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Always keep the patient in control of the process that determines the price

One of the biggest fears that the optical assistant must overcome, is talking about money!

When a patient visits our practice, it is not because they were “drafted” to do so like the military did many years ago.  They have decided to come!  They’ve planned.  They’ve called their medical aid, called us for an appointment and pitched up.  Some patients may come in because they have lost or broken their spectacles, but most people do so because they feel it’s time or because their recall told them to.  Since they are probably wearing spectacles already, they know that it’s not for free and that it involves payment and they most definitely have some form of payment method or payment plan in mind.

Price and medical aids

Why is it that, before we even offer them any goods, we ask: “Which medical aid do you belong to, Mrs Jones?  I am going to phone them now and ask them how much you can spend on your eyewear.”  When the patient has no “benefits” available, we apologise, as if it’s our fault and send them off – suggesting that they come back in a year when they have “benefits” again.  We even offer to remind them on that date! NO!! They are in your practice now.  Make that sale!

How do we “keep the patient in control of the process that determines the price?”  

To be able to negotiate, you MUST know your pricing structure, as well as medical aid pricing. Never use the word “benefits”.  Instead say; “your medical aid contributes X amount towards your spectacles”.

Give structure to your sale

After earning a patient’s trust by listening carefully to how your questions were answered, you are now ready to “start” your presentation.   Use these magic words to give structure to the process:

Start by summarising your findings:I understand from what you are saying, that you find it difficult to see the audience when conducting meetings.  I think we should look at a multifocal as an option…

Explain what it means:  This means that you will no longer need to change between two pairs…

Show them what it is: “Let me show you a sample of a lens and explain how it works.  I will also explain the different options available to suit your lifestyle and to ensure that there will be minimum reflections on the lenses. How do you feel about that?”

Make your recommendation and give the quote: “I recommend this multifocal with the anti-reflex coating because…” 

Mrs. Jones, the total price of your eye examination and the pre-testing that was done today, together with the eyewear that you have selected, comes to R5 956.75.  Your medical aid contributes an amount of R3 200.00 towards it.  The difference of R2 756.75 is payable by you.

Close with: “How do you feel about that?” And then…. keep quiet!

DO NOT say things like: “I know it’s a lot of money and we can arrange to pay it off.”  Never assume that they do not have money!   If the patient objects to the price, DO NOT immediately offer to use the cheaper frame instead, leave out the AR Coating or High Refractive Index lenses or suggest a less expensive design of lens.

Simply say:I understand your concern, Mrs. Jones – but tell me, what would YOU like to take away?”

Should she decide to leave something out, make a note in the file or on the quotation and ask her to sign next to it.   This may make her rethink the sale.  Bear in mind that her dilemma may be due to real financial constraints in spite of the fact that she would really like to have what you recommended.

Be gentle!