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For eye care professionals

Modern independent opticians: staying ahead of the tech

Rise above those competing on price

Do you feel like your business is under attack some days? What with the expansion of chains and more and more supermarkets getting into the optical business, the high street can seem like a crowded place to practice eye health care. Along with smartphone apps that offer low prices and super fast processing, and it’s no wonder that many eye care practitioners are asking, “How do I stand out and grow new customers?”

Read on to find solutions for the independent practitioner who is ready to change and differentiate what they offer, in order to rise above those competing on price.

Changing Perceptions

‘All opticians basically sell the same thing,’ is a patient belief we’re encountering a lot these days. Why should they pay more for a pair of glasses from an independent practice when they can shop around for a bargain? Faced with this idea, don’t hang up your PD ruler or ophthalmoscope just yet: look at what you can do to change the way consumers think about eyecare and eyewear. This is how you provide value.

It’s all about customer perception. The way you deliver your services and products can transform a person who’s just looking for a good deal into one who appreciates the value of what you offer. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to offer cheaper specs and free sight tests: it’s impossible for the independent ECP or small group owner to have the same purchasing power as a multiple or supermarket. Instead, focus on how you deliver value, and what you can invest in to set your practice apart from the crowd.

Digital Measurement

One area in which independent ECPs can influence patient decisions is digital measurement. If you are unsure about investing in upgrading the dispensing process, the evidence is clear: people expect services like these with each passing day. Research has show that digital measurements influence customer purchasing decisions, and what’s more, it helps you and your team to deliver a delightful experience from start to finish. One such tool is Visioffice 2, a digital dispensing system that assesses a wide range of physiological and behavioural parameters. With cutting-edge digital dispensing technology, it can then deliver an accurate, precise, and consistent set of spectacle lenses. . The exciting bit is that in a survey for Essilor, 67% of patients believed there was a strong impact on lens performance when they were measured with the iPad, but a startling 89% believed this when measured with Visioffice and the iPad together. 

Patients in general love the idea that digital measuring devices collect hundreds of personalised eye/frame measurements to allow you to come up with a product that’s truly unique. It’s this kind of tailored, bespoke service you need to be pitching as this is what you offer that the supermarkets don’t.

 Digital measuring devices like Visioffice 2 aren’t the only tools available to the modern dispenser: have you thought about using a VR headset to allow patients to try lenses? In the testing room there are immense benefits in new equipment like the OCT. You’re probably already aware of the clinical benefits of a 3D scan of the back of the eye, but along with retinal photography these new medical devices give patients a far better insight into the complexity of the eye, and the true value of looking after their eye health. Impressing this upon them will make the more receptive to investing a bit more cash in a quality product.

Embracing Digital

If you’re feeling slightly behind the wave when integrating technology into your practice, stick around. Automation and digital is no threat to your business independence. You should see it instead as an opportunity to grow. While some processes are easy to automate, nothing is going to remove the need for clinical expertise combined with good communication skills. Examine which parts of your practice can be streamlined and automated with new technology, then use this as a chance to promote your practice. At the same time, think about new fields that you and your team might move into. 

Have you investigated combined care programmes with your local eye hospital? Your clinical team can train to monitor people with stable eye conditions, which would be  great for your business profile. Try to liaise with your local optical committee and push forward the need for local low-vision schemes. It’s a great way for dispensing opticians to extend their expertise and for your practice to develop another reliable source of income. Plus, MECS give further opportunity to develop a new stream of NHS funding, whilst at the same time extending clinical skills and integrating your practice into the local community.

Exciting stuff, right? The best part is you don’t need to make all these decision on your own. If you need some advice on how to get started and put some of this into practice, feel free to check out Essilor Bespoke. It’ll lay the foundation to modernising your practice and making the most out of your digital presence.

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