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Dollars & Sense
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Why Do Your Customers Buy From YOU?

Do you know what is important to your customers?  I can imagine the standard three roll off the tongue, price, quality and service.  I’m not sure anymore if that is what is most important to them as much as an expectation.


Seriously. What is the most important issue or concern that your customers have?  When I ask that question I often do get the standard responses that everyone else gives.  Then, on rare occasion, someone surprises me and gives an answer that demonstrates they really know who they are selling to and why they are buying their services.


If you’re scratching your head and thinking for a brief moment, “I’m really not sure,” take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.  Before spending any marketing or sales dollars, get in your car and drive to the top 20 accounts and speak at length with the owner.  Ask them one simple question; “Why do you buy from me?”  If by chance you get “price, quality and service,” inquire further.  “Why else do you buy from me?”  Make sure you take good notes and move on to the next, and next, asking the same questions.  When you are done with your top accounts, take 10 accounts that you have been working on for a while and ask them a similar question; “Why won’t you buy from me?” Or “Why won’t you buy more from me?”  Again, take notes and move on. 


When you are done and slept on the data for a few nights, compile a few short sentences that describe what you heard.  Share it with others. Ingrain it into your sales and customer service people’s head. 


In this one short exercise you will have learned what you really sell, what your customers really buy and what you need to work on in 2013.  It is the easiest way to understand how your business is really doing.  And you got a road trip out of it as well!


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. 


DAC Vision

Lab Notes

Automation & Robotics Celebrates 30 Years of Innovation

It was in 1983 that a small group of Belgium men formed a company that had at its heart a dedication to finding creative technical solutions to the unique challenges faced by its customers. The group was led by Christian Closset who had a background in the automotive industry. Closset knew that in order to stand out from the crowd he had to bring something unique to the market. He set about to create the first of its kind automation technology for industries mired in manual and labor intensive production processes. Thirty years later, A&R has offices in Brazil, China, Thailand and the United States. The next thirty years is sure to bring even more innovation to A&R customers.

Santinelli International Celebrates 40 Years

Santinelli International commemorates its long, rich history with the celebration of its 40th anniversary this year. As one of the few remaining independent, family-owned and managed equipment companies, Santinelli International celebrates the reputation it has built for top-performance products and world-class service. The company has consistently been recognized as the leader in lens finishing by industry associations and has perennially received awards for both their products and service. Through the years, Santinelli’s industrial lab products have evolved to include the industry’s most advanced high curve, robotic handling and dry edging technology.

Salem Vision Group Goes Mobile

Salem Vision Group’s new mobile ready web site contains Salem’s products catalog, equipment showroom, and territory map. Created for fast easy access to the Salem sales team as well as to sales promotions, the newly redesigned site will also include an industry events calendar. The online catalog contains Salem’s complete line of Surfacing and Finishing supplies with direct links to online buying and to its knowledgeable sales support staff. The Equipment Showroom offers a comprehensive look at Salem’s equipment. This site includes downloadable equipment brochures and informational videos as well as sales support links to answer questions or address immediate requests. Salem’s web address has not changed; access from mobile devices will automatically route to the mobile site,

Discounted Commercial Collection Services

There’s a new member benefit for members of the Optical Lab Division of The Vision Council. Effective immediately, Optical Lab Division members are now eligible to receive a 40 percent discount on all commercial collection services from Allen, Maxwell & Silver, Inc. (AMS), a leading global accounts receivable management company. AMS’ fees are contingent upon AMS collecting the outstanding funds. They don’t get paid unless funds are collected. AMS collection activities are 100 percent transparent. In addition, AMS offers 24/7 remote access, allowing labs to view collector notes, review client transaction history, add comments to accounts, and run performance and monthly batch reports. Established in 1992, AMS is fully bonded and registered with the Commercial Collection Agency Association. Additionally, AMS is bonded and licensed in all states where this is required. AMS currently represents a broad roster of The Vision Council's members, as well as notable companies from varied industries. For more information regarding this new member benefit, contact Greg Chavez, [email protected] vice president of member services The Vision Council, or AMS representatives, Hal Ernest at [email protected] or Stacy Zimmer [email protected]

Optical Synergies Meeting

Ninety attendees took part in the three-day Optical Synergies conference that was held in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 21 – 24th. Vendors and lab members enjoyed presentation on both global and wholesale lab specific topics. Guest speakers included Mike Daley, The Vision Council, Frank Giammanco, FirstVision Media; and Mike Karlsrud, The Karlsrud Company. Vendors and members participated in individual meetings aside from the group presentations and as well as a vendor night. Founded in 1995, Optical Synergies provides its 115 members with an organized forum for the free exchange of information and ideas. This is accomplished through networking with other group members, focus groups, and an annual educational conference. Members also receive product cost savings and sales promotions that allow them to remain competitive and viable in the marketplace. Optical Synergies has created an alliance between independent optical laboratories, integrated retailers and manufactures to preserve and strengthen each other’s businesses.

