DAC Vision
A Monthly Update for Optical Laboratory Owners and Managers April 2009

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from DAC Vision

New Products
 
Sales & Marketing Matters

No Time to Wait
for Flying Ducks

By Anne Miller





There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Man with mouth open wait for long time for duck to fly in." When business is tough and the fun has gone out of the work, or appears to be AWOL, which it does a lot these days, the antidote for panicking, inertia, or the blues is not to wait for better times or for business to come in over the transom, but to be as pro-actively visible, valuable and memorable as possible to protect what you have, and to plant the seeds for future business.

Establishing-and executing—time-specific numeric goals for various activities will do that for you. Here is a useful exercise to help you do that. There is also an important part in this for your personal benefit as well.

Exercise
 Block out an hour and make a written list of time-specific numeric goals for the activities below appropriate for your business. Keep this list visible. Out of sight is out of mind. Check it at the end of each day and at the end of each week. Let it drive your priorities and scheduling for the following day, week, and quarter.

Be Visible
I will make X# of face-to-face relationship calls with existing accounts this month

I will make X# of relationship contacts with existing accounts this month: to share new products, to meet new people, to check satisfaction, to review new needs

I will meet X# of new key people at my best existing accounts this month

I will make X# of face-to-face new business calls this week via voicemail, email, fax, and snail mail

I will attend X# of networking events this month

I will participate X# of times in the various appropriate networking sites

Be Valuable
I will develop X# of new ideas for my existing accounts this month (who can you collaborate with on this either inside or outside your company?)

I will send X# of relevant emails, cards, articles, updates, research, newsletters to clients and prospects

Be Memorable
I will do/send X# of things to clients and prospects to stand out from the competition: written thank you notes; mail in a red envelope; a fax instead of email; a relevant cartoon or story to provide a light moment to clients; useful info for their personal interests, e.g., a new resource you came across (Iike my recommendation below); a book, restaurant you think they would like; lunch at an unusual place - a museum, outdoors in good weather; get your fortunes read; host a breakfast for clients who you think would just like each other; other?


For Myself: Stay Sharp
I will read X# of trade media or websites this month

I will attend X# of outside industry seminars, lectures this quarter

I will spend X amount of time strengthening my skills this quarter (attend a seminar, read a book, joint call with a more senior person)

I will review the materials/website of my competitors monthly

I will spend X amount of time expanding my business insight this quarter (attend an event, meet people, pick up media outside my industry)

And, last, for myself I will schedule time to do something fun and relaxing every day and every week! (Get those endorphins going!)

The Ultimate Pay-Off
Goals, numbers, activities and deadlines may be boring, but they are tangible and measurable. They give you a point to move towards, provide a framework for action, and reward you with a sense of accomplishment as activities are completed. The visibility, the value, and the edge you gain from these activities will help lead to the business you want.

Tough times. Keep that sales energy and creativity going! See you next month.

©2009, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling," www.annemiller.com.

 
HR Corner

Unwritten Policies:
Are You Asking
for Trouble?

handbooks

Many employers cite employees for violations of “unwritten” company policies that are enforced but not clearly set out in an employee handbook or other well-publicized document. This can be a big mistake.

While you or your managers may feel comfortable telling employees that “this is a long-standing unwritten rule” or “it's the way things have always been done,” the likelihood of your practice being sustained in court is much reduced. If you have no document to point to, it is very easy for employees to claim that they've been treated in a discriminatory manner including their race, sex, age, religion, disability, or other protected status.

To be safe, make sure everyone in your practice is on the same page regarding your policy and practice. Write them down and distribute them in an employee handbook or some other format you can easily point to in the event of an honest disagreement or dispute.

Employees should sign and return forms acknowledging that they have received and read the handbook, and that they understand the handbook does not constitute a binding contract (except for your at-will policy). If you change any of your policies or practices, make sure the changes are well-documented and communicated when implemented and periodically thereafter.

