What It Takes to Become the Transitions Lab of the Year

By Craig Giles
For more than 60 years, Soderberg has remained dedicated to providing quality products and services to eye care professionals. We have been extremely successful; many of our accomplishments are the result of a true team effort from all Soderberg employees–from the lab and processing crew, which has the task of guaranteeing that all products leaving Soderberg meet the highest of standards, to our sales representatives, who remain in close contact with our customers to ensure all their product, training and marketing needs are met.

Soderberg is also strong for another reason: its partnership with Transitions Optical. We have long seen the strength in leveraging the Transitions brand to grow our business, and were the first lab in the Midwest to become a Transitions Platinum Elite lab through the STAR Lab Program. But we have learned that it takes more than that to become the Transitions Lab of the Year. We have always striven to take full advantage of the education, marketing and promotional resources available through Transitions–and, following a prosperous year in 2001, Soderberg won the Transitions Lab of the Year award for the first time. That year we lived and breathed Transitions. I’m fairly certain our staff even bled blue and white! Soderberg’s sales of Transitions lenses were outstanding in 2001, and our customers were also extremely satisfied with their growth. Ever since then, we’ve been on a quest to win the Lab of the Year honor for the second time.

As the years passed, we continued to achieve elevated sales of Transitions lenses but after one of our lowest years of sales of Transitions lenses in 2006, we knew we had to step up our game in 2007 if we wanted to become a two-time Transitions Lab of the Year winner. We consulted with our Transitions representative, Sherilyn Block, and developed a winning strategy–one that involved making Transitions our number-one focus for education, marketing efforts and promotions. Our efforts paid off, and Soderberg not only won the Lab of the Year distinction for 2007, but saw a 12 percent increase in sales of Transitions lenses for the year!

Education, Education, Education

If you’ve ever bought a home (or thought of buying one), you’ve probably heard these words of wisdom: location, location, location. I try to avoid clichés, but when it comes to increasing sales of a particular product, I have to apply this same emphasis on education.

Most consumers have heard about Transitions lenses–but many have questions. At Soderberg, we continuously reach out to our eye care professional partners to ensure they have what they need to answer all questions and successfully dispense the product. However, to do this properly, our staff needs to be trained as well. In 2007, we invited Tim Fortner, the trade development manager for Transitions, to help us conduct a series of marketing sessions. Tim not only shared tips on how we could tap into education to boost sales of Transitions lenses, but did a phenomenal job “firing up” our staff for the most successful year to date.

In 2007, Soderberg took full advantage of Transitions Optical’s Learn and Earn modules and presented them to more than 560 eye care professionals. But we didn’t stop there. We realized that previously, the majority of our education was targeted toward the optician audience. This makes sense, considering opticians are typically the ones who dispense Transitions lenses to patients–but optometrists and ophthalmologists can also be influential in the lens option decision. In 2007, we made sure ODs and MDs were not excluded and worked with Transitions to jumpstart a training course specifically geared toward these audiences.

Everyone Likes to Win!

Soderberg has always had success with promotions–so in 2007, we decided to kick our plans in high gear and developed seven separate initiatives that rewarded eye care professionals for selling Transitions lenses. We continued our “Passport to Earnings” promotion, which ran throughout the year and allowed eye care professionals to earn stamps (to be redeemed for prizes) for selling premium lenses, like Transitions.

Our most successful marketing initiative, however, was the “Healthy Holidays” promotion. Kicking off in October, this festive promotion gave eye care professionals a chance to win Target gift cards and BP gas cards for dispensing Transitions lenses and a chance to win even more prizes by dispensing Transitions lenses with an Ultra or Teflon anti-reflective coating. As a result of “Healthy Holidays,” Soderberg saw its highest-ever incremental growth of Transitions lenses during the promotion–a 20 percent increase in volume over 2006 sales!

Have You Met TOM?

We know TOM very well. The Transitions Online Marketing tool–also known as the TOM tool (transitionstom.com)–has been an excellent resource for Soderberg and our eye care professional customers. The Soderberg Web site even includes a link to the TOM tool for easy access by our customers who are looking to create custom marketing, advertising and point-of-sale materials. Our customers can also access the TOM tool to print out posters and display materials to communicate to their patients the benefits of Transitions lenses and the importance of healthy sight. The TOM tool is definitely a powerful resource to help them increase patient satisfaction and sales–and one Soderberg plans to continue to use in the future.

See You in 2009!

Soderberg achieved all of its goals in 2007 and more. We put our heart and soul into making Transitions the biggest part of our efforts and are thrilled to have been named Lab of the Year for the second time. But we’re not done yet. We’re not going to share our secrets for 2008, but we can tell you that we’re aiming to become the first, three-time winner in January 2009. See you at Transitions Academy!

Craig Giles is the vice president and general manager, Soderberg Ophthalmic Services Soderberg Ophthalmic Services was founded in 1945 by Frederick Soderberg as an optical laboratory and eyewear dispensary. Based in Minneapolis, Minn., today the company maintains 22 locations, providing eyewear products, manufacturing contact lenses, distributing refractive and diagnostic instruments, as well as designing innovative industrial eyewear programs. In 2005, Soderberg and Walman Optical united, forming the largest independent optical lab in the United States. For more information about the company, visit www.SOSeyes.com.

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September/October 2014