New FSA Rules and Successful Multi-Location Practices in This Month’s dba


Until this year, patients had to use it or lose it in regards to their flexible spending accounts. Now, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service modified the ruling to allow plan participants to carry over $500 of their unused health FSA balances into the following year. In this month’s edition of dba at, leading regional optical retailers describe their techniques for encouraging patients to use their flex dollars before the year ends and if they are making any changes in reaction to the ruling change.

Also in dba this month, a profile of Rinkov Eyecare Centers focuses on how this seven-location practice based in Columbus, Ohio, built a foundation for growth to navigate the growing influence of managed vision care plans and increasing competition from online retailers. The latest average frame sale prices as reported by The Vision Council’s VisionWatch are presented in dataPoint, and the eMedia section shows how a five-location operation in Massachusetts keeps its doctors’ schedules full with Brevium’s patient reactivation technology.

In the article below, success coaches from the Gateway Professional Network share some techniques for turning patients into customers for your optical dispensary. ■


Building a Team that Encourages Patients to Be Consumers and Buy

When a patient walks out of the exam room and into the optical dispensary they become a consumer. Consumers expect an experience, so how can you give them what they want while leading them in the direction of the eyewear that’s best for them? While developing a consistent, efficient team across multiple locations, consider the secrets that high-performing, multi-location practices follow to create that great experience consumers are looking for.

Empower and Motivate the Team
You set the tone of the practice. How do you address the group of people who work in your office? Think carefully of the words you choose as it affects performance. Use “team” not “staff” and “personnel” not “employee” because people perform at a higher level when they feel a part of something bigger than themselves. In addition to properly referring to the team, doctors should also sincerely engage and appreciate each member’s contributions.

When initiating new routines or to make existing routines consistent, schedule weekly practice sessions. This is role playing in disguise. The bulk of your weekly meetings must involve practicing. Create short-term “mini games” to jumpstart a growth initiative, and pay a bonus, monthly over three months, for achieving the goal. For example, selling more Transitions lenses is a growth goal which returns incremental revenue, so create and practice a script such as, “Transitions are essential when you forget your sunglasses!”

Develop or buy excellent scripts for every department and make them patient-centric. All team members should, first, write the scripts in “their voice” and then refine them for most effective wording and impact.

Optometrists benefit from scripts as well. For example, doctors use retinal images to support second pair incremental revenue. Point to the macula and advise: “Without the macula [right here] you can’t live independently anymore, so what I’ll prescribe today will improve your odds and reduce your risk of potential future blindness as well as guard against lid cancers from ultraviolet radiation, too.”

Comfortable and Confident Consumers Will Buy
Using “social proof” has more impact than first person recommendations. Social proof is the power of telling patients what other patients gained from your advice. It’s the herd principle at work. People want to know what others do, did, or gained from an experience, so tell them! For example, add the following to your script: “We do this for patients every day and they love it!”

If patients will be handed off to the optical dispensary by anyone other than a direct doctor handoff, a checklist of doctor advice including why it’s being prescribed is a must. Doctors can make opticians “my lens expert” by introducing them to patients as such.

These are just some examples of how scripts can empower your team and subsequently turn your patients into consumers. ■

—Jay Binkowitz and Mark Hinton

Jay Binkowitz, optometric business consultant, is chief executive officer and president of GPN. Mark Hinton owned and operated primary eye health practices and is a success coach with GPN.


For more from the current edition of "dba: Doing Business in Optical’s Local Markets," (as well as archived issues), click here.