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  July 10, 2013
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Show Them the Money:
Financial Incentives Improve Sales

By dba staff

Paying the optical dispensing staff more money as a reward for reaching and exceeding sales goals is an effective way to encourage them to sell more. It's a basic and simple tactic that many mid-size regional and local optical retailing groups use to achieve success. Some pay "spiffs" for selling add-ons while others pay a percentage of overall sales. When sales goals are not achieved, incentives are not paid, and in some cases there are even penalties.

The following companies told dba how they use financial incentives to encourage their dispensing staff to reach and surpass their goals: Gordon A. Bishop, FNAO, ABOC, RO, CEO and president, Sunland Optical; Matt Matthews, president, Crown Vision Center; Mark Johnson, director of optical services, Virginia Eye Institute; and David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler.


Do you pay your opticians and/or dispensing associates for surpassing certain sales goals?


Gordon A. Bishop, FNAO, ABOC, RO, CEO and president, Sunland Optical, El Paso, Texas

Sunland Optical has two rewards systems for employees who meet or surpass specific goals or guidelines for sales for the month.

All of our opticians are paid spiffs for selling specific lens options that "benefit the patients overall visual experience." For example, AR coatings, Trivex materials, photochromic lenses, etc. We don't spiff frames as we believe that just leads to spikes in usage of specific manufacturers' frame products. If any patient returns the product, the opticians lose the spiffs paid for the product sold. We do monitor this to ensure that no overselling occurs. We have seen multiple locations double their AR percentage along with their photochromic percentage.

We also have managers in specific locations who earn bonuses based on meeting their overall monthly sales goals, in addition to having to meet specific controllable expense ratios such as wages, remakes and cost of sales. If a location hits its sales goals and is not profitable for the month, due to wage or cost of sales issues, no bonuses are paid.

This, in our opinion, trains the manager that although it may be great to hit sales goals, they must control their costs in the areas in which they do have control. We have seen a greater appreciation in the overall financials from our managers who are on this program.


Matt Matthews, president, Crown Vision Center, Alton, Ill.

At Crown Vision Center, our commissions are unit based. We reward the sales of specific items vs. a percent of overall sales. We have a district management structure to communicate and promote the program. We also post top sales results (the score and the person) on the company's intranet site. We rolled out our high definition progressives two years ago using a strong dispenser incentive and took them from a percent of total progressives from near zero to over 50 percent in a few months.



Mark Johnson, director of optical services, Virginia Eye Institute, Richmond, Va.

At Virginia Eye Institute we do have an incentive program for our opticians and a separate one for our optical site managers. Both programs are paid out quarterly.

Our opticians have to meet certain thresholds in premium product sales such as non-glare, poly, high index, polarized, progressives and Transitions. Once the threshold is met the optician receives a dollar per pair per premium add-on. For example, a pair of polycarbonate, Transitions, non-glare, Varilux Comfort DRx lenses sold is equal to a $4 incentive. The threshold can be increased when necessary.

Our managers' incentive is determined by the site's performance and meeting quarterly sales goals in premium products along with the overall gross sales goal. They get a certain dollar amount per goal reached and earn up to $400 per quarter.

We keep track of optician and site performance on a daily basis, and this is all shared with each individual via a productivity report. Since the information has been available each individual knows where they stand in regards to their goal and the site goal. We have seen huge improvement in premium sales percentages such as 70 percent non-glare, 72 percent poly, and 73 percent of all multifocals sold are progressive lenses.


David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler, Alexandria, Va.

For our sales staff, one of their bonuses is a monthly percentage of their sales. This number is cut in half if the office does not reach a predetermined monthly production goal. Performance below a baseline is therefore penalized.


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