Essilor’s Plans for X-Cel Optical

Essilor has revealed additional details about its recent acquisition of an 80 percent share in X-Cel Optical, an ophthalmic lens manufacturer based in Sauk Rapids, Minn
“The development of the X-Cel Optical product line, which fits very well with Essilor’s, will be led by the Group’s various distribution networks in the United States, comprising both proprietary and independent laboratories, and around the world,” said Essilor. “The X-Cel Optical offer may also be moved upmarket, using Essilor’s leading-edge technologies, in particular the Crizal range of surface coatings, as a lever.”


DAC Vision

Focus On...

Gregory DiPasquale of

By Judith Lee

Talk about having your cake and eating it, too. Gregory DiPasquale can’t believe his long-time employer, Essilor, facilitated his dream of lab ownership—while all the while retaining DiPasquale as an Essilor employee.

Now in his third month as Principal of OptiMatrix in Huntsville, Ala. and Future Optical Laboratory in Jackson, Tenn., DiPasquale said he jumped at the chance to purchase a 20 percent equity stake in these two Essilor Partner Labs.

“I had wanted to buy my own lab for about 10 years. Naturally, I was intrigued by Essilor’s partner program. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to purchase equity,” said DiPasquale. “Now, Essilor is my partner and my employer.”

The two labs, located near Nashville, Tenn., are now being marketed under one Web site, As acting sales manager, DiPasquale is developing two key strategies to:

  1. Become a full-service distributor for the ECP, bundling lens and frame products with equipment and operational advice
  2. Develop relationships with ophthalmology practices that provide optical, and build the MD-optical segment

Not surprisingly, he is enabling these strategies with an expanded product line and new technology.

“We’re exploring new products like BluTech, Varilux, and Kodak. We recently were granted in-house digital capability and Crizal in-house coating capability,” DiPasquale said.

Crizal is being implemented now, and digital surfacing will happen in an April-May timeframe. Meanwhile, the combined lab team of about 50 is busy with cross-training and learning new jobs.

“We aren’t downsizing, but deploying the workforce in different ways. There’s a learning curve now, but people will emerge with new skill sets,” he noted.

For the balance of 2013, DiPasquale predicted new sales launches focusing on doctor alliances and buying group promotions, as well as the use of Essilor tools and marketing programs to promote Transitions, Kodak, and Shamir products.

“I’ve learned that the entrepreneurial mode produces great highs and lows every day,” he said. “It’s not the same as a corporate environment. It’s fun.”


DAC Vision

LabTalk Spotlight


By Julie Bos
Private branding of AR coating can add up to big profits for optical labs, because it incorporates lower manufacturing costs and little or no R&D investment. In-house AR coating enables labs to control the quality and service levels of AR coating, thereby offering high-quality products with more confidence. Manufacturing premium AR coating in-house helps lower costs, increase profit margins and generate higher overall revenue. Bringing AR in-house can also potentially reduce delivery times to help create happier, more profitable and confident customers. What’s not to love?
iCoat’s Technology Licensing Division offers a licensing program enriched with technological expertise and process know-how, making it easy for virtually any size operation to replicate iCoat’s lens treatment technology at their own location. This program is a turnkey plan for a successful in-house AR operation that allows working with any coating equipment supplier and any lens manufacturer, affording customers true independence and negotiation power when buying equipment or lenses. The program provides everything from initial planning and facility layout to ongoing support, backup coating services and optional retail AR training courses. Having a successful and thriving in-house AR business is controlled by three components—having confidence in the AR product you’re offering, having efficient manufacturing operations and a vigilantly analyzed financial plan. Finding the perfect blend of all three is where in-house AR success begins.

To find out more and see what industry leaders have to offer in the way of AR equipment for large and small labs, plus new formulations, visit to read the entire article.


DAC Vision

Make What You Say, Pay!

Who’s Who in the Zoo?

“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” really does exist. The concept is an old one, but a good one to honor. There is nothing worse than seeing a sale de-rail because some influencer you missed ultimately said, “No.”

Robyne Shustack is a successful saleswoman in the pharma industry and she reminded me in a recent seminar of the timeliness of an old but true best sales practice. While the endgame varies by industry (In her world it is gaining formulary exclusivity and increasing sales volume), in all industries, what Robyne knows applies to most businesses today: that the road to the end decision maker is usually not linear.

