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A MONTHLY BRIEFING FOR OPTICAL LABORATORY OWNERS AND MANAGERS August 2012


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Don't Let Politics Get in the Way of Business

Although some of us might be disappointed with the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, don't hold out for repeal before getting back to business. Many of the news shows infer that uncertainty with respect to politics, the healthcare reform law, and global uncertainty keep business owners from investing and therefore a lot of money is on the sidelines. Why? All of us have weathered storms in business and expect to continue to do so; this is no different. There are some things in the law that many like and some things many hate.

Entrepreneurs with the true spirit of their title don't look for reasons to hold back, they look for opportunities to make their business thrive no matter the political climate. I've spoken to several lab owners about the healthcare reform act and most are worried about the tax increases and potential penalties that employers may face if they don't provide coverage. But the biggest worries seem to be the softness in demand and the threats from mega competitors. These are the same concerns that have permeated our industry for years. Don't get caught up in politics to the point where you start to act like Congress and do nothing. There is always something you can do to succeed. That's why you have your own business, isn't it? —Jason A. Meyer, managing director, 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 A. Meyer at jam@hpcpuckett.com.

 

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Tri-Supreme Re-launches Website

Tri-Supreme Optical Labs, based in Farmingdale, N.Y., has re-launched its popular website. The site features a new look, easier access and navigation and a customized dashboard based on a user's browsing history. It is configured for mobile devices as well. Accounts of Tri-Supreme who create an account at trisupreme.com can view monthly promotions, read the lab's latest newsletter, download its current price list, view over 200 lens spec sheets detailing lens availability and print cutout charts for progressive lenses.

 

Hoya iD Lifestyle and iQ Free-Form Technology Now Available In-House at Luzerne Optical

Luzerne Optical, located in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. recently became the first independently owned optical laboratory to install Hoya iD Lifestyle and iQ Free-Form production in their facility.

"As an independently owned lab, we feel it's important to offer our customers a wide range of quality products," commented owners Neil and John Dougherty. "We believe in Hoya lens technology. Likewise, we are confident that our in-house processing of the Hoya iD Lifestyle and iQ series of lenses will provide the quality and quick turn-time our eyecare professionals need."

Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd. is the largest independently owned, single location wholesale optical lab in the U.S., according to Vision Monday's 2011 Top Labs Report. It has been digitally processing lenses in-house since 2009.

 

Toledo Optical Conference Offers Practice Development Ideas

Several hundred eyecare professionals and staff members attended Toledo Optical's "Attainment 2012," a daylong educational event held in Maumee, Ohio on June 13. Guest speakers offered a range of practice building ideas, including Andrew Karp, group editor, lenses and technology for the Jobson Optical Group, who presented an overview of optical industry trends, Clint Longenecker, PhD, professor of leadership at the University of Toledo, who discussed the importance of time management and Tom Bowen of the Williams Group, who offered strategies for growing an optical practice in the current economic climate.

A panel of optometrists shared practice management ideas before keynote speaker, Tom Sullivan, wrapped up the program by describing how he overcame the challenges of blindness to achieve success in the sports and entertainment fields.


 

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Focus On

Optical Prescription Lab's Brian Conley

By Judith Lee

What's the single thing a lab can do to resolve (or greatly alleviate) technology, training and customer service challenges? Hire people with a positive attitude toward learning and adapting to change.

That is Optical Prescription Lab's "secret to success," according to marketing director Brian Conley. An example is OPL's February 2012 installation of digital equipment, which went smoothly thanks to a comprehensive in-house staff training program created by OPL with the help of Shamir and Varilux.

Conley credits the leadership of the Birmingham, Ala. lab for investing the time to create a program and then provide the training to the entire staff. But the most essential element comes from the OPL staff members themselves.

"Optical Prescription Lab's employees have always been eager to learn new things and are excited to get more information. I think this is a major factor that makes our customer service second to none," Conley said.

This combination of the right attitude combined with in-depth training equals a workforce that outperforms automation.

"We don't use much lab automation at all. The production team walks the job from one station to the next to ensure that each process is always up to OPL's standards. We do not depend on a machine to tell us everything is working correctly; our employees check each lens at each station to ensure that if there is a problem, it's caught before final inspection," Conley explained.

OPL backs up the human intelligence with a strong digital marketing program. Its website is frequently updated with promotions of name brands such as Shamir, Crizal and Varilux, and offers optical education, photos, and upcoming events.

The big push for the rest of 2012 is social media, where OPL harnesses technology to expand its personal touch with customers and prospects. "OPL is acquiring accounts from all over the United States with the help of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn," Conley said. "Constant updates are always being added about what's new and exciting in the lab, and this excitement is driving ECPs to see what OPL is all about."




LabTalk Spotlight

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...Is It Time for a New Edger?

By Christie Walker

Do you hear that telltale ticking sound? "Tick tock, tick tock." That is the sound of a dozen little warning signs, bells and whistles going off in your lab, indicating it's time for a new edger. I've asked experts in finishing to provide labs with a check list of signs and symptoms that may indicate it's time for a new edger.

