Present, Making Outdoor Eyewear Understood
By Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM; John Lahr, OD, and Gail Israel, ABOC
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Expiration Date: September 1, 2014
Upon completion of this course, the participant
should be able to:
- Understand the component parts of a preventive discussion.
- Be able to clearly communicate and merchandise outdoor eyewear to patients.
- Be able to train new doctors, opticians or paraoptometric staff about Prescribe, Protect and Present.
John Lahr, O.D., FAAO is vice president of provider relations and medical director of EyeMed Vision Care.
Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM is
currently director of education for
Information LLC, has
more than 40 years
of experience as an
optician, was senior
staff member of
and is a frequent lecturer and trainer.
Gail Israel, ABOC, is a field sales trainer and regional sales manager for Luxottica.
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Course SWJM255-1.
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC).
This course his supported by an educational grant from LUXOTTICA
We can all agree—UV exposure and high-energy visible (HEV) light is a clinical concern.
In fact, a long and continued discussion of the
effects of sunburn, cataracts and potential
cancers with patients can become very "dark."
However, if everyone in the office has already
added his or her part, the next step is the fun
part. It's time to wrap that protection and
prevention in a fabulous looking pair of
outdoor specs. What do we mean?
Eyecare involves treating a person for their
medical and preventive needs. That person is
called a patient, and they make an appointment for an exam because they need to see.
Outdoor eyewear is the retail product where
the patient becomes a consumer who wants to
look as good as they are able to see... while
they protect their eyes. This is the opportunity
to beautifully finish what was started at that
critical pivot point—reception. Patients visit
when they need an exam or when there's
a problem. In fact, many patients' attitudes show that they won't buy eyewear
between exams; instead they wait for
the exam and a new prescription.
How do we convert a patient to the fun
side of retail optical while ensuring that
all the clinical care is covered? Turn the
Patient into a Client. Presentation therefore is the key to making this transition.
TURN PATIENTS INTO CLIENTS
Patients are defined as having needs and most
people would rather spend money on a want
rather than a need. Fig. 1 defines the motivators that affect patients and the ways to turn
them into a client, i.e., a satisfied purchaser.
Patients have needs. Parts 1 and 2, Protect
and Prescribe addressed those needs and
offered the research and medical expertise
required to validate the need for outdoor eye-wear. As the patient moves to the retail optical side of the office, they are transitioning to a
shopper and environment is key. As you are
able to present (in print, online and visually)
and define (verbally) how each product delivers protection wrapped in style, they become a
purchaser. That requires a desirable number
of products from which to select, and the customer service to back up your promise. If all
this is virtually flawless, they become a client.
LOOKS AND FEELS
LIKE OTHER RETAIL STORES
Why is it so important that the optical environment, after the exam, rival other retail
experiences? Today's consumers choose the
place of business they feel will best meet their
individual needs and wants. Since all of us are
better informed than in past years, we expect
the entities we choose to do business with to
be knowledgeable, able to answer questions
and provide options that are best suited to
enhance the quality of our lives. However, in
eyewear, we are sought out for our expertise
since the majority of the public knows little
about eyewear, let alone the requirement for
quality outdoor eyewear. Recommend products that treat all the visual needs of your
customer, not just one aspect of their daily
activities. Remember they chose your place of
business because they perceive that you offer
the best health care and eyewear.
ONLINE, VISUAL, VERBAL
Print: Set the stage for the customer. Have
print documents on hand. Download material
from the OAA.org SUN Initiative website.
Consider using SUN Facts with every patient.
For example, SUN Facts tell patients to always
wear outdoor eyewear with 100 percent UVA
and UVB protection while outdoors, get kids
into sunglasses when outdoors and choose
frames that deliver the best protection like
wraparound sunglasses. Then describe how
plano or prescription lenses will eliminate
UVA and UVB from the front, and how the
coverage of the frame will reduce damaging
rays from the side and top. Then be sure to tell
everyone that this applies particularly for kids,
starting with toddlers.
Consider handing the patient an Outdoor
Eyewear checklist at reception check-in. It
asks what eyewear patients use for their
outside vision activities. It helps begin the
transition from clinical to retail. For example,
the chart below is a targeted lifestyle questionnaire that addresses the easiest "other pair"
which patients can understand. In fact, some
opticians are extremely successful in selling
and dispensing driving glasses. Why? Driving
in the bright sun is very uncomfortable and
is immediately understood by the patient.
The solution: Sunwear for driving turns them
quickly into customers. The right sunwear for
driving helps make them a client. Use this
chart as an example, add other examples and
remember to be specific.
Online: Consumers are online every day, so
it's essential to add discussions about the
outdoor effects of the sun's rays to your own
online activities. Add the links from the SUN
website for material directed at consumers to
your office website. We have a list of links on
On your website, display the SUN logo
and information about the initiative. Visit the
website for a downloadable image and text.
