February 6, 2024

Sales targets. Great for shareholders, lousy for patients.

Sales targets. Great for shareholders, lousy for patients.

Just about every multiple optical practice sets its staff, including the optometrist, in fact especially the optometrist, a daily, weekly and monthly sales targets. In other words the optician you see for your test will have been told they must sell a set value of glasses or contact lenses. It doesn't matter what their clinic looks like, it can be full of routine tests with patients who are not having any visual problems, they will be expected to sell glasses. That causes problems.

The obvious result of this is the over-prescribing of glasses, most often to the more vulnerable patients: the elderly, the very young or those with limited ability to return and advise they don't notice any improvement with their new prescription. When I was employed as an optometrist at Dollond and Aitchison I was latterly held to account if practice sales did not meet Head Office's demands. This could lead to disciplinary action and ultimately dismissal. Never mind the quality of the eyecare given, if targets were not consistently met you could be regarded as a liability to the business. It is the reason I left the multiple market in 2008. The clear implication was the care and quality of advice to the patient was of less concern to those in charge than selling unnecessary glasses or add-ons. That isn't the fault of the individual optician, they are in a very difficult position with mortgages and bills to pay. It is the fault of the retail mindset of the multiple practice.

At Scott G Brown Opticians we have never had sales targets and we never will. The advice given to our individual patients (patients, not customers) is based entirely on their circumstances. If new glasses will not improve their quality of vision we will never advise they change their glasses. That will never change. It is not the fastest way to build a practice but it is the honest and sustainable way. Some days we will supply many pairs of glasses, some days we won't supply any. It all depends on what the patient needs, or just as importantly, doesn't need.

If you've ever changed your glasses on the advice of the optometrist then felt it hasn't materially benefitted you whatsoever then you've probably been used to meet a sales target rather than because you needed them.

If you'd rather be a patient than a customer, or if you want honest advice from your optician that is in your interests rather than to give the staff a commission bonus, or for shareholders' benefit, then we'd be delighted to see you at our East Kilbride or Johnstone practice.

Scott Brown

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