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Dollars & Sense

Relationships & Conversations

What are you telling your customers? Are you telling them about products and services you offer?   It’s great if you are and it’s not enough.

The optical market is changing very rapidly for everyone.   Health service providers are moving from providing services to now managing materials.   As a result, all need to react and plan for where the industry is heading.

Our customers have few relationships that they depend on more than their laboratory. Your dedication to them over the years has put you in a position of confidence and trust.   They will also look to you for direction and guidance, which is needed today more than ever.  

Telling them about the products and services you have is great, but it’s not the whole story.   We need to sit down with them and talk through strategy on packages, products, services and promotions to take these challenges head on.   There is an estimated 35 million new patients coming into the market through the Affordable Healthcare Act.   The vast majority of them are coming under the entitlement programs we often hear about.   Typically, this group of consumers will want the basic benefit provided by their insurance plan and little or no more.   This economic shift will have a ripple effect on everyone supplying eyewear. Customers need to know you have an answer to this influx of new patients that is affordable, acceptable and profitable for everyone in the value chain.

Don’t assume your customers have the answer.   Use this opportunity to let them know what you can do for them to address these patients.   Relationships and conversations today need to go way beyond products and services and into strategy and solutions for future challenges.   Ironically, the future has arrived.

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. or


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Lab Notes

Mark Your Calendar for Two Lab Events

Coming up April 24th and 25th in Temecula, California is the annual California Lab Committee spring meeting. Topics of the meeting will include: state regulations, the power of social media, customer service as a commodity and business growth through product diversification.

Don’t forget the “main event” September 18 – 20th at Vision Expo West with lab-centric education and programs. Topics are being developed and will be announced soon.  

Exclusive Sales Professional Training for Members

For Vision Council members, Michael Karlsrud will now be the primary host of a series of educational programs and training seminars called, On the Road Sales Coach. Karlsrud will also work with The Vision Council members to develop and execute customized training and education programs for sales meetings. Karlsrud has been a guest coach for The Vision Council's On the Road Sales Coach training program since 2009. Find out more about The Vision Council's On the Road Sales Coach program, and other customized member training and education programs at Mike can be reached via email at [email protected] or at

HOYA Vision Care Opens Two New Labs

Phoenix, Arizona has joined the free form revolution with HOYA Vision Care’s grand opening of their newest laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona. “The Phoenix market is big and getting bigger,” said Carson Utech, area sales director for HOYA Vision Care. “We need to have a local presence and the opportunity to service independent ECPs here is going to be exciting.”   The new lab is located at 1635 West University Drive, Tempe AZ.

Migrating south, the free-form revolution continues to grow with the opening of another HOYA Vision Care laboratory in Jackson, Mississippi. “The opportunity to locally service independent ECPs in another market is exciting for us. The Jackson area is growing and we want to grow with it,” said Michael Dougher, COO for HOYA Vision Care. This new laboratory is located at 289 Commerce Park Drive in Ridgeland, MS.

Simplimatic Automation To Build Expansive Manufacturing Facility in Bedford, Virginia

Simplimatic Automation – a leading provider of conveyors and automation announced its plans to build a 60,000-square-foot automation manufacturing facility in Bedford County, Virginia. The new center will be built on roughly 12 acres in the county’s 500-acre business park in the New London Business and Technology Center, located at U.S. Route 460 and Meade Road in Forest.   The company is consolidating its operations with this move to Bedford County, merging its existing sites and enterprises in both the greater Lynchburg area and in Sarasota, Florida. For more information, visit or call 434-385-9181.

Vision Dynamics Lab

Vision Dynamics Laboratory, the glass lens specialist, is now the largest independent glass lens processor in the United States. Running over 500 glass jobs per day, their focus on high-volume glass surfacing and finishing ensures their products are a cost effective solution for labs looking to direct their resources to materials with greater demand. Vision Dynamics’ dedication to glass lens production allows improved worldwide sourcing of glass lens blanks and low prices on all major brands.

“Our lab’s level of glass expertise and volume of work allow for economies of scale that in most cases make it more profitable for an average lab to outsource its glass work to us than to maintain internal glass capabilities,” said John Dippold, vice president of operations.


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Focus On...

Katz & Klein

By Judith Lee

Since 1937, Katz and Klein has been surviving and thriving by adapting to change in the optical industry. Some of the more recent changes demanded yet another change, which may prove to be the biggest change of all. In September 2013, Katz and Klein relinquished its independence to become part of Essilor’s optical laboratory division.

            “In order to keep our business, employees and customers as we know them, we felt we had to align with a strong partner, and we decided to partner with Essilor,” said Mike Francesconi, president of Katz and Klein.

            Since joining Katz and Klein in 1978, Francesconi worked his way from sales rep to partner, and then, with Corrine Hood, bought out the senior partner. Hood was the president, managing inside lab operations, and Francesconi was the vice president, managing sales and outside relationships. Since merging with Essilor, Hood has retired and Francesconi has absorbed her duties.

            “I’m enjoying the inside management, both the work and the exposure to our very fine lab team. It’s a change for all of us; you have to be able to adapt. Some change is comfortable, and some change is not,” Francesconi said.

            One way Katz and Klein has successfully adapted has been through involvement in the industry-at-large. Francesconi was president of the Optical Laboratory Association and brokered the deal to merge with the Vision Council in January 2012. Francesconi said he is most proud of this industry contribution.

            “I knew it was the best thing for our association. It allowed us to do more for our members. The Vision Council provides us with more marketing tools, lobbyists, and education programs,” he said.

            In the merger, OLA gave up its annual show, which rankled some. But Francesconi said that the lab division (formerly OLA) merged with Vision Expo West as its show, and VEW “gets stronger every year.” Some changes from within Katz and Klein have been the adoption of in-house AR in 2003 and the introduction of digital free-form surfacing in 2012.

            “There was a big learning curve with AR, but it was good for our business. Digital free-form went easier, and that may have been because we partnered with Shamir. They really helped us manage the learning curve,” Francesconi said.

            The lesson learned there is reinforced by the relatively new relationship w


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LabTalk Spotlight

What Labs Should Know About Social Media

By Dr. Justin Bazan

Running an optical lab is challenging. The list of these challenges seems to grow daily. I’m going to add Social Media (SM) to that list, but continue reading to learn why it’s an important one to add. You will see that although it may be more work for you, it should prove to be a great opportunity to improve and build your business. SM will help you reach more business owners and optical influences. It often will reach them at exactly the time they need you and often for nothing more than an investment in time.

There are many opportunities, but let’s first focus on Facebook, which has an established record of success; in particular, the “ODs on Facebook” group. Although there are quite a few options for you to explore in SM I would recommend checking this group out first because it is widely popular amongst eye care provider (ECP) business owners; it’s open to all industry people; and it’s very active.

Here are some quick stats.   

  1. Averaging 105 new members a week;
  2. Average thread is 9 posts long;
  3. Longest thread is over 500 comments.
  4. Daily new threads from 15-40,
  5. Daily posts from 100-400.

Community manager and founder Alan Glazier, OD stated, “We are the largest, most active, most influential forum (more industry lurking, listening and learning) than anywhere else. As you know, it is inclusive of industry with the reason being that it gives us an advantage over the forums that are “OD only” and helps to bring the industry together in a respectful way without politics getting in the way.”

To take a look at the value that this group can provide to your lab view the entire article at:



Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Make What You Say, Pay!

What Vibe Do Clients Need?

We’ve all had the experience of really hitting it off with someone we meet for the first time. I was thinking about how that special vibe gets created with clients and prospects as well.   Like when you meet someone new, you can’t dictate that someone else will absolutely like you. However, when it comes to business, I suggest that there are behaviors and mindsets that you can manifest to create a likely positive vibe that will make you a buyer's number one choice.

Rate how well you do the following with prospects when you meet them: 1 = Not At All,  5 = Always

  • ___Demonstrate respect for their time and uniqueness.  (You come to the call knowing their industry and company )
  • ___Manifest a genuine interest in wanting to help them solve problems or realize a vision vs. making the quick sale.  (You approach them as a potential trusted advisor       vs. a vendor out for the quick sale.) 
  • ___Show empathy and respect for their views, concerns, and feelings. (You listen with the intent to understand, not to push an agenda.)
  • ___Bring fresh thinking to the conversation. (You are willing to explore options, rather than push specific products.)
  • ___Demonstrate integrity. (You will admit it if you are not the best fit for their needs and make suggestions as to what else they might do.)
  • ___Respect their need to share personal information--or not. . (You recognize and respond to different personal styles.)
  • ___Make it fun. (You allow natural humor into your conversation.)

How did you do?  Pat yourself on the back for the ratings that are 4 or 5. Work on the ratings that are 3 or below.

Good Vibes Lead to Good Business

In a world of similar products and services, the final decision for prospects often comes down to their feeling or vibe about you. There will always be that vibe. Do everything you can to make it a good one!

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

New Products

New Sport Lens from Zeiss

The ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus Sport is specifically designed for wrap frames. The Choice Plus Sport design combines advanced customization for the patient’s full prescription with proprietary ZEISS prism compensation.   This combination widens the area of clear vision by as much as 50 percent over standard lens designs in wrap frames, while dramatically reducing unwanted prism.   It is available in two corridor lengths, with minimum fitting heights of 13 and 17mm.   ZEISS Progressive Choice Plus Sport lenses are available in 1.50 Hard Resin, 1.53 Trivex and 1.59 polycarbonate, with polarized options in all materials.   It is also available with PhotoFusion by ZEISS and various NXT treatments, including fixed tints, mirror treatments and a polarized/photochromic combination.

Bifocal Freeform Lens from Shamir

Shamir Duo is an innovative new lens that offers surface continuity, eliminating the visible line associated with flat-top bifocals, while providing patients with improved optics. With Shamir Duo, a natural, distortion free path is maintained as the eye moves from one vision zone to another. Processed with Freeform equipment, the Shamir Duo lends itself to a variety of materials, tints and coatings and is available in a wide selection of indexes and treatments such as high-index, photochromic and polarized lenses.   For more information contact Shamir at 877-514-8330.

New Generator from Coburn

Coburn’s latest generator, the CobaltLTE, delivers wet cut quality results without the need for a water management system, and like the SL2, only requires approximately 20 sq/ft of lab space- inclusive of all ancillary equipment. The generator features Coburn’s proven mist-cut generating technology as well as air bearing, voice coil, and direct drive technology to increase cutting accuracy and lens through-put. And just like the SL2, this new generator will be built exclusively in America.  For more information contact Coburn at 1-800-COBURN-1.


Western Optical LIVE!

Western Optical’s growing brand of exclusive hand tools and dispensing accessories are so unique they need to be seen in action to be appreciated.   Now on the Western Optical Website customers can find over 50 video demonstrations of products and product lines by clicking on Western Optical LIVE! or the Product Demonstration links. To check out these video demonstrations, go to

Super Atoric Single Vision Free-Form Lenses in All Materials

SEIKO’s Super Atoric SVFF lenses are digitally surfaced single-vision lenses providing precision and superior optics unmatched by traditionally surfaced lenses.   The Super Atoric SVFF design minimizes optical aberrations in the as worn position and is optimized in both the spherical and cylindrical power. They are available in all of the same materials and coatings as SEIKO’s free form PALs including Transitions and polarized. For more information contact Seiko at 800-235-5367 or visit their Website at

Signet Armorlite Announces KODAK Unique HD Progressive Lenses

The new KODAK Unique HD Progressive Lens from Signet Armorlite offers all of the features of KODAK Unique Lenses as well as an added level of individual patient customization. The ‘High-Definition’ (HD) in KODAK Unique HD Progressive Lenses uses point-of-wear measurements that allow the prescription to be highly-customized to the patient’s unique visual needs, resulting in an enhanced wearing experience.

To customize the prescription, KODAK Unique HD Lens requires four additional measurements: pantoscopic angle, wrap angle, back vertex distance and reading distance. Eyecare practices can capture these measurements using the KODAK Lens IDS (Intelligent Dispensing Software). Default measurements are also available. For more information visit the Signet Armorlite Website at


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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