?
Some ways to increase capture rate are to increase patient education through storytelling. Why should they buy this frame? Is there a story or unique fact about the brand? What makes it stand out compared to others? The doctor handoff is also key. We have real power in the exam rooms with our recommendations, and what we say matters. Does your patient need a prescription change, single vision only for reading, or new sunglasses? When the patient hears that from us, the optician is now fulfilling a treatment plan, not making a sale.
Start by tracking your patients daily. How many got glasses? What happened to the others? Are there certain styles or price points that are missing? Are patients walking because of perceived price barriers and not seeing value? These are great optical conversations to have.
KPI #3: Patients’ Own Frames
Patients’ Own Frames, or when a patient replaces lenses in their own frame, is a sneaky optical killer. Patients who are eligible for new frames under their vision care plans are entitled to a new pair — there is no reason to reuse their frames! We also must inspect their frames for any weaknesses and show them where their frames are compromised. Too often we worry about coming across as overzealous salespeople when we know a patient runs a high risk of breakage when reusing a frame. When a patient reuses a frame that breaks, they now have lenses cut for a frame that is unusable, which puts everyone in a bad position. Decreasing your patients’ own frame percentage will have a significant impact on your capture rate and your per-patient revenue.
Making Smart Decisions in Your Optical
While tracking optical metrics can seem daunting (there are so many!), starting with these three will make it more manageable and impactful. Pick just one to start tracking per quarter and set specific, measurable goals, with good communication among everyone in your office. Celebrate your milestones and successes, and make it a true team approach. Making smart, analytical decisions that are non-emotional allows you to run your practice as the business it is.