Dr. Dave Kading is an OD with a sense of humour, but he’s serious about ECPs embracing being sun care providers. Recently, Kading spoke at the Vancouver Essilor Alive Summit about “The Art of Selling Sun”.

Dr. Kading reminded attendees that ECPs are responsible for their patient’s eye care, and that includes sun protection. He stated that 20% of people believe that UV damage is reversible. It’s an ECP’s job to make sure their patients are completely informed on the dangers of sun damage and what they can do to protect their eyes. If ECPs don’t advocate for protecting patients’ eyes from the sun, who will?

Sunglasses education and sales is a group effort. Kading illustrated how everyone in an eye care office can contribute to sun protection success:

Step 1: Get Your Patient Thinking About Sun Protection Before the Exam Room

Ask patients to bring their sunglasses in the appointment reminder phone call or email. This ensures you can look over the patient’s sunglasses to make sure they have an antireflective coating on the backside of their lenses.

Dr. Dave Kading addresses #Alive Summit in Vancouver 2017

A question on your office’s patient yearly check in form should be: “How long does it take you to drive to work?” This is a great conversation starter to determine how long a patient wears their sunglasses commuting and helps establish sun protection value to your patient.

Kading suggests posting sun damage statistics up in your office in plain view. This allows patients to start thinking about how the sun damages their eyes even before they enter the exam room.

Sun Facts:

  • ⅓ of all left-hand turn accidents are attributed to glare!
  • Staring at the sun for 20 seconds can burn the retina.
  • 50% of UV comes from reflective surfaces.
  • Up to 50% of reflective light reflects off uncoated back lenses and into eye.

Step 2: ODs in the Exam Room

There are multiple ways an OD can support the importance of good sunwear in a patient’s life. Kading suggested the following tips:

  • If someone has a cheap pair of non-polarized sunglasses, or scratched lenses, put a positive spin on a new sale by saying, “These scratched lenses will make a great pair of backup lenses.”
  • Everyone’s eyes have cataracts in some developing stage. During an eye exam, the OD can say, “I see some UV damage and cataracts and I’m going to talk to you about how to slow that down.” This informs patients that they’ve already experienced sun damage.
  • Tell patients: Unless it’s raining or dark you need to be wearing sunglasses outside. This powerful statement sums up a wearing schedule for sunglasses. We give wearing schedules for contacts – why not sunglasses?
  • ODs should say, “I PRESCRIBE having a quality pair of sunglasses.” not, “I recommend a pair of sunglasses.” when handing a patient off to the dispensers.

Step 3: Choose Sunglasses Before Ophthalmic

When the OD hands off the patient to a dispenser after prescribing sunglasses, dispensers should START looking for a pair of sunglasses FIRST, instead of an ophthalmic. This cements the significance of the message your clinic has been reinforcing since before the appointment even started – sunglasses are important! After you find a pair of sunglasses, move on to ophthalmic selection.

Kading’s Sales Tips

  • Think that contact lens wearers are a no-sunglasses sale? Kading says patients usually buy non-prescription sunglasses within 48 hours of contacts. Capitalize on this statistic by offering a discount to contact lens wearers on non-prescription sunglasses.
  • If you provide a second pair discount, it should be substantial enough to convince people who would not normally buy a second pair of eyewear. Don’t be afraid to play around with your second pair discount amount. You may be surprised at the outcome of how little, or how much, of a discount entices customers.
  • Free is a magic word! When Kading offered a “Buy 2 Get One Free” promotion his sales increased dramatically. Even though this was only a discount of 33% off one pair of glasses vs. his usual 50% off the second pair, customers responded to the word “FREE!” more than a percentage off a purchase.
  • Consider using a service such as Care Credit. Care Credit is a healthcare credit card which offers shorter term financing options of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months. No interest is charged on purchases of $200 or more when patients make the minimum monthly payments, and pay the full amount due by the end of the promotional period.
  • Customers love sales, and so do your staff. Switching up your sales regularly keeps your staff engaged and can create genuine excitement in a team.

Dr. David Kading grew up in South Dakota, received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Pacific University College of Optometry  and currently practices at The Specialty EyeCare Group in Seattle Washington.  He can be reached at stuff@davekading.com.

Sarah Lett

Sarah Lett

Sarah worked as an ECP for 12 years before co-founding Mass Velocity Media. Now she helps ECPs and other professionals achieve success through web and graphic design and development, social media, SEO, and copywriting. Her clients range from global pop superstars to non-profits.