How the optom to DO handover can DECREASE your sales

Everything that happens to a client while they are in your practice can influence your sales revenue up or down.

If the very first thing they see when entering the practice is a miserable receptionist chewing on a wasp, then you are fighting a downhill battle from there on. That person’s spend will be lower and your chance of retaining them in the future will decrease.

OK, so that example is kind of obvious (although my team, who visit 10+ practices a week, still see it on a regular basis).

Here’s a better example of the damage you or your staff can do to your sales: The optom can hand back to the DO in totally the wrong way, and inadvertently destroy the DO’s chances of getting a sale at a decent value.

There are at least seven different ways the optom might do this – and that includes optom practice owners as well.

Let me tell you about the top three.

Handover mistake 1: The optom tells the client not to buy anything new

They do this by telling them there is no change in their prescription. That’s a disastrous phrase to use!

“No change” is interpreted as “you don’t need to buy anything”. It’s such a powerful way to kill sales, that it can even put off people who were determined to buy something anyway.

I recently spoke to a practice owner who had just dealt with a client complaint. An elderly lady stormed into his practice demanding to see him, about the eye test she had had three days ago. She was furious. Any why? Because she had owned her glasses for more than 10 years and fancied some new ones… but the optom had said to her: “Your prescription hasn’t changed so there’s no need for you to buy new glasses”!

She had sat at home stewing for three days. And the reason she wanted to meet with the practice owner was to ask for special dispensation to buy new glasses anyway!!

This is why the phrase “no change” must be swapped for “stable prescription”. And you have to stop your optoms from thinking they are doing people a favour by telling them they don’t need new glasses. They’re not. All they’re doing is killing sales.

It’s not down to us to decide whether or not someone is going to buy new product. It’s down to them. People buy when they’re ready to buy. And sometimes they are ready to buy even when there is no real need to buy.

The worst thing we can do is pre-judge what someone will or won’t buy. That scruffy client you see once a year? They might be a millionaire with a penchant for £4k frames. That lady that says “I don’t want to spend much” is actually thinking no more than £200… but you’ve just taken her to the £99 range.

Handover mistake 2: Not passing the authority back to the DO

It’s really important to look at your practice through the eyes of your clients. Most of them don’t really know what’s happening (or care), they just want their eyes tested and their products prepared.

They don’t really know the difference between an optom and a DO. Yes, some do, but the majority don’t. We’re all just opticians to them. The one big difference is that they have a huge amount of trust in their optom.

After all, they trust that person with their most precious sense. They completely understand that what happens in the test room is a healthcare procedure; necessary to keep them healthy.

And an eye test is such an intimate procedure when you think about it. You are physically close to someone in a private, darkened room. Clients have immense amounts of trust in their optom. And a good optom will efficiently pass that authority to the DO.

The worst kind of handover involves the client going back to sit in the waiting room until the DO is free. Every minute that passes… the likely value of the dispense is going down.

The best kind of handover sees the optom directly introducing the DO immediately after the test. The optom actually tells the client the benefits of having this person continue to look after them, and why they will do such a great job.

This is a process called pre-framing. It sets up the DO to take the authority from the optom. We give our clients a “guide script” to help them implement it correctly.

OK, I know this isn’t always practical and timings can be tricky sometimes. But if you can do it like this most of the time, you will see an increase in sales.

Handover mistake 3: Not telling the client what to buy

This goes hand in hand with passing the authority. And it’s where you get the optom to summarise to the client what they should buy… I don’t just mean in lens choice here, I mean physically taking them to the frames you really want them to look at!

I hope you don’t think I’ve crossed a line there. As this whole article demonstrates, the DO alone isn’t responsible for product sales. Their job is to close the sale. It’s the entire client journey that dictates your conversion rate and average dispense value.

Our clients who get their optoms to physically take a client to a range of frames and recommend they look at them – and importantly tell them why they should look at them – typically see better sales.

Article by Richard Pakey FBDO

© Independent Practice Growth UK 2014. First published in 2012. This article can only be re-published with written permission.