Procrastination is no longer an option!
By Chris Clemence, Commercial Director
A few months back the so called ‘Credit Crunch’ was written off by many as a handy piece of alliteration to fill doom mongering journalists’ column inches. Something that would only affect a few, and probably nobody we knew.
Wrong. The economic climate of high food prices, high fuel prices and rising inflation is leading to a reduction in the amount of high street spending and that inevitably includes the optics sector. The bottom line is our patients are feeling the pinch and, in Eyeplan’s recent experience, independent opticians are starting to report quieter practices and an inclination amongst patients to ‘make do’ rather that spend on new eyewear. Spectacles in particular are considered a deferrable purchase and this deferring attitude is starting to be felt in the market.
For the independent sector to remain healthy there is a need now to address the issues created by the poor economic climate (in addition to those created by the increasingly aggressive competitive landscape). Even if the effects have not yet been felt we can be reasonably confident that they will be in the next few months. What independent opticians should be considering now is the strategies that they will adopt to secure their patient loyalty and their practice income. Eyeplan has been in the business of doing exactly this for ten years now.
A regular, contracted, monthly payment for eye care from patients is an excellent means of both securing income and loyalty. In addition, as a result of the ‘value exchange’ that can be established with patients, Eyeplan improves dispense rates and dispense values. When the pinch is being felt, the value for money on spectacles and lenses that can be offered by operating a care scheme, such as Eyeplan, is very much appreciated by patients and can often mean the difference between a dispense and a deferred purchase, or loyalty and ‘shopping around’.
Certainly times ahead for both the independent opticians and the companies that support them are set to be challenging to say the least. Whilst it most certainly is not yet time to panic, it is time to seriously contemplate securing the future. Regular, secure monthly income for the provision of eye care has to be part of that future.
Eyeplan has enjoyed significant growth over the last 12 months in terms of both Opticians adopting the Eyeplan Business Model and patients becoming members. The value of contracted income is now widely recognised and acknowledged in the independent optics sector and with the economic climate and forecast as they are the case for schemes such as Eyeplan has never been stronger.
One word of advice that Eyeplan will offer is this; Eyeplan is not a ‘quick fix’ to a short term problem but a strategy whose benefits can take time to be felt. The economic situation we might find ourselves in means procrastination is no longer an option!
Eyeplan will be exhibiting at Independents Day at the National Motorcycle Museum on 3rd July.