CHECK LIST
Answer the following 10 questions to see if you should be looking into purchasing a new edger:

  1. Is my current edger more than five years old? Am I spending more than 25 percent of the original purchase price annually on repairs or more than 10 percent of production time repairing the unit(s)?
  2. Is there any finish work that I do not currently take on because of limited finishing capabilities? Will it be more profitable if I can complete this work within my own lab?
  3. Does increasing volume indicate that I should have multiple edgers?
  4. Is the number of job types increasing to a point where I would get a better ROI if I had an edger that worked with all job types for example, on drilled, shape edit, or base 8?
  5. Are the features on my edger addressing my edging needs?
  6. Are the features on my edger allowing me to remain competitive?
  7. Are there new edging features that would allow me to expand my business?
  8. How much time is spent reworking jobs as a result of poor edging?
  9. Am I losing any business based on inconsistent edging results?
  10. Would automation alleviate me of select labor and qualitative concerns regarding the above finishing concerns?

If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you might want to look into purchasing a new or additional edger.

Get advice from the experts on how to determine if you need a new edger and how to decide what to buy by reading the entire article on the newly redesigned LabTalk website.


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Make What You Say Pay

Olympic Bold:
Mental Toughness

It is so thrilling to watch the Olympics. What bodies! What strength! These athletes are the epitome of discipline, purpose, beauty, elegance and dedication – an inspiration to all of us. For me, the gymnasts are the most exciting athletes to watch because of their astonishing control, grace, and power. However, if you watched the women's Russian gymnast team, you saw that control crumble. It was particularly fascinating (and painful) to observe how they fell apart both individually and as a team after some serious errors on their last routine. It wasn't a failure in skill that brought them down, but a failure in psychology and mental self-talk.

The analogy to business is obvious. Given comparable selling skills, one's mental toughness in the face of adversity, for example, a tough economy, often makes the difference between success and failure. Mental strength won't compensate for lack of skill, but in challenging situations, it often makes the difference in outcomes.

If you would like tips to toughen up your own mental fitness, I recommend this article What is Mental Toughness and How to Develop It? by David Yukelson, PhD, Coordinator of Sport Psychology Services Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes, Penn State University.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay!
©2012, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling"
www.annemiller.com

NEW PRODUCTS

True-Form System

Manufacturer: Coburn Technologies

Description: Coburn Technologies is introducing the True-Form high-volume production system for free-form and traditional Rx lenses. The True-Form System consists of the new CobaltDS high-speed digital surfacing generator and CobaltDP dual spindle soft-tool digital polisher.

Features: There are several critical differences that set the new True-Form System apart from other high-volume digital surfacing systems currently on the market, according to Curt Brey, vice president of marketing and business development for Coburn Technologies. "The CobaltDS Digital Surface Generator uses a new cold mist cutting technology which combines the benefits of a dry cut generator with those of a wet cutting process," said Brey. "The result: the CobaltDS eliminates the need for a large, high-maintenance water reclamation system, yet it produces a surface finish that may just be the best in the industry.

"The CobaltDP Digital Polisher is a dual spindle, high-speed polishing machine which uses only three (3) soft-tool laps to process the widest range of lenses, fast, and with crystal clear results," Brey noted. "Together the matched technology of the True-Form system can surface all plastic lens materials precisely, but notably processes polycarbonate faster and better than has been possible before."

Coburn Technologies has successfully completed field testing, and has begun demonstrations of the new system at its corporate headquarters in Connecticut. Coburn is currently taking orders for the new True-Form system and customer shipments will begin in August. The system will be formally released at Vision Expo West in Las Vegas, Nev., September 6-8, 2012.

www.coburntechnologies.com
(800)-COBURN-1


Total Day Tint
(Product # 37619)

Manufacturer: BPI (Brain Power Inc.)

Description: A new lens tint that blocks UVA and the harmful violet and blue recently implicated in macular degeneration.

Features: Total Day is tan/yellow in color. It allows unimpaired daytime color vision while blocking much of the harmful violet/blue. Available in four-ounce bottles.

www.callbpi.com; (800) CALL-BPI (U.S.); 001-305-264-4465 (International)


Meisystem.com

Manufacturer: Mei System

Description: Mei System has updated its website with new content and graphics.

Features: Highlights of the new site include:

  • Company video on the home page
  • Company social network links with more information and documents about the Mei System
  • News regarding Mei System's new products, exhibitions and events
  • Mei Club, an area in which the company hosts a video with client testimonials
  • New section in the products pages featuring video demonstrations of machines, a productivity calculation system (available only for some machines; user ID and password is required), plus a leaflet and technical sheet download
  • New section, "Services," with information about assistance, service and training.

www.meisystem.com; +39 035 339112


PSI Digi-Laps

Manufacturer: PSI (Practical Systems Inc.)

Description: Digi-Lap Polishing Tools from PSI (Practical Systems Inc.) are long lasting soft laps for digital/free-form polishing.

Features: Digi-Laps are flexible, durable, high performance tools that are designed for maximum output to offer extended life. They are designed with sturdy polyurethane that withstands polish breakdown and offers excellent resistance to sharp edge lenses, according to PSI. Digi-Laps are available in three designs: Digi-Flex I/A for i-Flex and Auto-Flex machines and Digi-OMax and Digi-BMax first and second step tools for Swift, CCP102 and CCP103 machines.

www.LookToPSI.com; (800) 237-8154

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Send us news about your lab's new products, services, special events, tech advances or personnel changes.

Andy Karp

Andrew Karp
Editor, Lab Advisor
akarp@jobson.com

 

Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk
cwalker@jobson.com

Visit LabTalkonline.com for additional articles of interest about labs.

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