Have you forgotten to increase your price?

When was the last time you increased prices?

If you’re like many refractive surgeons, your answer ranges between “never” and “I can’t remember”.

Refractive surgeons are often so caught up in running their practices that they fail to adjust their prices with the tenure and reputation of LASIK, the cost of offering the procedure, the margins of alternatives like glasses and contact lenses, and even the impact on inflation.

1https://crstodayeurope.com/articles/nov-dec-2021/you-arent-charging-enough-for-lasik/

Why? Most surgeons fear losing volume if they increase their prices, or else they would have done so already. In EVERY market I’ve raised prices, we’ve seen a correlated increase in volume, or at worst more revenue with the same volume. Incidentally, we’ve observed this price-volume relationship over the past 20 years, whether the inflation rate was as low as 0.9% (2008) or as high as 4.08% (2007).

In this post, I’m going to give you a simple and reliable approach I’ve taught my customers to increase their fees over time while addressing their concerns about losing volume as they do.

Price does not always affect demand

Most people naturally assume that more people will buy a product if it is cheaper and fewer will buy it if it’s expensive. This refers to conventional wisdom notions of price elasticity.

But there’s more to it than that.

“Marketers need to understand how elastic, sensitive to fluctuations in price, or inelastic, largely ambivalent about price changes, their products are when contemplating how to set or change a price”

2https://hbr.org/2015/08/a-refresher-on-price-elasticity

The demand for some products has an immediate response to changes in price. These products are typically “nice to have” or “non-essential”, and often many substitutes are available. For example, demand may go down when beef prices go up because people will buy chicken or pork instead. These types of products are known to have relative elasticity.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

Refractive surgery is relatively inelastic

For some products, a price change will cause slight or no changes in demand. Refractive surgery is an example of this type of product. For instance, when surgeons needed to increase prices to offset additional costs incurred by custom ablation or femtosecond lasers and increased prices, demand did not fall.

We could argue, based on our experience, that increases in refractive surgery prices correlate with increases in demand. Why might this be so?

Price communicates quality

An old adage you’re likely familiar with is “you’ll get what you pay for”. When it comes to a bottle of wine, the adage is true:

“According to researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology, if a person is told he or she is tasting two different wines—and that one costs $5 and the other $45 when they are, in fact, the same wine—the part of the brain that experiences pleasure will become more active when the drinker thinks he or she is enjoying the more expensive vintage.”

3https://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/january16/wine-011608.html

In short, we believe more expensive things are more valuable, and we also experience them as more valuable.

How to increase your prices without worrying about losing customers

Nick Kolenda, an expert in marketing psychology, suggests you adjust prices based on the just noticeable difference (i.e. the difference that is just noticeable).

For example, if your LASIK price is 2000 an eye, an increase to 2400 will be more noticeable than an increase to 2100.

I know, that’s obvious.

However, many refractive surgeons fail here. They are scared to raise their price, so they wait until it’s absolutely necessary. By that point, however, they need to raise their price by a wide margin.

So, what’s Nick’s advice?

Use frequent (yet smaller) prices changes. Avoid waiting until the moment of desperation.

Plus, if your price stays the same for years, then customers become accustomed to this price. Any change will be highly noticeable.

We’ve implemented Nick’s advice with our customers by raising their prices every quarter to reach an overall annual price increase. What this looks like is this:

  • On January 1 the price is 2000
  • On March 1, we raise it to 2100
  • On June 1, we raise it to 2200
  • On September 1, we raise it to 2300
  • On January 1 (the next year), we raise it to 2400.

What we’re doing is incrementally raising the price by 100/eye every quarter, or 400/eye over a year. The advantage of this approach is two-fold:

  1. We assume that prospects in the market notice an increase of 100/eye less than they would an increase of 400/eye. This is especially the case when we present prices as monthly amounts on web pages and in sales conversations (i.e. 83.33 to 87.50/eye/month doesn’t feel significant). Since starting the pricing campaign, surgical volumes show an increase in demand and we’ve encountered near ZERO price resistance, so this assumption has a base in fact.
  2. Our customer has been charging more per eye (on average) over the year, which has made them more profitable faster than if they had waited to raise their price on a yearly basis by the same incremental amount.

When it comes to pricing strategy, this is the tip of the iceberg

If you like what you’ve read here, then you’ll love the other 49 pricing ideas we share with our customers when advising them on pricing strategy. If you’re interested in discussing this and other strategies to grow your revenue and profits, let us know and we’d be happy to talk.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

About the author

Rod Solar
Founder & Fractional CMO

Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people through vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

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Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Fractional CMO

Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

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LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK