Travel is broadening, so the saying goes. This was confirmed during a trip last month to Maumee, Ohio, where I picked up some new ideas while speaking at an educational conference for eyecare practitioners hosted by local wholesale lab Toledo Optical.

During a panel discussion with several optometrists, the question arose about what to do when someone walks into an eyecare practice or optical store where they are not a regular patient and requests a PD measurement. This is becoming a common occurrence as more people shop for eyewear on the Internet and need to provide the online retailer with their PD along with their prescription.

Some audience members said they provide this service for free as a gesture of good will, just as with a frame adjustment, with the hope of winning the customer’s business in the future. The consensus among the panelists and the audience though, was that a dispenser should take the PD but charge a $20 or $25 fee. This seems fair, given that a dispenser has to devote a few minutes of their time to the task. It sends a clear message: My time is valuable.

Yet charging for PDs could be off-putting to some people, especially if they could be potential customers. What’s the answer?

An audience member volunteered that although the practice where she works charges $25 dollars to measure a PD, they also give the customer a $25 coupon that can be redeemed for goods or services from their dispensary. That’s the best solution to this problem I’ve heard so far—a win-win for the customer AND the practice.

—Andrew Karp