Hedley Lawson brings over 25 years of optical industry experience to JMI. For over 10 years, he has been a contributing editor to VM, most recently as writer of the monthly column “Business Essentials.” He is the Contributing Editor of VM's E-Newsletter Business Essentials.

 

 

economic forecasting

Decision Making: Tools of the Trade,
Part 2

Our government and others have been working furiously to mitigate systemic risk, which is the risk of a total failure of a financial system. Risk may be a four-letter word, but it is not always bad. Every venture that has the possibility of reward also has risk. Risk is what companies measure, watch, and manage in order to maximize returns. Also, risk creates a barrier to entry for would be competitors. Risk management is vitally important when budgeting and forecasting.

Forecasting market risk or inherent risk is the first step in measuring and managing risk. Inherent risk is the probability of loss arising out of circumstances or existing in an environment. A baseline scenario for the forecast is generally developed to show the expected result over time assuming there is no change in how the company is operated, such as no addition to assets. This step generally includes assumptions about normal sales and expense growth. Next, create a second scenario adding general market variables. This scenario might show that demand is declining and sales are not growing as well as in the baseline scenario. Then develop a scenario where the market has stronger growth than the baseline.

Once inherent risk is assessed, other forms of risk can be evaluated by adding the expected effects of decisions on the multiple scenarios. For example, if a decision is made to finance the purchase of a large piece of equipment, the scenarios can measure the risk of not cash flowing enough with the purchase to cover the lease or loan payment. This is known as cash flow risk, the risk that a company's available cash will not be sufficient to meet its financial obligations. Cash flow risk is very important. Even if the long-term impact of a purchase decision is positive, not being able to make the payments in the near-term can have severe consequences for the business.

Forecasting the expected cash flows under multiple scenarios can help when securing financing for the equipment purchase. Not only can a lender better assess your business plan and possible success of the purchase, but your forecast can aid them in determining your plan's credit risk. The forecast will show that you’ve done your homework on the project and potentially increase your chances of obtaining financing. Business owners should consider the risk of obsolescence of a particular purchase, especially if the technology being purchased is in its first generation.

Incorporating risk into the budgeting and forecasting function is essential to the decision making process. The forecast can give a representation of risk assumptions based on what is known, and perhaps more importantly, not known. A business owner’s understanding of the risks involved in taking action can make the difference between success and failure.

Read “Assessing Financial Performance, Part 1.”

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Jason Meyer—Jason A. Meyer is senior vice president, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories. You can send comments or questions about this article or any other Dollars & Sense articles to Jason Meyer at jam@hpcpuckett.com.

DAC Vision
 

Laura Bush of Encore Optics

laura bush encoreLaura Bush has worked for Encore Optics in South Windsor, Conn., since it was founded in 2003. She started as the office manager and her responsibilities included day-to-day office duties, managing the machine interface system in DVI and assisting in processing drill rimless orders.

In 2008 Bush was promoted to operations manager. In addition to responsibilities she had previously, Bush now oversees all aspects of production. “I am responsible for the hiring and training of new employees, daily and weekly management meetings, new product integration and production flow,” she said.

Before beginning her optical career, Bush served in the Navy for four-and-a-half years where she built and maintained underwater mines. After leaving the Navy, in 1990 she was hired by Paul Zito as general office help at QSA Laboratory. Bush's dedication and drive helped her advance to inventory manager and then to office manager. She continued in this role even after the laboratory was acquired by Hoya in 2000.

Bush and Zito left Hoya in 2003 to start Encore Labs. “Our management staff has worked together as a team for over 20 years,” she said. “We know how to work together to achieve our goal of having a productive and motivated atmosphere. Even with our busy days, the environment is upbeat and easy going.”

Adding to the upbeat atmosphere are the amusing comments Bush receives when she introduces herself, given the coincidence of her name being the same as the former first lady's. “When I call someone or meet someone for the first time and identify myself, there is always a pause and usually a giggle. I typically will joke to put them at ease. It was fun recently to be able to comment about how 'I would be done soon' or 'I couldn't wait to be home',” she said.

