It's an initiative not unfamiliar to the hospitality sector. A newly-opened restaurant, looking to build-up a loyal customer base, announces it will be running a ‘pay what you want for your meal’ offer. You secure a reservation, and at the end of the meal you and your dining companions furiously whisper to each other, attempting to settle on what a fair and appropriate amount to pay might be.
In this position, certainly when the food has been tasty and well presented, and the service carried out without a Julie Walters "two soups" comedy moment, my hunch is that most customers are likely to pay a sum that comes close to covering the restaurant’s costs – and indeed may be not far off the price the business owner would wish to charge.
The news this week that Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care, a growing regional chain with a firm grasp of marketing principles and a willingness to experiment, has decided to apply the ‘pay what you want’ model to its sight test may seem surprising. Optics is a very different beast from the food and drinks trade, right?
But, on closer inspection, the thinking behind the move is not hard to follow. Driven by a desire to give patients – as Leightons puts it with a level of confidence I like – “something more thorough,” the initiative is an unashamed attempt to introduce patients, who would perhaps balk at the £69 sight test fee, to Leightons’ “ultimate” eye examination. Guaranteeing optical coherence tomography as part of the package, the experience has been designed to showcase to patients the clinical width and expertise an optometric practice can offer today – highlighting to patients that checks for various eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and other health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are all carried out.
Chief executive of Leightons, Ryan Leighton, explains: “This is not about giving away something for free.” Framing the offer within ‘pay what you want’ parameters carefully steers clear of heightening concerns around devaluing the sight test in the mind of the public by making the service free. This position – that it is right to protect the associated fee for enhanced services – was one the Leighton’s team reiterated when they spoke to OT, in our new-look launch edition in November, about its OCT roll-out last year.
Talking about the monthly OT, the April edition, which landed on doormats last weekend, marks six months of our new-look journal and website. We are always keen to hear your, our readers, thoughts: so please do get in touch to let me know what you think of the content, design and feel of the journal. And if you have a topic you’d like us to put a spotlight on in the coming months, let us know.