Optometry is fortunate enough to be one of the very few industries that has three major components that need to function at the same time at any given point of time.
The components can be explained a follows:
The academic phase involves all the information needed by the business before a consumer walks into the practice.
It’s the knowledge that every team player needs to have readily available to explain what the consumer’s needs are when that consumer walks into the business.
It`s the kind of information that immediately sets the business apart without any marketing or selling even taking place.
The clinical phase entails all the data that the optometrist needs to have readily available in the test room. Consultation time is very precious and competence regarding how eye examinations are conducted greatly influences the behaviour of consumers.
An opportunity to establish and build a trust relationship between the optometrist and the consumer exists here; missing it will cost the business a potential client.
The final phase of the eye care experience for a consumer is the business phase. This is where the optometric team take off their academic and clinical caps and put on their business caps.
At this stage, having done what was necessary in the first two phases, the trust relationship between has been established and the consumer will be in a position to make decisions that are well informed and beneficial to them
“Consumer Management therefore requires all three phases to be functioning efficiently and cohesively with each other in order for a practice to experience massive success and exponential growth sales.”
With that being said the current optometric process tends to go through the following steps:
[Eye Examination - Spectacle Selection - Pricing and Challenges - Ordering of Management Proposed - Collection of spectacles/ Contact lens instructions and assessment - Follow up]
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this process if you don’t want your business to grow.
However if you want to take your business to the next level and still be able to significantly grow your business in the midst of increasing technological advances, then you have to do things differently.
How then can you manage the consumer in these uncertain economic climates?
1. Prepare for the sale you want.
Consumer records, if in order, can provide you with all the information you need about the consumer.
When it comes to sales, category placement of consumers enable the practice to know what type of individual they are dealing with at any point of time.
This form should be in every file and should be kept up to date every time there is any interaction with the consumer.
This is how it works
First Time Visitor (FTV)
• Indicate whether it is a “walk in” or a “referral”.
• Remember if it is a referral from anyone, thank that person that did the referral.
Follow-Up Visit (FUV)
• Second, third, fourth, etc. eye examination
• Indicate if a new consumer to the practice or from another practice.
• Indicate if single vision, bifocal or multifocal wearer.
• Indicate if using more than one pair of specs.
• Indicate what features are on the spectacles they are wearing.
• Indicate type of lens material.
Contact Lens Wearer
• Indicate type of lenses they use.
• Indicate brand they use.
Medical Aid (M/Aid)
• Indicate the type of medical aid.
• Indicate the plan they on.
• Indicate with (Yes).
The form gives a snapshot of the consumer profile, which is important because:
• The optometrist is able to probe them on as much information as possible, which will highlight what management option will work best for them in relation to the clinical results as well.
• The sales team is able to look for the upgrade potential.
On the bottom of the form, indicate what the consumer does for a living.
2. Change practice behaviour
As a business owner your team should never hear you say the following in any way, no matter what the circumstances are:
• “It`s very quiet these days.”
• “It`s winter and so business is a bit quiet.”
• “We are not doing the kind of sales we used to before.”
• “Patients are not spending on glasses like they used to.”
• The list goes on and on.
You need to stay positive, upbeat and optimistic about the practice every single day. As a team you need to see and speak vision all the time.
If you don`t know why your clients keep coming back to the practice, you will struggle to understand why they are no longer returning.
Consumer mindset has totally changed and getting to the next level of consumer service and excellence will require a different approach from the status quo you are mastering.
Here are some important things to remember when it comes to consumers:
• Listen to the consumer’s concerns and needs.
• Learn consumer names like the store depends on it to survive.
• Every “walk in” is a potential patient.
• Every patient is a potential customer.
• Every customer is a potential client.
• Every client is potentially 5–10 new consumers for your business.
• Every satisfied consumer leads to a new referral.
• Excellent service delivery and experience leads to increased sales.
3. Challenge consumer behaviour
Whenever a consumer says they need time to think about the management option you are proposing, your responsibility is then to do the following:
• Probe them more in a friendly and kind manner to discover what the challenges are.
• If the challenge is a financial one, don’t be too focused on down grading the management option you initially suggested for a cheaper one so that you can get the sale. Be confident in your service, product and pricing and tell the consumer to rather go and save up some money for the management plan. Why? You have to demonstrate the importance of the management plan to their problems and how it will benefit them. Then look at what aspects of the pricing you can adjust for them. They need to see that you care and have their best interest in mind and not just the sale.
• Sometimes that sounds like a challenge, especially when it comes to price, but it is really just a question of how flexible you are willing to be when it comes to the final amount that needs to be made. Get to the real issue by asking the right questions and staying committed to finding a solution that will benefit the consumer and the practice.
• Never be over-bearing to the consumer, it pushes them away. And remember, if they want to shop around for a better deal, it is okay. When you have given them great service and a worthwhile experience for them to remember, they will return irrespective of whether they find something cheaper elsewhere. Your job is to remind them of what you offer and advise that you will match any quote.
• Indicate a specific date and time that you will follow up and do exactly that.
Below is a detailed list of things of Consumer Management Principles:
1. Consumers want you to consult them and not sell to them
• Your responsibility is to provide advice, show support and give honest analysis to them to be able to make an informed decision about what they are buying from you.
2. Consumers want you to listen to them and be able to adapt to their needs
• Patients are more concerned about their problems being solved.
• Customers are focused on adequate management options that are affordable.
• Clients are driven by the relationship that exists between you and them.
What is common with all three types of consumers is the excellent service delivery and experience that they all require.
3. Consumers want you to understand their precise needs and manage that
• This will enable you to upgrade their current management option.
4. Consumers want you to be real with them
• Kindness, genuineness and honesty bridge the gaps between you and the consumer and make the communication around sales more effective.
5. Consumers cannot assess cost effectively but they can determine the value of what they are purchasing
• They look at what they will be losing if they don’t buy versus what they will be gaining if they do buy.
• Your job is to demonstrate that for them and help them make the right decision in the end.
What is the take home message in all of this?
Consumer Management is not that difficult if you understand the consumer and their individual needs, and are able to cater for those needs.
Remember, no matter what type of consumer you are dealing with, excellent service delivery and experience is paramount to any sales execution.
Excellence should be the order of the day, nothing else and nothing less.
Great service delivery in any environment results in increased sales and profits in any environment.
The one forms the foundational basis of the other one.
You can have the most beautiful practice, great team members on board and amazing systems and products, but if the processes don’t result in great service delivery from the business, sales will continue to decrease.
Three key areas of the business determine what level of service delivery exists in it:
• To what extent is the business committed to addressing the needs of everyone who walks through the doors?
• Is the entire team ready to meet the needs of the people coming into the business?
• Are the products and processes of the practice well suited and channeled to provide solutions for the business?
• Big-picture mentality: Is the vision of the business clear and simple to execute and does everyone on the team know what is expected of them to deliver excellent results?
• Are the big three in place daily: Responsibility, Accountability and Authority? It must be clear what needs to be done, when it should be done and who must do it. • How the business`s people, processes and products communicate with the
consumer determines how the consumer`s finances communicate with the business.
• Redefine the standards, exceed expectations in carrying out your tasks.
• Implement excellence every time. If it is average, don’t bother doing it. That means the team needs to set high standards for themselves in relation to what they want to achieve within the business each day.
• Keep improving: Know what the needs and expectations of the patient, the customer and the client are so that you know how and what to exceed on.
Service delivery in a business is what yields the sales in the business.
When the service is functioning at an optimum, the sales will be at a maximum.
Leadership (People Development/Empowerment) + Great Service Delivery = Increased Sales and Profits