As consumers continue to feel the effects of the current economic crisis, many are questioning the value of optical products and services, including what they perceive as high markups on eyewear. Under the glare of such scrutiny, it is important that the optical industry be able to explain the value of the products and services we provide.

If you’re a retailer or dispenser, tell your customers about the care that goes into designing and manufacturing a quality frame or lens. Point out the skill involved in dispensing a pair of glasses or contact lenses. Make sure your office staff and salespeople are knowledgeable and professional in their dealings with customers. And don’t forget to spruce up the look of your office or store so it’s as attractive as possible.

You might also consider leasing or purchasing some new equipment, such as one of the new centration systems that are designed to measure monocular PD, vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt and face form. These high-tech devices are increasingly being used to fit patients with progressive lenses that require the maximum degree of accuracy. Not only will they help you dispense better fitting eyewear, but customers will also be impressed with the precision and sophistication it adds to the dispensing process.

These days it’s wise to offer customers a choice of a premium product or more affordable alternatives. By presenting your best brands alongside a lesser known but good quality brand, you’ll give all your customers a choice they’ll be comfortable with, no matter what their budget may be. That way, they’re likely to remain loyal customers.

Now is the time to reassure consumers about the value of their eyewear and eyecare. If we don’t, consumer confidence in our products and services will erode, and that’s a long-term prescription for trouble.

—Andrew Karp