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  April 2, 2014

Give Specialty Lenses a Sporting Chance to Generate Business

By Jay Binkowitz and Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, dba Contributors

Decide today. Am I in the sports eyewear business or not? The best way to fail is to go into it halfway.

For example, a halfhearted effort might be having one display of 10 pieces of sports googles, three golf glasses, and keeping those multi-colored lens displays in the office hidden in a cabinet. Opticians don't mention sports unless the patient specifically asks. Does this sound like your optical?

A 360-degree approach is ideal and must include everyone on your staff. Like musicians in an orchestra, each person on your team plays their part. Getting them involved and immersed in your plan will work successfully in any category of sports eyewear—children's sportswear, safety sportswear (sports goggles), golf sunglasses, running/biking glasses, and many more.

Imagine the patient experience. They sign onto your website and there are pictures of people playing their favorite sport. They walk into the office and see similar pictures and signs with the sport that they play. On the intake form it asks them what sports they play, and they can mark off what eyewear they already own. They go into the exam room, and the doctor asks questions about how often they play, if they are happy with their performance, and if they're looking for an edge to improve performance. She then advises the patient based on their needs.

Then the doctor hands off the patient to the optician and explains the recommendation. The optician walks the patient into the showroom where there is a large selection of styles. The patient chooses a frame, and the optician tells them a story of how these glasses have helped others improve their performance. If they are purchasing these as a second pair, the optician explains the great packages you have available and outlines the savings. He then tells her about your WOW Warranty that covers the glasses for a year unconditionally if anything happens. We are here to protect your investment and help improve your performance.

To accomplish this story in your optical, there are many components to follow:

Point-of-Purchase and marketing materials start the process: Both your website and the merchandising within your practice should showcase the sports eyewear of your choice.

Ask questions at intake: Your intake forms should at least ask what sports your patients play and what current sports eyewear they own.

Doctors ask more questions and make recommendations in the exam room: Create scripts and have your ECPs practice together to make uniform recommendations. It's important that regardless of which doctor you see, you'll get the same recommendation for your needs.

Opticians tell a story behind each product: Opticians should have a few stories under their belts to illustrate the benefits of each product. They should be true and express a point. Here's an example for children: "A young girl and her mom were here recently and purchased sports glasses for softball. Her mom said she wasn't very good and had a hard time hitting the ball. A month after she got her new sports glasses, she came in and told us how her batting improved and that she loves playing softball so much more now!"

Here's an example for golfers: "Our other patients who are avid golfers have had great benefits from their golf sunglasses. It lets their eyes relax during their game and makes the white ball stand out better against the green grass. It even helped their after-dark and low-light performance because when your eyes are protected from the sun during the day, your vision is more clear and crisp at night."

Opticians show a large selection of eyewear with more than one color per style: Your selection should be large enough to make sure everyone is comfortable shopping in your office. That means you should have at least 14 glasses available per sport, and each style should be available in two colors.

Use second pair packages and show savings where applicable: Create second pair packages and promotions that run for 90 days at a time. Market them on your website, and test which are more impactful for your patients. Each office has different dynamics and demographics, so it's not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Reinforce the sale with the warranty: Any time someone makes a purchase they want to know that their investment is protected. Offer an unconditional warranty, with a small co-pay to defer costs, and prevent abuse.

When you decide to join the sports eyewear business, don't enter it halfheartedly. Be sure to give it a sporting chance. Follow the suggestions above, develop some techniques of your own, give it your all, and you'll be in a solid position to score with sports eyewear.


Jay Binkowitz, optometric business consultant, is chief executive officer and president of GPN, exclusive provider of The EDGE.




Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, is chief information officer of GPN, Exclusive Provider of The EDGE. Contact Jay and Evan directly at

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