If you have a blog, consider using some of
the language from these three CE courses
in your blog. List 20/20 in the credits and
include links to the relevant material.
For those offices with Facebook and Twitter
pages, consider posting: "Did you know that
children's eyes receive up to three times the
annual sun exposure of adults? Come in, try
on these Ray-Ban Juniors and learn more."
Or: "Kids' eyes are especially susceptible to
UV-related harm because the crystalline lenses
in their eyes are more transparent to UV
than adults. You're sure to get 100 percent
UVA and UVB protection for your kids with
quality outdoor eyewear from our office."
Then add a variety of pictures about products
that absorb 100 percent UV like photochro-mics and polycarbonate.
In addition to the Facebook posts and
tweets, present outdoor eyewear options in
an e-mail marketing campaign before and
between appointments. If you don't already,
request e-mail addresses from patients so you
can communicate with them between exams
about important eye health issues, new products and upcoming events in the office. Most
importantly, be sure that you have a privacy
policy in place, patients opt-in or are in agreement by furnishing their e-mail addresses to
receive your communications, and the policy
is available on your website and in print. The
policy should describe how you use their private information. Next, consider an excerpt
from SUN Facts with your own personal
message in an e-mail to all patients (an example is on the SUN website).
Digital coupons like Groupon can be used to
highlight your office as well as deliver an offer
for new outdoor eyewear. The advantage of
digital advertising is the audience that receives it is larger than your own records' database. As
a result, the offers can attract new as well as
existing customers for specific products.
Visual Merchandising: The art of displaying
merchandise to communicate its availability
and enhance its sales appeal is called visual
merchandising. To communicate the opportunities of outdoor eyewear, make sunwear:
- Easily seen.
- Touchable and accessible.
- Available in enough choices but not too
- Visible with clear cues to their price
In the previous course we described
that almost a third of an office's eyewear inven
tory that could be described as outdoor is
required to achieve the targeted goal of 30 percent unit sales (20 percent prescription and 10
percent plano). Therefore displaying it well is
an important part of presentation. Visit www.
opticianshandbook.com/visual-merchandising.aspx for a variety of ideas and a broader
discussion of eyewear and sunwear display.
Add printed signage or point-of-purchase
materials that describe the variety of products
sold. Consider placing small cards with messages on frame displays or shelves to trigger
the idea in the customer. For example, you
might add, "Outdoor Eyewear is an Essential
Part of Eyecare" or "Any Frame Can Be
Made into Outdoor Eyewear, Ask Us How."
This can trigger a discussion from the customer or act as a reminder to the optician.
The review of SUN Facts and a serious
discussion puts you in a protective and preventive relationship with the patient. If the
original intent of the office visit was a new
prescription and a pair of glasses, the sun
discussion implies purchasing more than one
item. There's a difference in expectations
now from "let's select a frame" to "let's go
shopping." At the grocery store you use a cart;
the drugstore, a basket; online, a virtual cart,
so to shop for eyewear get a shopping tray and
let the fun begin. For more information about
multiple pairs, see www.opticianshandbook.
Verbal: To start an outdoor eyewear discussion, try these:
"What glasses do you use for driving? Daytime, nighttime?" Then provide counsel as
to the optimal lens choices:
"The different colors of outdoor lenses filter
light in different ways, and
that's an important choice.
Colors should be chosen by
activity and sport, and there
are, in fact, preferences for
color and density (darkness
of lenses) by age. For example, dark gray is great on the
ocean, browns for rivers
and streams, dark gray for
general use outdoors when you're young,
but since brown lenses enhance contrast,
they're usually preferred as we get older."
Always offer, "Can I answer any questions?"
"For outdoors, we only use the most highly
impact resistant lenses since we never know
what might happen when performing activities
outdoors. These lenses also are 100 percent UV
(A and B) radiation absorbing while they also
absorb most of the blue light (more recently
HEV is linked to macular degeneration)."
Then for polarized lenses say, "Polarized
lenses make the best outdoor eyewear, they
eliminate glare, especially reflections off the
road, and from car windshields, enhance contrast for sharper vision and their polarizing
crystals make vision the most comfortable for
all day wear. If you cycle, fish or boat, you
know they're a must. For golf, it's personal
preference but if you fly a plane, since the
new instruments are LCD and also polarized,
they can hide the numbers and scales on the
gauges so they're not recommended. Do you
have any questions?"
"We always add no glare AR to the backs of
sun lenses, which eliminates reflections of
objects behind you (even reflections of your
eyes) which appear very big and bright.
