Am I really going to ask you if you’re prejudiced in an optical trade magazine? Oh boy, just think about the hornet’s nest this question can open. Well, I don’t want to get into the concept of prejudice as it relates to your relationship with other human beings that are different than you are. To some degree, all of us are prejudiced, myself included. It’s human nature. To prejudge someone with very little information is a quick fix for our brains. However, a quick fix for thinking things through is hardly ever a good idea. Let’s talk about optometric and optical prejudice. Most of us have been told to never prejudge a patient’s pocketbook. It’s really good advice. Yet, I still hear stories of this prejudging and see it happen first hand. What seems to be the problem? I mean, you already know not to do this and yet... Could the problem be that the person who told you not to prejudge the pocketbook didn’t actually show you how not to do that? Let me give you another way of viewing prejudging the pocketbook. Take a look at this:
These are eyes. No really, they are. And, as an eyecare professional, seeing to the health and visual well being of eyes is what you do. You don’t need me to tell you this, of course.
But let me ask you a few questions regarding these eyes. What can you tell me about this person just from looking at their eyes? Male or female? Well yes, she is female; did the mascara give it away? Can you tell me whether or not she is married? If she’s a mother? What she does for a living? Where she lives? What kind of car she drives? How much money she makes? How much money she’s worth? No, you can’t, can you? The sign on your office doesn’t read ABC Optometry and Financial Planning, does it? Does it read XYZ Optical and Psychic Reader? I didn’t think so. Then it would be safe for me to tell you this: You are not your patient’s financial planner, accountant or banker. You are not a psychic or mind reader. And you are not their spouse nor their mommy or daddy either. So what are you to them? You are their eyecare professional. They actually walked into your office and entrusted their eyes and their vision to you.
Some of you might feel that it’s the nice thing to do... to protect your patients from spending too much money. Actually, just the opposite is true. Who are you to make these financial decisions for them? You don’t need me to tell you that once the results from the eye exam have been established you should always offer your patients the very best products that will ensure accurate and comfortable vision. Yes, no matter what the cost. No matter what coverage they have. Cost, insurance, money, etc. is none of your business. Your business is to give them the best optical choices, share with them the price of everything and let them determine what choices are best for them. Once they understand their eyewear needs, they will be able to make the decision that will be best for their vision and their pocketbooks.
Robert C. Bell is president (and head coach) of EyeCoach, an organization designed to teach and coach innovative and industry-specific sales techniques to eyecare professionals. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.