Optical Sales: Have You Implemented a Commission Program?

Commission programs are a perk and motivator for opticians. Some opticians see commission programs as a necessary element of their job and may even come to expected benefit upon hiring.

A typical commission program can vary from one to five percent of monthly dispensary sales. However, some independent practices have felt the struggles that can come with effectively balancing a commission program, staying within the practice budget, and meeting performance goals.

We'll walk you through some of the pros and cons of commission programs and bonuses and how your practice can implement them.

Pros and Cons of Commission Programs in Eyecare Practices

Screenshot 2022-08-01 131954The Upside: Sales Incentive

Sales commission programs can act as a great incentive for your opticians to work hard to create frame and contact lens sales in your practice. By having that open opportunity to supplement their income, many opticians feel empowered to work harder at their job. Also, you can attract goal-oriented, motivated candidates if you offer a commission program as a benefit when hiring a new optician.

There are a lot of different ways you can structure your program. Many practices do it based off the percent of sales or some offer a specific dollar amount to their opticians if certain goals are met, and some even calculate their commission as a percent of the practice’s sales growth.

If you decide to implement a commission program for your opticians, you have complete freedom in how you structure it. It is completely based off of what is right for your practice both financially and structurally.

The Downside: Competition

Not only can commission programs create a high-pressure environment in your practice, but it can also create an “us-versus-them” mentality for the rest of your staff. When opticians feel the pressure to generate a high volume of sales just to hit their commission goals, it can sometimes take away focus from what is really important: finding what is best for each patient both health-wise and financially.

Commission programs might also give the rest of your staff the impression that they don't need to boost or contribute to sales. However, it takes a team effort to best serve a patient, recommend them the best products, and keep revenue high in your practice. 

An Alternative: The Bonus Plan

From what the OD and tech recommend in the exam room to the way your front office staff complements the look of different frames on a patient, a sale is a group effort. A great alternative to individual commission programs is a bonus plan that includes every employee. You can structure your bonus plan to be relative to the amount of sales growth over a certain period in your practice. The bonus can be paid out equally to each employee, so no one feels singled out.

Do you offer your employees commission?

Are you considering implementing a program in your practice? The beauty of owning your own practice is that you have the freedom to create a business structure that is right for you and your employees. Every practice is unique so commission and bonus programs aren’t a cookie-cutter situation. What works for one practice might not work for your practice. Take the time to think about your practice needs and the way your staff works and operates to find what is right for you.

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on September 17, 2015, and updated in August 2022.

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