“Clearing one’s own mind of pre-set conceptions and remembering that formal, informal and personal pathways exist is key. ‘Who’s who in the zoo’ brings this process to a very basic level. It reminds you to ask the questions below to each and every person with whom you interact to further build your awareness and understanding of how the networking works within that institution and who influences whom.
•Who should I speak with next?
•Who else is impacted by this?
•Who is in charge of that?
•Do you know anyone that works in that department?
• How can I contact them?
•Can you introduce me?

Thanks, Robyne, for this reminder. I would only add that as decision-making is increasingly diffused in companies, “Who’s who in the zoo” becomes even more critical for shortening sales cycles and winning the maximum amount of appropriate business possible.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay! ©2012 Anne Miller, author, “metaphorically Selling”

New Products

Progressive Choice Free-Form

Now patients have a new Choice. Carl Zeiss Vision is offering a new customized progressive lens series, Choice, consisting of three new progressive lenses: ZEISS Progressive Choice, ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus, and ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus V. ZEISS Progressive Choice lenses are optically optimized for up to 30 percent larger fields of clear vision. Four corridor options, sized for 13, 15, 17 and 19mm fitting heights, are available. No compensated powers are required for verification of the lenses.

“Some patients are reluctant to make the leap in price to a free-form progressive lens,” said Roya Graily, product marketing manager, Carl Zeiss Vision. “At the same time, many practices are concerned that free-form lenses will make dispensing more complex. ZEISS Progressive Choice addresses both concerns: it is priced and dispensed like a semi-finished lens, but the wearer will enjoy significantly better visual performance.”

ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus and ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus V are fully customized for the wearer’s combination of sphere, cylinder, axis and add for up to 40 percent larger fields of clear vision compared to ordinary progressives. Both employ newly improved ZEISS Center of Rotation Evaluation (CORE) technology, which uses a highly accurate calculation of the wearer’s center of rotation distance to sharpen vision throughout the lens. They differ only in the way the corridor is determined:
• ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus offers the five corridor options for fitting heights of 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21mm
• ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus V employs a corridor sized automatically in 0.1mm increments to the fitting height of the patient’s frame.
For more information contact Carl Zeiss Vision at

For Small Lab Applications

Perfect for small lab applications, the new Alta Zd edger from Briot offers maximum creativity, extraordinary stability, and boasts flawless execution of the most complex jobs with speed, precision, and ease. The small finishing wheel allows for elaborate finishing capability while reducing the use of the drill/mill tool. The Alta Zd is also fully versatile and easily adapts to individual requirements including a partial processing function and ability to combine a groove together with a V-Bevel. This machine delivers consistent and reliable results with accuracy measuring 1/100th of a millimeter. The Alta Zd made its debut to the public at Vision Expo East in New York. For more information on the new Alta Zd, contact Briot USA at 1-800-292-7468.

New SYNC Lens Now in Phoenix Lens Material

HOYA’s new SYNC lens is a single vision alternative for younger patients, including children and pre-presbyopes. This lens utilizes a front surface radial aspheric design with a back surface vertical aspheric component, allowing the user the added relaxation to help sustain prolonged amounts of near work. HOYA has re-launched SYNC in the Phoenix lens material so ECPs can help their younger and active patients combat the symptoms brought on by Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and Digital Eye Strain (DES). For more information contact HOYA at 972-221-4141 or visit their Web site at

AR Gets Small

(Photo: MiniCoater )
Well-suited for retail chains and small to mid-size optical labs, the Mini Coating System (MCS) from Leybold Optics offers advanced technology in a compact platform, needing only 200 to 250 sq. ft. of space. The MCS can apply AR to five pairs of lenses per run on both sides, on edged or uncut lenses, thanks to an innovative lens flip over mechanism. Even with its compact design, this machine includes all the latest technology such as ion assisted deposition, in-chamber hydrophobic, electron beam gun, a turbo pumping system and intelligent software. All this is designed to apply a high-quality AR coating, to any lens material with green or blue reflection color, standard hydrophobic, super hydrophobic layer, mirror coating, on spin coated or dip coated lenses. The MCS platform can be combined with our turnkey lab packages, MicroLab with spin coating or with our dip coating solutions. For more information contact Leybold Optics at or by calling (866) 678-1881.

New License Agreement

Carl Zeiss Vision and Rodenstock have entered into a cross-license agreement for patents covering certain ophthalmic lens technologies, including Carl Zeiss Vision’s back-surface freeform progressive lens technology. This agreement will allow Carl Zeiss Vision and Rodenstock to accelerate the delivery of advanced ophthalmic lens products and related technology to markets throughout the world.


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

Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor
[email protected]

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