Bush says the highlight of her career came when she was promoted to operations manager. “We are always looking for ways to improve and I love the challenge. I will continue to grow with Encore. In five short years, Encore has grown to be the size that took QSA 15 years. I cannot wait to see what the next five years bring,” she said.—Samantha Toth

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DAC Vision
 

Carl Zeiss Vision Opens Dallas Lab— Carl Zeiss Vision is opening a new prescription laboratory in Lewisville, Texas, near Dallas. The facility, known as Carl Zeiss Vision – Texas, is a full-service, VSP approved laboratory co-located within the Legends VSP laboratory. It will offer the full range of Carl Zeiss Vision products, including Zeiss personalized lenses, AR coatings and sunlenses.

“Texas is a very important market for Carl Zeiss Vision, and our customers there have been asking us for more localized premium service,” said Fred Howard, Carl Zeiss Vision’s President –The Americas-Pacific. “We are very excited to meet that need with Carl Zeiss Vision – Texas.”

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COLA Sets Spring Meeting Dates—The 2009 spring meeting of COLA (California Optical Laboratories Association) will be held at the La Quinta Resort and Club, La Quinta, Calif. on April 30 to May 1. According to COLA executive director Terry Yoneda, the meeting will begin with a golf tournament—scramble format—on April 30 at the La Quinta Resort Dunes Course. The May 1 program will consist of presentations from Overnight Express, a courier service with specialized tracking in the western states, presentations from Santinelli International, National Optronics, Transitions Optical, Stegen Designs and Pixel Optics.

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Walmart to Close Lockbourne Optical Lab—Walmart announced last month that it will close its optical lab in Lockbourne, Ohio. The facility, located near Columbus, processes eyewear orders for Vision Centers in Walmart stores. The company said it will continue to operate an optical merchandise distribution center at the same location.

“This decision along with expansions and improvements to our other eyewear manufacturing facilities will allow Walmart to reduce costs and operate our optical business more efficiently,“ said Volker Heimeshoff, divisional manager of health and wellness for Walmart U.S. ”While this is the right decision for our business, it is a difficult one. We know that we must focus on taking care of our Lockbourne associates and assisting them as they seek employment at other Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities or with other employers.”

The optical lab employs approximately 650 associates. All associates will receive regular paychecks and benefits for the next 60 days and will be eligible for positions at area Walmart and Sam’s Club locations. Eligible associates will receive a severance benefit. The company will host two job fairs for associates.

Walmart has retained Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement consulting firm, to coordinate the job fairs and provide job placement assistance to associates, including counseling, self-assessment, interview training and resume writing training.

According to Heimeshoff, orders that previously were sent to the Lockbourne facility will be dispersed to several facilities. Walmart operates optical labs in Crawfordsville, Ind.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Dallas, Texas.

The company also has contracts with Essilor of America and Carl Zeiss Vision, which both operate optical labs in the U.S. and Mexico. Equipment from the Lockbourne lab will be sent to the Crawfordsville, Fayetteville and Dallas labs. The Indiana and Arkansas facilities are being expanded and are adding approximately 100 new jobs.

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Essilor to Close St. Petersburg Lab— Essilor of America plans to close its prescription laboratory at Joe’s Creek in St. Petersburg, Fla. as of May 1. The move will result in the layoff of 159 employees, Essilor spokesperson Kristan Zeilan said..

According to Zeilan, the Essilor Laboratories of America facility is being shuttered because of a reduction in sales volume from a major customer, which she declined to name. She noted that Essilor is providing assistance to employees during the transition period.

No other lab closings are planned, she added.

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Epic Labs

Epic Labs to Accept Online Orders, Launches Web Site—Epic Labs, a specials lab located in Waite Park, Minn., has launched a new website, www.epiclabsinc.com. The company will now be accepting orders directly through the site as well as lab-to-lab transfer through Vision Web.

