There’s no doubt about it, once you start discounting stock on a regular basis, you’re on a slippery ride to the bottom – so how can you turn things around, stop your practice from becoming just another discount store and empower your staff to become conscious marketers?
Today consumers are more price-conscious than ever before. Constant retail sales, driven to attract business, have created an expectation that we should never need to pay the full ticket on anything.
To survive our slow economy, once annual sale racks designed to create a sense of urgency (“grab it while you can”) became seasonal sale racks and then monthly. In fact some stores have a permanent dedicated sale stand just to get people through the door.
Celebrations – Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day… even Anzac Day – have become another excuse to offer special prices; often weeks, even months in advance of the celebratory day itself (talk about watering down the excitement).
No wonder the new mantra for most consumers is “I’ll just wait for the sale”.
Yet is that really the way you want to run your business? And for how long can you maintain viability on this basis?
Stop just for a moment to reflect on why you became an optometrist in the first place… was it because you wanted to make a difference to people’s lives? Wouldn’t it be better then to re-focus your business and your team on meeting customers’ needs rather than meeting sales budgets? On giving them the very best eye care rather than just another pair of glasses?
mivision marketing columnist Carolyn Tate, Founding Member of Conscious Capitalism and The Slow School of Business, is a passionate advocate of repositioning business and marketing so it makes a positive, purpose-driven contribution to humanity. She says by providing the highest level of service and expertise to meet each customer’s eye health need on an individual basis, by building positive and lasting rapports with your customers, you’ll find business expansion through word of mouth far outweighs the high turnover /low margin results you achieve by running your business on sales.
“Budgets and customers aside, you’ll experience a much greater sense of personal satisfaction as well.”
Keep it Simple
One of the biggest turn-offs for customers are deals and purchase contracts that are so complex that it’s impossible to understand how much you are paying and for what.
“There are plenty of great examples around: electricity, phones, insurances, finance. The retailer hopes to bamboozle the customer into going with them. Yes, it’s true, sometimes they do win the sale, however the customer goes away with a deep-seated feeling of ill ease and they’re unlikely to recommend the retailer to a friend. Others will reject the offer all together, preferring to stick with what they know – even though they know it’s not optimal,” Ms. Tate said.
Frames and lenses may not be as complicated as electricity but they aren’t necessarily simple. When it comes to helping your customers choose the right package, the notion of keeping it as straightforward as possible makes great sense. Having your frames displayed in price categories will help them immediately identify the products that are within their budget or spending expectations.
A carefully crafted discussion during the consult should provide you with an idea of the patient’s existing knowledge about lens technology as well as the information you need to point the customer in the best lens direction. Then, by explaining the technical features and benefits of one or two most suitable lenses, with appropriate detail, you will be able to help them make an informed decision without feeling overwhelmed. Be careful not to patronise your customers by dumbing down the discussion and never under-sell the lenses.
Too often customers will be shown a lower quality, less expensive lens because the optometrist or dispenser assumes this customer can’t afford anything better. In fact, patients who receive full information about the vision and eye health advantages afforded by the best quality lenses, are more likely to find the money to buy them – who doesn’t want the very best for their eyes.
It’s About the Customer
Many businesses are focused on driving sales simply to meet their own needs… to move old stock out the door in an effort to achieve targets and make way for the new,” Ms. Tate said. “The advertising and promotion they run is totally about them – about how brilliant their service is, how long they’ve been around and how helpful they’ve been within the community.”
You will have seen brochures, posters, ads and signwriting the likes of:
‘PS Eyes has been around for 100 years; we’re the experts on eye health and we’re proudly supporting your local school’.
“Turn that around and make the marketing and sales effort totally customer-centric and you’ll find your sales will increase. Find out what your customers want and need and let them know you have it through direct mail, social media, infrequent e-promotions, shop window displays and personal consultation.
“When you and your staff are genuinely focused on delivering the absolute best product for your customers, they will feel your commitment and your staff will experience the personal satisfaction of having met a customer’s needs to the tee.”
And if you’re doing a great job providing free eye tests to the local school, you can bet people will hear about you… there’s no need to shout it from the rooftops!
Purpose Wins Out
Chances are, when you take a step back to consider why you went into optometry in the first place, then you compare that original motivation with the business you’ve become, you’ll want to make changes. Perhaps it’s the training you provide your staff, the frames and lenses you stock. Hopefully, too, you’ll feel ready to change the way that you charge for your products and services.
Because it’s only when you are confident that the product you’re selling and the care / expertise you’re providing is making a difference to your customers, that you will have the confidence to charge a fair and reasonable price.
Armed with an offering that can make a positive difference, you’ll begin to re-engage all the people around you – your family, employees, suppliers, investors, local community – and these people will become your tribe, generating word of mouth to help you build your product offering and attract more patients to your practice.
Carolyn Tate is a marketer with a passion to reinvent capitalism, business and marketing so that it makes a positive contribution to humanity and the planet.
She is a Founding Member of Conscious Capitalism, the founder of The Slow School of Business and her company is a Certified B Corporation, a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
Ms. Tate loves to write, speak, educate and build conscious business communities that are both purpose-driven and prosperous. She has written four books, her most recent being Conscious Marketing
Ms. Tate is available for purpose and marketing coaching and as a conference speaker. Visit www.carolyntate.co