In January of this year, I posted a blog hoping to draw your attention to 3 important drivers of your business to focus on in 2020. These were capture rate, retention, and increase your average sales price (ASP) per sale.
Who could have foreseen the events that have transpired in our world over the last 5 months? The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken all of us to the core. Most non-essentialbusinesses were closed down for some period of time; many for months.
The optical industry was hit as hard as any. Most offices closed to all but emergency services. Opticals were shuttered or left to just do repairs and adjustments. Overall the industry saw up to an 85% reduction in sales. We are coming back strong but still learning to live in the new normal. While we could debate whether all of this caution was warranted or not, the facts remain, we all lost sales. Increasing your optical capture rate has never been more important than now.
In this new world we will see unit sales numbers drop due to social distancing. Most offices are spacing patients out by doing fewer exams per hour. We are minimizing the number of folks in the optical and office. You probably are seeing fewer patients per day than pre-COVID. This might be the perfect time to start tracking your capture rate as you have a bit more time between patients.
Why is your capture rate important?
In review, studies have shown that 20-40% of the patients that get the Rx in your office are not getting their glasses filled there. They are walking right out of your office and going to purchase their eyewear elsewhere.
Some studies I have read say that if you are keeping 60% of your patients you are doing better than average. We need to move this average up if independent optical is going to thrive. We are all losing business to big-box and online retailers.
Do you know what your capture rate is?
If your answer is no, we have a simple spreadsheet you can download for free that will help you. Save it to your computer and simply take a few minutes each day to fill in the blanks for 1 month. Along with tracking your capture rate, it will also track your optical's average sale price (ASP), non-glare (AR), Transitions, and 2nd pair sales. This is yours to do with what you want. Feel free to make changes that work better for your needs.
After a couple weeks of tracking, you should have enough data collected to have a good idea of just what your capture rate is. This baseline will be your springboard to growth.
Once you have your baseline, your next step is to figure out why patients are leaving without purchasing. Take a minute and give a few of them a call. Ask them what kept them from purchasing in your optical. I am sure some of their answers will be surprising.
Take this input and make the necessary changes to combat these losses. It might be as simple as making sure there is a better hand-off between the doctor and optician. It's at this point that the doctor can introduce the patient to the optical staff member and “prescribe” add-ons based upon the patient’s needs. This is a very important moment in building a better capture rate that will help raise your ASP and add-on percentages.
You might find that you are not offering enough options with your frames. Add a few designer options that your patients are looking for. Make sure that your lens offerings cover all of your patients' needs. Do you have a three-tier progressive offering with good, better, and best to cover all of your patients’ needs and price points? You might also need to add value options to compete with big-box and online price points.
Stick to your guns by offering premium products like Varilux and Shamir or Heritage Plus and Legacy Pro. You should also have a value alternative such as Shoreview, Hoya Amplitude, or Heritage ready to save a sale.
Smaller sales are better than no sale at all. Often with the pricing on these value PALs, your margins will not change that much, but it will help your bottom line tick upwards.