SUNNY PROSPECTS

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—This past winter seemed like it was never going to end. Now that it has, people are excited about the warmer days ahead””and those cool sunglasses they’ll be sporting throughout the next two seasons. UV protection is a year-round issue, though, and quality sunwear presents a large opportunity for your optical sales regardless of the date. Since you typically see the average patient once every 12 to 24 months, don’t wait until it’s “sunglasses weather” to discuss their importance. Take every opportunity to explain how sunwear can improve eye health in a host of everyday situations. Discuss how drivers constantly battle sun glare during their commute all year. Talk about how parents who watch their kid’s sports team from the sidelines often squint into the sun from the spring well into the fall, or how simply walking down a city street often presents troubling glare that reflects off buildings.

The key to boosting sunwear sales is getting your staff on board and implementing your approach consistently. Simply asking a patient how she’s doing with her current sunglasses gently suggests that the pair she has might be old or not very good anymore. It might make her realize how outdated they are and inspire her to get something trendier.If you don’t ask this simple question, it’s a missed opportunity.

Using a lifestyle questionnaire or having technicians ask particular questions before patients enter the exam room can also be quite effective. If you can get patients focusing on what their needs are, you’re a step closer to making a sale. Inquire about their hobbies and bring up scenarios that will lead them to thinking about problems. Try asking, “When you’re driving in the sun, what sunglasses are you relying on?” The goal is to make them question whether their sunglasses, if they wear them at all, are as good as they should be.

Also aim to get your contact lens patients into sunglasses. A large percentage of new fits go on to purchase non-prescription sunglasses within days of starting to wear their contacts. Offering these patients an incentive to buy from you helps keep sunglass sales in your practice.

If a patient says no to spending money on sunglasses because they’ll lose them, I simply reply: “If they’re important to you, you’ll be careful. How many times have you lost your cell phone?”

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