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June 18 2012
Eyeplan’s commercial director, Chris Clemence, explains to OT why a payment scheme could provide a regular, loyal income stream to independent practices
This recession isn’t good for anyone; the country has seen well-known High Street chains like La Senza, Peacocks, Blacks Leisure, Game, and most recently, Clinton Cards get into serious trouble. So if it’s tough for the ‘big guys’, what is it like for the independent community opticians practice? Did these big businesses struggle because of their outdated business models and their reluctance to adapt? Or did they just not offer the service, products and care levels required to succeed in today’s competitive environment?
In optics, there are few that can say they are truly unaffected by the current economic conditions. Nevertheless, there are many that will be less affected, due, in no small part, to the security of a healthy, monthly contracted income scheme and the foresight to reconsider their business model. This may sound smug, but it is borne out by a case study recently undertaken by Eyeplan.
In 2010/2011, Eyeplan worked with a group of three
AOP member practices to measure the effect the Eyeplan Business Model had on their businesses. The results were
very interesting, reporting that on average, a scheme member spent 31% more than a non-member and, even in these mature practices, there was also a corresponding increase in the dispense rate.
When the case study was complete, it was found that scheme members had increased the total dispense income
by just under £60,000. This is in addition to the monthly fee income totalling approximately £245,000 per annum.
While even these levels of revenue generation do not make the business absolutely recession-proof, they do make things more comfortable. It also creates the time and space needed to continue to develop and market a practice. Adopting a managed eye care plan is arguably one of the best ways to underpin an optical business. The regular monthly eye care income from both contact lens patients and the (often under- exploited) opportunity that spectacle wearers present, can help iron out short-term blips in practice performance, or in raw practical terms, help make sure the bills are paid.
In the longer term, and in times of economic jeopardy, a body of patients signed up and making monthly payments is an ideal audience for additional marketing activity. The old adage that it is always easier to sell more to an existing customer than to recruit a new one is never truer than in a recession.
So, is it too late? For some practices perhaps, but for others, certainly not.
Small daily or weekly changes can have a significant effect on practice revenues. It is certainly possible that, with a little free training, the dispense rate in the practice can be increased by one £200 dispense per week. This would be worth in the region of £10,000 a year in additional practice revenue. It
is entirely realistic that, with the implementation of an eye care scheme, the dispense value could be increased by £10
or £15 per dispense. It is also entirely achievable that an eye care scheme could increase the take up of OCT, and make accessible other professional services available in the practice.
It should, therefore, never be too late to develop a new value exchange with patients and offer something novel and different; something that will encourage loyalty, develop revenue streams and, as membership grows, underpin the business. With expert implementation, training and support, the results of adopting a scheme such as Eyeplan can be tangible in a short period of time.
Eyeplan is an AOP-approved supplier for managed eye care schemes. AOP members receive a discount on the Eyeplan joining fee, and the initial consultation is free. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk
and click on member- services, member-benefits and then Eyeplan.
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