“The new site will allow us to interact with our customers on a whole new level,” said Epic vice president Jesse Arndt. “And utilizing Vision Web’s expertise will certainly help streamline the process of farming out difficult jobs with lab-to-lab transfers. I think our customers have been waiting for this so we’re very happy to provide this new outlet to them.”

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  DAC Vision

Zeissind Invidual Lens

Zeiss Individual

Manufacturer:: Carl Zeiss Vision
Description: Progressive lens that is precisely personalized for the individual wearer.
Features: Entire design can be automatically expanded or contracted for the size and shape of the patient's chosen frame, balancing all viewing areas and ensuring the widest fields of vision. This feature enables wearers to select from an unlimited number of frame choices. The corridor is continuously variable in 0.1mm steps, allowing for fitting heights from 13mm to 35mm.

Provides maximum visual acuity for any face. The patient's monocular PD, vertex distance, pantoscopic angle and frame wrap angle are incorporated into the design calculation to create optimum performance in that patient's unique wearing position.

Lens offers optimized optics for every prescription. The lens creates and optimizes the design in “real-time” based on the patient’s exact combination of sphere, cylinder, axis and add power, eliminating the visual compromises that semi-finished lenses create for most prescriptions, Zeiss reports.

Availability: Zeiss Individual is available in clear and Transitions VI lenses (Gray and Brown) in 1.5 hard resin, 1.59 polycarbonate, and 1.67 high index. It is also available in 1.6 (clear only). Independent eye care practices can order Zeiss Individual through Carl Zeiss Vision Laboratories, enabled wholesale lab partners Perfect Optics, Expert Optics and Three Rivers Optical, and a network of authorized premier Zeiss distributor labs.
(888) ZEISS-4U
www.personalizedlens.com

 
Specialty Lens Designer Software

Specialty Lens Designer Software

Manufacturer: DAC International
Description: A design tool for both retail office and wholesale laboratory settings.
Features: DAC International's new “Specialty Lens Designer” is used as a design tool in both retail office and wholesale laboratory settings. With it, the optician can confidently design and model advanced specialty lenses, such as blended bifocals, blended bi-centric, 8-base wrap, slab-off, reverse slabs and lenticular designs, which are included in the optional “Specialty Lens Menu” of the DAC Digital Lens Surfacing System.

The “Specialty Lens Designer” software allows the optician or lab to view the lens, using 3-D graphics, prior to manufacturing and visually witness the changes in critical elements like zones size, edge thickness, frame shape, and material. As an example, the “Specialty Lens Designer” software will give a graphic illustration of the difference in thickness between a standard plastic, high-index plastic or any other material. The new software simplifies the ordering process for both the optician and the lens manufacturer by sending the optician’s completed orders, via email transfer, directly to partner labs using the DAC Surfacing System and Specialty Lens Menu Software.
(805) 684-8307
www.dac-intl.com

 
Crizal Lenses

Next Generation of Crizal Avancé
With Scotchgard Protector


Manufacturer: Essilor of America
Description: New generation of Crizal Avancé lenses featuring Scotchgard Protector offer all of the features and benefits of the prior generation, plus an improved scratch resistant layer.
Features: Integrated multi-layer AR stack, anti-static properties and super-hydrophobic topcoat utilizing Essilor’s High Surface Density Process and Pad Control System. Scratch Resistance Booster Layer offers an improved layer of scratch resistance that is twice as scratch resistant as Crizal Alizé and ensures durability and visual acuity over time, according to Essilor.
Availability: Finished and semi-finished single-vision.
(800) ESSILOR
www.essilorusa.com