Adding no glare makes for the best vision in
sunwear. Have I made the
"We like the effects of
various mirrors because
they look cool, and a mirror also makes lenses
about 10 percent darker
when just a little darker is
needed (ocean, beach).
Mirrors also deflect bright reflections, like the intense sun glare when on
"We can do your prescription in _____
(Oakley, Maui Jim, Ray-Ban, Rudy Project,
etc.) sport sunglasses. We use these authentic
wrap prescription programs. Your prescription is digitally enhanced so that vision is the
same in both your flatter eyewear and wrap
sunwear. Then, your prescription lenses are
edged into the frame to look just like this
pair of nonprescription sunglasses. Shall I
complete the order?"
PRESENTING IS ALSO LISTENING
Listening is an important skill of presenting. It
engenders trust since it helps to validate what
the customer is saying. Good listening skills use
more than just your ears. They include good
eye contact, leaning in a bit, folding your hands
if necessary to keep from distracting the
patient, maintaining a smile and paying attention. Try to avoid multitasking at this most
important time. Positive first impressions are
crucial. After reviewing their new prescription
start with a simple question. Consider, "Your
new prescription is clear to me, now tell me the
ways that you use your glasses indoors and outdoors most. I'm especially interested in when
they just don't seem to work as well as you'd
like them to. For example, is driving clear and
comfortable? Do you work outdoors?" Then,
sit back and allow them to tell you their story,
what they are looking for, what they believe
their needs are and how you can help.
PRESENTING THE FRAME
Counseling frame choice is an important
aspect of outdoors—from both the coverage
and safety point of view. As we described in
Protect, coverage is key. Say, "This frame will
make a great sunglass because it fits close and
protects your eyes from light getting in on top
and the sides as well as from the front."
Look for a selection of special fit frames for
those customers with less of a nose bridge
(Asian, African-American, kids) since the typically larger sun frames will otherwise rest on
their cheeks, moving up and down when asked
to smile. For seniors, when side glare is also a
bigger problem, wider temples may help but
also block peripheral vision. Make choices for
temple size with the patient's abilities in mind.
PRESENTING TO MOM
Remember, mothers make the majority of
health care decisions for kids, partners and
often for an elderly parent. Be sure to take the time to talk to mom. She's a key to eyewear
that will work for kids outdoors.
MANAGED VISION CARE (MVC)
You might ask what MVC has to do with presenting sun, outdoor or any kind of complementary eyewear. Since almost all plans will
cover prescription sunwear as a primary pair,
they might be the best recommendation for
the patient whose plan provides an eyewear
benefit every year. I've had some patients use
their benefit every other year for sun, the
opposite for their clear. However, the opportunity exists for that "other first pai" ervery
year. Most of the larger plans offer members
reduced costs when buying additional pairs of
eyewear at the same time or some allow additional eyewear at any time. Therefore, one of
the advantages of a second pair purchase is
that it is also covered by their plan's membership and as a complementary pair, provides a
second financial benefit.
Many offices already offer discounts on multiple pairs to their private pay patients. A
courtesy reduction that exceeds other offers in
eyewear that is purchased at the same time as
either the first pair was ordered or the day
they were dispensed maximizes the opportunity for additional sales and provides a valuable
clinical value for your patients. Remember it is
typically more difficult and very expensive to
get the patient back into the office. In fact,
some offices make multiple pair discounts
higher for eyewear purchased within 30 days
of dispensing. Once patients understand the
advantages of another pair of glasses, they will
always be more open to having a variety of
Here are two methods to suggest the use of
the discount. First, as many of you already do,
use the two-column comparison that shows
the before and after MVC benefit. Highlight
the savings to the customer and how their
vision care benefit covered the basics allowing
them to get the more style and lens technology
than they might have. Then repeat the pricing
again with the outdoor pair. In this case, at the
subtotal, reduce the price by the plan's "additional material" discount. The other method is
to take the plan's discount and bundle it into a
two-pair price using the MVC benefit. Then
compare the without benefit to the fully bundled pricing for two pairs.
Another approach that is often successful is
to describe sunwear first and use the customer's MVC benefit. Then sell the clear pair.
Whichever way, it's your patient who benefits.
PART OF PRESENTATION
Don't forget to accessorize sunwear. That
means the branded case, a microfiber cloth,
bottle of cleaner and anti-fog spray, promise of
tune-ups and adjustments, and literature
about the importance of sunwear, all in an
office branded shopping bag.
Changing a patient to a client and a repeat
customer can only happen when you repeatedly present options and dress them with
printed, audible and visual messages. Outdoor
eyewear is the retail product result of the ideas
started in reception, pre-testing and in the
exam room. The optician or paraoptometric
brings it home. Learn and communicate the
importance of Protect, Prescribe and Present.
Everyone will benefit.