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LAB ADVISOR
A MONTHLY BRIEFING FOR OPTICAL LABORATORY OWNERS AND MANAGERS September 2013


Dollars & Sense


Who Are You Selling To?

The greatest impact on selling in the future will be based on the gender of the buyer. Think about it. Several years ago there was a very successful line of books and videos written by Dr. John Gray called “Men are from Mars. Women are Venus,” which has expanded into all kinds of other materials and applications. The reason this series was so commercially successful is because it outlined the very core differences in the communication styles of men and women. Today, women influence either directly or indirectly 80 percent of health care buying decisions.

Sales calls are expensive to make face-to-face. If you haven’t yet done so, take your salespersons salary, benefits and expenses and add them up. Next, take an honest look on how many sales calls they make in a month or a year and do the math. Many organizations find that there is a $60-$80 investment per call! Finally, ask yourself am I being as effective as I can be on each and every call? After all, you’ve invested $80 before you even knocked on the door.

Women in general play a significant role in our industry. Often they are the buyers of the products and services we sell. Are your presentations based in facts and figures or do you build context around them? Do you provide ways to explain how your products and services apply to everyday situations? Do you take time to provide suggestions on how your solution ultimately solves a problem?

Regardless of the gender of the buyer, we need to be changing the way we sell. Long gone are the days of “showing up and throwing up.” Today, we need to be business advisors and solution providers. Knowing and accepting that we may speak one thing and it is heard another way, is a good first step towards sales effectiveness.

Michael Karlsrud is the owner and CEO of 6 Calls, a tele-services company that serves the optical industry with its two divisions; Telecare and Business-to-Business. www.karlsrudcompany.com or www.6Calls.biz

 




Lab Notes

Last Call for Labs to Sign Up Their Customers for Think About Your Eyes

The Optical Lab Division Incentive Program for signing up ECPs to the Think About Your Eyes doctor locator will end on September 30th. All participating practices must be signed-up by the program’s end date. To date, over 4000 eye care providers have committed to the program. To make sure your accounts are a part of this national comprehensive eye health initiative, which will include TV, print, radio, online advertising and social media, optical lab representatives can sign up their accounts for the doctor locator. For your lab to get credit when your customers sign up, they must include your personal promo code. For more information and to set up your promo code, contact Carmen Sevilla at csevilla@thevisioncouncil.org or by calling 703-548-3513. Available to Lab Division members only.

Valuable Marketing Tool for Labs

The 2013 U.S. Optical Retailer Report and Directory is now available from Jobson Optical Research. This is a comprehensive lisitng of the top U.S. optical retailers detailing contact information for the company headquarters, key executives, buyer names for all product categories, and trade names/DBAs, including over 100 headquarter locations. It also includes Vision Monday’s annual ranking and analysis of the "Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers" is also included. This valuable article provides 2012 estimates of sales and business unit counts for each retailer. Featured are the top 10 U.S. retailers. The report section includes an industry overview based on The Vision Council’s VisionWatch exclusive data for the year-ending December 2012. Sales and unit numbers are given for the total U.S. vision care services market and eyewear sales. Trend data for frames‚ lenses‚ contacts and refractive surgery is provided showing year-on-year comparisons. For more information contact Jennifer Zupnick at 212-274-7164 or jzupnick@jobson.com.

Making It Easier for Your Customers

VisionWeb and FoxFire Systems Group, an electronic health record and practice management software system, integrated their systems enabling users of FoxFire Systems Group to order spectacle lenses from laboratories on the VisionWeb supplier network from within the FoxFire System. The integration reduces duplicate data entry and streamlines the ordering process for FoxFire users. FoxFire System users will benefit from the convenience of online ordering, improved accuracy, and the ability to track the status of orders at any time, from within the environment of the FoxFire System. For more information visit www.visionweb.com or www.foxfiresg.com

Transitions Optical to be Acquired by Essilor International

PPG Industries and Essilor International have reached an agreement for Essilor to acquire PPG Industries’ 51 percent stake in Transitions Optical. Before this agreement, Essilor held a 49 percent share of Transitions. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2014. In the interim, Transitions Optical will continue to be a separately managed and operated company with Transitions lenses still available through other lens manufacturers.
“Essilor has been a collaborative partner with us from the beginning, and this transaction is a continuation and enhancement of a relationship that has brought value to us and to our industry. There are tremendous opportunities to boost expansion of photochromic products, particularly in fast-growing markets,” said Dave Cole, president, Transitions Optical.

