Do-overs were great when we were kids, but they’re not so great now that we’re grown up and trying to run a profitable optical shop.
#1: Get perspective. Ask your optical manager or your lab for your optical’s remake stats and how they compare to other opticals your lab works with, Gibb recommends.
The benchmarks: Experts estimate that fifteen percent of all spectacle lens orders from optical labs require remakes because of inaccurate measurements, transcription errors, and lab mistakes.
If your opticians are good and your optical is well managed, you can get down to a 5 percent remake rate. If you have a 20-25 percent rate, you know you have some problems to fix. Overall, dispensaries in ophthalmology practices have higher remake ratios than those in optometry practices, Gibb notes.
#2: Understand that hard skills may be only part of the problem. Yes, remakes can originate from an optician’s inexperience with progressive lenses, inaccurate fitting height measurements, incorrect PD measurements, or lens materials that are ill-matched with frames, but not all remakes are directly connected to an optician’s lack of technical skill or experience.
As you look to lower your remake ratio, don’t underestimate the importance of system improvements or soft skills.
#3: Doctors, examine your own soft skills first. Like it or not, most patients trust the doctor more than anyone else in the office.
Doctors, make sure you set up your optical for successful interactions with patients. When you hand off patients to your optical, make sure you treat optical staff like professionals, not the “girl who is going to style you” from the old days, says Gibb.
#4: Optical managers, learn to spot ‘habitual offenders’ and have your most experienced staffers take care of them. A big red flag that you have a remake risk on your hands is the client who comes in for the first time and says “I’ve been to every doctor in town and no one can get it right,” Gibb notes.
Before you do anything else, sit down with that client and have her list what’s made her unhappy with her eyewear in the past. Then ask, “What can we do to make you happy?” Sometimes the patient herself will realize that nothing can make her completely happy and then you can set realistic expectations.
#5: Implement standard operating procedures in your dispensary that all staff follow each and every time. If you become very regimented in how you do things and the sequence in which you do them, you don’t accidentally emerge without a PD, Gibb says. You develop a kind of muscle memory that allows you to converse and connect with the patient more effectively. Make sure your SOP incorporates double checks for measurements and data entry.
#6: Make sure optical staff know they can double check with the doctor if they see a drastic prescription change. Sometimes opticians spot things in a script that seem strange. Better to check with the doctor now instead of having to do a remake later.
#7: Understand that changes in lens materials or lens styles may be disorienting. A patient who has just made this kind of change may hastily conclude that he needs a remake if you don’t prepare him for an adjustment period. In these cases, opticians should say “You’ll need a couple of days to get used to these” when fitting and when delivering the glasses.