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Welcome to question of the day #327

Eyetool question of the day#327

Some of my patients take their prescriptions from my practice and buy their glasses online. What can I do to stop losing this business?

I’ve noticed this as well over the last three years or so. There’s a lot of online advertising for prescription glasses. Online retailers have lower overheads than a community practice so they can reduce the retail cost of the prescription glasses they supply.

My experience is that some patients try an online supplier once and then return to a community practice for future glasses.

Your patients probably don’t understand the different measurements that go into fitting lenses and frames. Explain the importance of the PD measurement and why it’s important to have the measurements done by an expert and not by themselves using a mirror. We know that even a 1 mm inaccuracy on the PD can make prescription glasses intolerable to wear. Just being ‘close enough’ to the actual PD isn’t good enough.

Then there are the height measurements for varifocals and bifocals. Measuring from the centre of the pupil to the edge of the lower frame is difficult even for an expert. Something I still get wrong sometimes. Measuring from the lower lid to the lower edge of the frame is difficult even for an expert. Something I still get wrong sometimes. Emphasise the importance of these measurements and the problems that will occur if they are wrong.

Frames and lenses come in a variety of styles and types. Provide value to your customers in the variety and knowledge you can offer on lens types. Online retailers might have checkbox options at checkout for different lens types and tints, most patients don’t understand the differences between one type of lens or coating over the other, or what might be best suited for them. You can help your patients make an educated decision on their lens choice whether it be polycarbonate, plastic, high-index, UV coating, anti-reflective, or tinted.

One huge advantage that you have over online retailers is that your patients can try on every frame you have to offer. While many online retailers offer mail-in home try-on or virtual try-on, neither of those options is as convenient as an entire practice of frames at their disposal.

When the patient comes to collect their new glasses you can fit the frame exactly to their face and ears before they walk out the door to ensure a proper fit, and if anything doesn’t feel right after a few days it’s easy to come back and get them adjusted. This is much more inconvenient with an online purchase.

All this may take an extra 5 to 10 minutes of time spent with the patient but if you can reduce the number turning to an online retailer by 50% (and hopefully more) your practice will be more prosperous.

Make sure all your staff is well versed in the advantages your practice provides when compared to online suppliers.