 




Focus On...

Precision San Diego and Mark Becker

By Judith Lee

Many optical labs say their focus is on the Eye Care Professional (ECP). Few have taken it to the level of a turnkey eyewear education program like Precision San Diego’s “Professional Choice.”

“We’ve always felt that Precision has to do much more than just process lenses for our accounts,” said Precision President Mark Becker. “Our goal is to also provide methods and materials that help make the office more successful.”

The new program, free to Precision customers, includes:
• Patient prescribing guide
• 8-page patient education booklet
• Rx folder
• Changeable counter easels about lens options
• Focused training sessions and tracking methods

All printed pieces are unbranded, allowing each office to personalize the program with the products they choose to offer. ECPs may accumulate reward dollars, which can be used in any way the office wishes, as long as it is promotes practice growth.

“Today’s eyewear consumer is more discerning and has more options than ever on where to purchase eyewear,” noted Becker. “ECPs must work harder and smarter to earn patient loyalty. Educating patients is key. At Precision we believe no office should have to face today’s competition alone.”

Becker, who in 2006 partnered with the Dearden family (owners since the early 1980’s), said personal customer relationships are deeply ingrained in the company culture. Along with providing high quality products, it invests in programs that empower the ECP and staff to dispense at a higher level.

“We make sure the offices we work with can prescribe to their patients premium lens solutions, easily and in a manner the consumer understands. Doing so allows patients to make choices, with professional guidance, assuring their satisfaction and optimum vision,” Becker said.

He described it as a way of both “paying it forward” and “paying it back.”

“We believe that the loyalty our customers show to us should be paid in kind,” Becker noted. “If the ECP faces a business challenge that we can help with, we will do just that.”

 




LabTalk Spotlight

Next Steps in Lab Automation: Tracking Total Efficiency

By Julie Bos

Managing production in a busy optical lab is no small task. It requires sufficient inventory, quality equipment, knowledgeable employees—and perhaps most importantly—efficient production processes that keep jobs moving smoothly throughout the lab. If done right, labs can optimize performance, minimize breakage and better meet customer demand—all while maximizing their profitability and fueling business growth.

Despite the complexities involved, many optical labs have found the key to success with automation. New advancements in automated hardware and robotic conveyors are proving to be a gold mine—and numerous labs across the country are experiencing the positive effects.

One Size Does Not Fit All
The theory behind automation is simple: Transform large workloads into standardized processes that are organized, efficient and way more cost-effective than their manually-processed counterparts.

Yet while the idea of automation makes perfect sense, implementation can vary widely from site to site—based on lab layout, solution preferences, timeframe, staffing levels and capital investment. Once you know there are different ways to automate your lab, you need to research the best approach for you.

This article examines several new advancements that are taking lab automation by storm plus has a companion article on conveyors. To learn more go to www.LabTalkOnline.com and click on this feature on the home page.

 



Make What You Say, Pay!

When Customers Are Wrong, Paint Them a Picture


Customers are always right, aren’t they? Yeah, right.
There are plenty of instances where a customer is dead wrong. Whether or not you choose to correct them is up to you, provided it doesn’t impact your sale. But sometimes you don’t have that option.

Let’s say you have a customer who is certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re trying to overcharge him for your service. He’s demanding that you adjust his next bill to his liking, or he’s canceling the order. The problem is he’s wrong. So what can you do?

You could:
• Bring in previous invoices indicating there’s been no price change
• Present a chart showing the billings for the last year
• Build up the buyer’s self-esteem, praising him for his reputation for fairness, before asking him to take another look.

