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Patricia Basile | 7/17/2020
HOW WILL I NEED TO ADJUST MY BUYING PATTERNS WITH THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE CURRENT MARKETPLACE?

Careful frame and lens purchasing habits are needed in an unpredictable time.

Many optometric practices are experiencing a surge in eyewear purchases due to pent-up demand and the ability to spend more time with each patient. Will the surge last? Will business go back to previous levels? Will there be more disruptions in the future? Of course, none of us have the answers to these questions. The best course of action is to stick to the basics and make constant fine adjustments. Adjust purchasing every month to account for seasonal swings and unexpected surges or slumps.

Basics:

  • Calculate your ideal inventory; we want to achieve a turn rate of 3 times a year.
  • Annual Frame Sales ÷ 3 = Ideal frame count.
  • Remove fixtures that force you to fill space and keep an oversupply of frames.
  • Budget
    • Base your sales on last month’s sales to continually align your purchases with current demand. Be sure not to allow your best sellers to dwindle in selection.
    • Setting a frame budget based on the previous month’s sales keeps you from ordering more than needed and will enable you to expand when needed.
    • This budget should also be adjusted if you have too many frames on hand. To achieve your ideal count within a specific time frame, reduce the budget evenly over several months.
      • Example: Last month, 85 frames sold, reduce frame budget by 20 frames for five months to attain a 100-frame reduction. You will only order 65 frames in the current month. One of the biggest mistakes many practices make is to freeze all purchasing. This can make the selection feel stale and may hurt your ability to sell your best revenue-producing frames.
    • Prioritize reorders rather than simply reordering every piece. If an item has only sold once in the space of 6 months, do not reorder it.
  • If you have a finishing lab on-site, consider carrying only a premium product with an anti-reflective coating for those fast turnaround orders.

Fine adjustments:

  • Right now, less is definitely more. It is more cost-effective to carry fewer frames more closely aligned with the demands of your patients. When faced with a buying decision, err on the side of fewer frames. Filling large display cases is unnecessary to provide a great shopping experience and may work against you by being overwhelming.
  • Elevate the role of the opticians. They have an opportunity to take control of the process by making targeted frame recommendations. If they bring frames to the patient:
    • The patient feels well cared for.
    • The optician minimizes the time of trying on frames that may not even be appropriate for the patient.
    • This minimizes the number of frames that are handled and need disinfecting.
    • The optician can be making specific suggestions about additional pairs of glasses, saying, for example, “These frames would make a wonderful choice for your computer glasses,” “Try the fabulous sunglasses from the same designer we chose for your first set.”

So how is this any different than usual? Not a lot! But being very disciplined about the amount of money you spend on materials is even more critical right now. We always want to have an adequate selection and fresh styles to offer, but we can accomplish that and control costs.

 

Pat Basile

ABOC, NCLEC, CT LO

IDOC Optical Management Consultant

 

 

Patricia Basile
Optical Management Consultant
Pat Basile has extensive experience in sales, customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has had great success in developing and implementing growth plans, providing training and leadership to achieve greater sales and productivity results. She believes that the consumer is much better served by the personal care provided by small, independent and caring optometric practices. Pat will listen to your concerns and help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include training and setting goals for sales and customer service, inventory management and frame board management.
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