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Improving contact lens penetration

Optometrist and clinical development manager at Bayfields Opticians, Diba Choudhury (pictured), discusses how the independent maintains a healthy contact lens take up

Diba Choudhury

Contact lenses account for 16% of our overall business currently. However, our data shows that for practices that Bayfields Opticians has owned for three or more years, this increases to 26%.

This means that we have an opportunity to grow penetration in practices that we acquire. Therefore, we have a range of initiatives in place to help us achieve that.

Team mindset

As a business, we make sure that the entire team understands that contact lenses are not a limited option; they are for the many, not the few. In order to break down this barrier we educate our clinical and non-clinical staff about lenses in a range of ongoing ways. 

When a new lens is introduced to the business, we produce a fact sheet about it that can be disseminated to all staff. The fact sheet provides clinical information on the product for our optometrists, as well as details of the benefits of the lens that staff can use when talking to clients. Perhaps most importantly, the fact sheets are written in a language that everyone will understand, taking away the scary clinical words, and writing it in a way that is understandable and transferable.

For our staff who wear lenses, we also encourage them to try new products when they come in.  

In 2015, we focused on contact lenses in a large way across the business and hosted an evening event every month. Contact lens companies attended to speak about their products and we ran CET and peer review sessions. The evenings were open to all employees, not just our clinical staff, as ensuring that our front of house staff are informed is key. They are often the first person to speak to clients and should feel comfortable and capable to start a conversation about contact lenses before the client goes into the testing room.  

In our practices we keep a large bowl that is full of contact lenses on the reception desk. Therefore, if a conversation is flowing, staff can try to debunk some of the common misconceptions about contact lenses. If they say that they are worried about what they will feel like, for example, we can open up a packet and let them feel one.

"Our communications to clients therefore focus on keeping them informed about potential upgrades as technology improves and new lenses become available"

Patient education

We work continually throughout the year to educate our patients about contact lenses and the benefits they can bring. We have an annual marketing plan and ensure that we focus on contact lenses at least once a quarter. 

We understand that there is a fine line in the public’s perception when it comes to selling products to them, and our communications to clients therefore focus on keeping them informed about potential upgrades as technology improves and new lenses become available. We simply let clients know that a new product is available and where appropriate offer them a free trial.

When a patient is new to contact lenses, we ensure that we keep in touch with them to help minimise drop outs. After a teach, we will see the client again one week later. We have settled on a week because we realised that if a client was struggling and the appointment was further away, they would give up. We also give them both written and video resources to support them and encourage them to call if they get stuck. 

Sometimes we schedule in a call to a client a few days after they take their contact lenses away, just to make sure they are getting on okay. 

We do all of this because we feel contact lenses are a fantastic alternative to spectacle wear and we want to ensure that our clients are informed and aware that glasses are not the only way to correct vision.