But which one of these will work? A study from Dartmouth University sheds some light.
In conducting their study, researchers used the same three approaches described above. The most effective technique: Presenting the data in a chart.

Here’s why: Most of the brain’s processing power is devoted to images. We understand images more quickly than words and retain them longer. When images conflict with sound or text, our brains gravitate toward vision. What does this mean for you as a sales professional?

It means that charts, graphs and other visual aids go much further in convincing your buyer than a conversation or a mountain of raw data. Telling a buyer he’s wrong is one of the toughest challenges in sales – and if visuals can help with that consider how they can help you persuade buyers in other situations.

There are plenty of resources on how to create powerful and persuasive visuals. But you don’t have to be a graphic artist to get your point across. Clarity and simplicity are far more important than creativity. The best images get your point across in an instant – creating a “flash of insight” that will embed itself in your buyer’s memory … and hopefully change their thinking.

Guest blogger Michael Boyette shared interesting research to help salespeople change customers’ minds when they are wrong on Anne Miller’s blog. Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay! ©2012 Anne Miller, author, “metaphorically Selling” www.annemiller.com

New Products

Two New Features for Automated Taping


PSI’s Automatic Surface Tape Applicator (ASTA) Handling System now offers two new features: a hot knife to minimize blade replacements, saving time and money, while creating less debris and mess; and, new suction cup handling that gives labs the ability to use multiple job tray designs and provides smoother transportation of the lens between the tray and the taper. The ASTA Handling System combines PSI’s Automated Surface Tape Applicator (ASTA) with conveyors and robotics to completely automate the process of taping lenses. It is a simple unit that is easy to install and operate and can be incorporated into a lab’s existing conveyor belt system. For more information contact PSI at 800-237-8154 or visit their Website at www.LookToPSI.com

New Line of Tools and Supplies


Santinelli has expanded its selection of high-quality supplies, frame parts, tools and accessories, offering convenient, one-stop-shopping for both dispensary and finishing lab needs. The Santinelli International Optical Supplies product line includes hundreds of items showcased in a beautiful, full-color catalog available in an e-mag version on their Website, at trade shows, and upon request. The collection includes everyday staples, such as nose pads, temple tips and screws, but also features unique workshop aides. One of the featured lines is the exclusive “Visionary” Plier Collection developed by Breitfeld & Schliekert (B&S), a German company known internationally for highly functional and "refined craftsmanship" quality products. To request a catalog or place an order, please email orders@santinelli.com or visit their Website at www.Santinelli.com .

Versatile and Flexible Storage for Labs


The new Lab Kits from Eye Designs creates a more efficient and convenient work space where each lab tool and frame order has its place and is easily accessible. Lab Kits feature wall mounted panels along with a variety of accessories such as aluminum shelves, open bins and multi tool holders. The wall panels are constructed of marine-grade plastic for extreme strength and durability while the specialized accessory components snap and lock into place for stability. With a neutral gray finish and anodized aluminum and black components, Lab Kits are modern and stylish to also enhance the overall design of the lab environment. Lab Kits are available in three different options to meet all storage and organization needs. Each individual Lab Kit includes two wall panels with a variety of accessories and measures 24” w x 48” h. For more information call Eye Designs at 1-800-346-8890 or visit their Website at www.eyedesignsshop.com 

Updated Multicultural Resources Catalogue


Transitions Optical recently updated its popular Multicultural Resources Catalogue with new information and tools to better connect eye care professionals with their culturally diverse patients. New resources for 2013 include ABO-accredited education courses, a series of best practice videocasts, and a Multicultural Initiative Report from Transitions Optical. Eye care professionals can request a copy of the catalogue and other printed materials free of charge through a new online ordering feature at MyMulticulturalToolkit.com, or by contacting Transitions Optical Customer Service directly at CService@Transitions.com or (800) 848-1506.

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


Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor
cwalker@jobson.com

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

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