With the plethora of discount online suppliers of glasses and contacts, many Optometrists see customer loyalty as a growing challenge to their business. It has become common practice for patients to patronize an Optometrist for an eye-exam, and then take the prescription to whichever online retailer offers the best deal that week. While the doctor-patient relationship may accrue some loyalty, at the end of the day it is nearly impossible for a brick-and-mortar business to keep its pricing on consumables competitive with online retailers, or big box stores such as Walmart or Costco.
It’s no wonder that many Optometrists are looking into membership programs as a means to ensure loyalty and increase revenue. As we’ve explored before, the membership phenomenon can have a powerful effect on consumer behavior. In what a 2007 Harvard Business School study referred to as a “fee-to-savings” link, once a consumer has committed a small fee to a membership program at one business, they are consistently more likely to patronize that business over competitors.
Furthermore, the loyalty that comes with a consumer’s commitment to a membership program carries benefits beyond that single member’s spending. A 2011 Colloquy Loyalty Census, entitled “The Billion Member March,” showed that members of a loyalty program are 75% more likely to refer other members to that service.
From a practical standpoint, Optometrists can make these principles work to their benefit by bundling custom membership plans with eye-exams. While they have the patient in-office for their exam, the Optometrists can create a monthly membership plan that covers their contacts, lenses, etc. for the next year. Using advanced membership software with a Wellness Plan module, the practice can build plans that fit the unique needs of each individual customer, and then carries further discounts on glasses, frames, and other purchases. In addition, the software takes care of all tracking and billing, saving work for the practice.
This generates increased loyalty for the practice, a recurring revenue stream, and gives the patient the comfort of knowing their glasses or contacts are coming from a doctor they trust, as opposed to a faceless online retailer.