Published in Non-Clinical

How to Equip Your Optical For Success

This is editorially independent content
6 min read

Review five tips for building the foundation for a successful optical to boost your optometry practice's profits through frame and lens sales.

How to Equip Your Optical For Success
It is undeniable that glasses sales are a large part of revenue for any optometry practice with an optical. This means having a successful optical is key to a thriving practice. Laying a strong foundation will allow your optical to grow to great heights.
Here are five blocks to build upon for a successful optical!

1. Determine the optical of your dreams

If you listen to any sort of business consultant, a piece of advice that always comes up is goal setting. Although it's unlikely you’re going to have your dream optical from day one, it's important to establish what you’re working towards. This will help guide decisions like what lenses and frames to offer.
To determine your dream optical, the following five questions are a good place to start:
  1. Do I want my optical to be a large part of my practice, or do I prefer to focus on specialty and medical care?
  2. Is there a certain demographic I’d like to focus on, such as pediatrics, sportswear, or luxury eyewear?
  3. Do I want my optical to be more accessible, where most patients can find an affordable frame they like, or do I want a more high-end experience?
  4. Do I prefer name-brand frame lines or independent ones?
  5. Do I want to offer specialty lens options?

2. Evaluate your practice location

Once you’ve envisioned your dream optical, it's a good idea to think about how that fits your practice location. For example, are you in a more rural area where people might be less concerned with the latest trends or a more urban area where people are more attuned to fashion?
This is not to say you can’t have a boutique-style optical in a rural setting. However, it may take longer to grow a boutique optical in a rural setting since it's probably something new to your patients. On the flip side, being outside the norm can help set you apart and establish your office as a destination for eyewear.

3. Diversify your frames

Having a wider variety of frame styles will make it easier to capture sales. This is not to say that you should have a frame for every patient. You still want to make sure that you are true to your optical vision when selecting frames. However, you should be realistic about what people will purchase. For example, if you want a boutique optical, having only unique, independent lines might be true to your goal but will limit your sales to a certain demographic.

If that’s a conscious decision, that’s perfectly fine, just make sure your business can handle that.

On the other hand, it may make more sense to start with a few independent lines and bring in more as you build your patient base. There is no set formula for the best ratio to carry. However, it is well known that you will make the most profit on high-end frames because your patients are spending more money, or low-cost frames because you can mark them up significantly.
I would recommend using your dream optical and budget as a guide for frame purchases.

4. Streamline products

For both your staff and patients, too many options can get overwhelming and confusing. It's easy to forget that most of your patients have little to no knowledge of optical products. They are coming to you for expertise and do not need to hear about every lens option available.
Too much information leads to decision paralysis and no sale. Having one to two lens options for things like no glare and progressive lens designs makes decision-making easier for patients. Fewer options also make it easier for staff for patient education and input into order systems. Focusing on a couple of products from a specific company also lets you capitalize on volume rebates.

5. Be involved

With optical being such a large contributor to practice revenue, it is mind-boggling to me when I hear that many optometrists choose not to be involved. They leave decisions on what to buy and present to patients up to their staff. This can lead to a very disjointed process!

If certain staff members prefer different products, each patient may get different lenses or frames presented to them.

This negates all of the positives brought up in the last point. At the very least, you should be making sure your staff is all on the same page and reviewing product orders. Having a standardized training program for your opticians establishes which products you want to use. Reviewing procedures and orders with staff daily, weekly, or at the very least monthly will allow you to make sure your optical is cohesive.
It also allows you to correct mistakes or troubleshoot issues before they become larger problems. Leaning on industry reps for additional product training, especially when new products launch, is always a good idea. Spending time to better your optical, whether your practice is new or established, is time well spent. From my own experience, a well-considered optical will lead to practice growth.

In conclusion

Having to create and manage your optical can seem like a daunting task for any optometrist. Most of us get very little training in school on how to run an optical and are likely unfamiliar with many frame vendors and lens products.
It’s important to tactile this area head-on as your optical has the potential to be a huge profit center. In my experience, focusing on the five points above lays a strong foundation and leads to optical success.
Alexandra Copeland, OD
About Alexandra Copeland, OD

Alexandra (Troy) Copeland, OD FAAO graduated from the ICO and completed a residency in low vision rehabilitation at Salus University.

She is the owner of Innovative Eye Care in Kalamazoo, Michigan where she provides both primary and low vision services to her patients. When not working, Alexandra enjoys visiting new restaurants, skiing, and reading.

Alexandra Copeland, OD
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