Essilor’s Varilux Physio Enhanced uses W.A.V.E. Technology 2 to account for Rx, pupil size, light conditions, and viewing distance.
With all the jitters in the marketplace right now, it’s safe to say that eyecare professionals want to make their businesses more valuable to their patients and as profitable as these times will allow. One excellent way of doing this is to incorporate lenses designed and processed properly with free-form technology. Utilizing the right lenses and marketing them, these lenses can be a very practical practice builder.
FREE-FORM ADVANTAGE Lenses designed and processed with free-form technology have a number of advantages for a practice. For example, they represent the latest that the ophthalmic lens industry has to offer. This technology is also revolutionary, not simply new, so it represents a paradigm shift that has the potential to change the way all lenses will be designed and processed. These lenses offer vision-enhancing benefits that patients want…and what patients demand, they usually get. Free-form lenses also can help you enhance your image with your patients if you market the lenses properly. They can also improve your profitability because they are premium products that sell for premium prices. All of these advantages can become practice-building opportunities.
THE LATEST Everybody wants to be in on what’s new. Even when you were a kid, television commercials targeted at you announced, “Be the first kid in your neighborhood to have the new…” fill in the blank with whatever product marketers were pitching at you. It might have been a secret decoder ring, a newly
The Autograph II from Shamir can be manufactured to within 0.01D and provides up to 20% wider fields of vision than conventional designs.
introduced G.I. Joe or Barbie, or even a new brand of sneakers, but it was new and you wanted it! That same powerful spark is present in just about everybody, including your patients. That’s why it’s important that you let every patient know that you now carry the latest in lens design and processing known as free-form technology. Yes, mention this even to your single vision patients because there are now a number of single vision lenses designed and processed with free-form technology on the market.
THE GREATEST Some optical gurus have suggested that lenses designed and processed with free-form technology are superior to conventionally designed and processed lenses. This is potentially true, as long as you start with a good design and process the lenses properly using the right equipment the right way. There are a number of lenses that fall into this category.
For example, the Autograph II® from Shamir Insight, Inc.; the Individual™ from Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.; the HOYALUX® iD® from HOYA VISION CARE, North America; the Varilux Physio Enhanced™ from Essilor of America, Inc.; and the new Surmount™ from Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. are all lenses that fit into these characteristics. These companies have worked hard at coming up with the next generation of lenses that provide admirable results. Offering these lenses is an excellent way to differentiate your practice from others who are content selling “me too” products. Savvy labs such as Luzerne Optical Laboratories and Expert Optical Laboratories carry a wide assortment of free-form lenses, and some lens suppliers (such as Pro Fit Optix) even offer their own lines of free-form
SELECTING THE BEST LENS I often get the question, “Which free-form lens is the best?” That’s not easy to answer because there are too many variables. For example, almost every lens is designed using averaged eye parameters. This means that you can look at lens plots and other technical data, but those illustrations do not necessarily represent what any one individual will experience. The best way to select the brands you’ll carry is to do wearer trials. Fit 10 people with the lenses and assess your results. Keep the ones that work for you and drop the ones that don’t.
designed and processed progressives. With all the choices available in the marketplace, you won’t have any trouble finding good options.
VISION ENHANCEMENT These lenses promise to bring vision benefits such as enhanced contrast, sharper vision, wider fields of view, and more comfortable vision. Improvements such as these are welcomed by patients, so don’t forget to mention them in your lens presentation. Few patients will resist an offer to improve their vision beyond what they currently can obtain with conventional lenses, but they can only get this from an office that specializes in lenses which supply these features.
IMAGE BUILDER While all of these features and benefits are great, by themselves they will not help your practice a bit unless you get the word out. For starters, use these lenses to build your image. By doing so, you’ll help improve your sales because your clientele will see you as a knowledgeable professional who has their best interest at heart.
Offer these lenses to every patient. Why? If they are the best and you’re trying to build your practice, what better way than by offering the absolutely best product you can? It’s a strategy many other successful professionals have used. For example, I’m sure your dentist is not offering you the third-best dental restoration product available, and I bet that store you go to for a good suit or dress carries the best quality too. Your office should be no different.
This demonstrator from HOYA helps ECPs illustrate the benefits of HOYALUX iD lenses.
Make sure you tout the fact that you carry lenses designed and processed with free-form technology on your Web site, in your newsletter, in e-mail blasts, in ads, and in other promotional efforts. Be sure to use high-tech illustrations and clear but simple explanations of the products you carry. Remember, you’re using these products to build your image, so always have that in the back of your mind as you develop your materials.
Work with your lab to develop a promotional campaign that will help inform patients about the merits of these lenses. Most labs will help with the cost of this expense because they stand to benefit from the increased business you’ll bring them as a result of the promotion.
Be sure to have an effective way to demonstrate the features of these lenses. Consider using video clips supplied by manufacturers for this purpose. Through the use of a computer monitor or other video screen, they can be very impressive and will help reinforce the high-tech nature of these lenses.
Some of these lenses require additional measurements, so be sure to mention this as you’re taking them because it all adds to your image.
PROFITABILITY Since lenses designed and processed with free-form technology are premium products, they carry a
TWO SIDES TO CORRECT VISION Barry Santini, a licensed optician in Seaford, NY, and a member of the Optical Retail Business Alliance (ORBA) suggests that there are two aspects to correcting vision, the Rx and the lenses. When discussing lens options with your patients, be sure they understand this. In other words, if they have an accurate refraction, the next thing they’ll need is an excellent lens. You can’t use a so-so lens to correct your vision to its fullest potential. Santini claims this approach really helps him get patients into these new lenses designed and processed using free-form technology.
premium price tag. This usually means additional profit for the office that sells them because of the way most offices mark up their products. This profitability is an attractive strategy in building your business. Offices that concentrate on selling these lenses usually find their lens profits go up nicely…and by a nice percentage (for example, 15% to 20% over conventional progressive lens sales). At the end of the year, this can be a tidy sum.
Another profitability strategy is to negotiate a discount deal with your lab. In other words, work out an arrangement with your lab where it provides a discount on these lenses for your promise to order all your free-form progressives through it. Labs are always looking for ways to bring in more business, and this could be a very good arrangement for both you and your lab.
With all the advantages of lenses designed and processed with free-form technology, it’s the smart optical office that uses them as a practice builder.
Ed De Gennaro is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group.
WHERE TO FIND IT Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.
The Seiko Surmount uses Convex Add-Power Curve Technology to create ultra-thin back-surface PALs.
800-358-8258 • zeiss.com/lenses
Essilor of America, Inc. 800-542-5668 • essilorusa.com
Expert Optics Inc. 800-892-0097 • expertoptics.net
HOYA VISION CARE, North America 877-528-1939 • hoyavision.com