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HomemibusinessTactics to Hold on to Prescriptions

Tactics to Hold on to Prescriptions

Patients who plan to have their eyes tested at your practice, then take their spectacle prescription away with them, have usually decided to do so before they come through your doors… so what can you do to win them over?

Generally speaking, patients looking to buy spectacles have a price-range in mind before they step out to shop. That price range is often influenced by advertising and by purchasing experiences recounted to them by friends, family and colleagues.

So for most, the question becomes, “what value for money can I achieve within that budget?”

Those who arrive at your practice intending to take their prescription with them are usually under the impression that there’s no way you’ll be able – or prepared – to offer them better value than the deal they received on their last specs… that you’ll beat the offer their friend, family member or colleague received down the road last week … or that you can match the offer promoted by an online competitor.

Patients are rarely realistic about the price of products they’ve seen, and are normally not in a position to compare one practice’s offer against another…

But is their recall of that offer really accurate?

According to university studies, consumers’ perceptions of what they spent on a previously bought product can vary by more than 50 per cent from the actual price. So that previous great deal may well be the very same as the one you’d be only too happy to match today.

Yet to convince them of this may not be easy.

The solution is education. You need to educate your patient on a number of levels and with that, to convince them that you are being honest, convincing and clearly acting in their best interests.

Convincing Tactics

There are three valuable tactics you can employ in an effort convince your patient that their decision may need to be changed.

In order of deployment, these are:

“We have what you’re looking for”Almost every practice has the capability and the product to offer deals that can match competitors. If a patient really wants two pairs for AUD$190 you can do that, even though it may not be something you routinely advertise. More importantly, the offer you make can provide your patient with the “value for money” they’re looking for, not just a cheap pair of specs. When asked for the prescription, give them assurance that this will be provided if that is what they want, but don’t leave it at that.

Consider for example responding to a request for a prescription like this: “Of course. I can organise that for you shortly, but I wonder if you would like to have a quick look at what we have to offer? We have a large range of options from very economical right through to high fashion and we know we are no more expensive than other places. Can I get an idea of what you are looking for, then perhaps I can show you a few things?”

Our purpose here is to identify what the patient might be looking for, to find out the gaps in their value picture, and provide the patient with information about what you can do to fill those gaps.

“Can we give you a quote?”

Patients are rarely realistic about the price of products they’ve seen, and are normally not in a position to compare one practice’s offer against an another. However, making comparisons is what they have done in the past and what they’re most likely to do now.

Providing your patient with a quote puts a tangible figure in their mind and links it directly to specific products. But before you provide that quote, it’s important to find out a bit about what the patient is hoping to end up with. This will give you an opportunity to open a discussion and encourage them to try on some frames.

If you do end up giving a quote, be sure to be very specific about the product items you’ve included and advise the customer not to pass the quote on to the competitor – instead, they should specify the exact offering you’ve costed for them and request a quote based on the very same – otherwise the quotes will not be comparable.

Here’s how you could make the point: “No problem Mr. Jones, I’ll get that prescription organised now. I just wondered if we could give you a quote on a pair of spectacles. I am absolutely confident you will find that on the same products we are as inexpensive as, or better than our competitors… and we have a big range of options for you, from very economical basic frames right through to more expensive high fashion.”

As with the first strategy, our objective here is to inform and educate the patient about their options and the differences in price/product positions. When the patient tries on the frames and looks at what you have to offer, there is every chance they will carry through and purchase something.

“There are some things you need to know”Patients buying spectacles generally don’t know much about the purchase they are about to make. This usually means they have to trust the person providing and recommending the vision solution to do the right thing by them and ensure they get a good result. Can the other bloke be trusted? Sometimes… sometimes not.

The final tactic to take involves helping the patient to manage a risk they may not know exists – and that risk is that not everyone sells good quality specs for a good price.

First you can take the moral high ground by explaining that even though the patient wants to take their prescription, you still want to ensure they receive a good result. Then let them know that buying from others is not always positive, and offer to help with information.

Try this: “I will organise your prescription in just a moment, but we always like to make sure you get a good result if you are buying specs somewhere else. Not everyone will make sure you get a quality pair of specs so if you have a couple of minutes, can I show you some important features to look for in quality glasses? That way, you’ll know what to check for.”

Having made the opportunity to show the patient a few important points, make sure you have some prepared samples of good and bad frames and lenses to show. You should also use your own stock (as examples of the better eyewear) because, as with the previous tactic, there is a chance that once the patient becomes involved, they may decide it’s not worth the risk of going elsewhere.

It’s All About Education

Remember, educate, and don’t sell. Your role is to help the patient make an informed choice based on a proposition of “value for money” rather than straight “cheap”. Keep your communication positive. Don’t talk about competitors but about you, and your practice proposition.

Be confident and present well. You need to come across as an expert and that requires real knowledge and practice. So don’t be discouraged by a few knock-backs – these happen all the time and are part of the process. We can’t win them all, but by becoming expert in the three tactics, things should go pretty well. 

Mark Overton Bsc MBA, is the Managing Director of Ideology Consulting. Over 30 years he has gained an extensive portfolio of experience in general management, consulting and professional service roles. Mr. Overton has consulted to optometry practices, public hospitals, federal government medical research institutions and professional associations. He has also lectured at universities.