 
Multigressiv MyView

Green LenSaver Tape

Manufacturer: Practical Systems, Inc. (PSI)
Description: Tape that protects the lens during processing.
Features: Provides high performance and outstanding visibility of the lens markings especially on camera assisted blocking systems. Offers excellent adhesion but is easy to remove and deblock without residue. Can be used with alloy or wax on all lens materials and curves without wrinkling.
Availability: PSI Green LenSaver Tape, part #1005, has a thickness of 3.4 millimeters and comes on a 36-yard roll.
(800) 237-8154
www.looktopsi.com

 
GTX-R Roughing Wheel

GTX-R Roughing Wheel

Manufacturer: Salem Vision Group
Description: High-performance roughing wheel.
Features: GTX-R roughing wheel is the product of the latest diamond bonding technology. The result is a significant increase in the overall performance of plastic lens edging, regardless of the material. The GTX-R cuts faster and cleaner, virtually eliminating wheel loading even with polycarbonate and Trivex lens materials. This innovative bond also reduces torque to maintain accurate axis alignment during edging, according to the manufacturer. The gold colored wheels can be used on all plastic lens materials and are available for all major brands of edgers.
(800) 234-1982, Ext. 232
www.salemdist.com

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In This Edition...
DOLLARS & SENSE
Decision Making:
Tools of the Trade,
Part 2
FOCUS ON…
Laura Bush
of Encore Optics
LAB NOTES

Carl Zeiss Vision
Opens Dallas Lab

COLA Sets Spring
Meeting Dates

Walmart to Close
Lockbourne Optical
Lab

Essilor to Close
St. Petersburg Lab

Epic Labs to
Accept Online Orders,
Launches Web Site

SALES &
MARKETING
MATTERS
No Time to Wait
For Flying Ducks
TECH TALK
Finishing Essentials,
Part 1
check HR CORNER
Unwritten Policies:
Are You Asking
for Trouble?
 

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DAC Vision
 
Tech Talk

Finishing Essentials
Part 1

Mastering the following tech tips will help you improve your finishing technique.

Briot USA Edger
Edger photo courtesy of Briot USA.

















Tracing

  • The tracer and edger are the hub of a finishing lab and should be centrally located in relationship to the lensometer and mounting table.
  • Check tracer calibration daily, keep the finishing lab clean and make sure there are no particles or debris in the tracer.
  • For best quality, trace every frame. Don't rely on the data in your edger's memory.
 
LabTalk Spotlight

In LabTalk's current feature, “Are You in the Game? Digitally Surfaced Lenses”  Liz Martinez, ABOC, NCLC, asks lens manufacturers when labs should begin offering digital lenses to their clients, regardless of whether or not they have the equipment to manufacture the lenses themselves. Here's what they had to say:

The message is clear: If you don't run onto the digitally surfaced playing field now, you might end up cheering on rival labs from the stands. The trick to taking advantage of this lens technology, of course, is to provide the best lenses to the widest audience with the fewest number of returns. Fortunately, the lens manufacturers have taken all the guesswork out of the game. Here, they let you in on their most effective plays.

The case for providing digitally surfaced lenses is clear. “Labs should offer digitally surfaced lenses, because, if this technology is used in the right way, it can enhance the vision of the end users,” says Samy Lauriette, director of digital surfacing at Essilor of America.

Inventory reduction is another point in favor of offering these lenses, according to Craig Fahan, Seiko Optical's marketing communications manager. “Instead of having SKUs up the wazoo, labs can make all the lenses with just eight or nine blanks,” he says.

Matt Lytle, vice president marketing at Shamir Insight, agrees. “Also, the labor needed to process a digitally surfaced lens is less than what it would take for semi-finished processing,” he adds.

According to Fahan, labs that choose to put in digital surfacing equipment can expect to recoup their costs in about 18 months, depending on the number of jobs they sell, of course. “When you consider the cost of the machine versus the reduced cost of labor and blanks,” he points out, “it lowers the real cost of the machine, and you see the return on investment pretty quickly.”

To read the entire article, “Are You in the Game? Digitally Surfaced Lenses” log on to http://www.labtalkonline.com/. There you will find the article listed under the Features section or in the Archives under Lenses.