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Dollars & Sense

Are You Trying to Fill a Leaking Bucket?

Have you ever tried to fill a tub with a bucket that has a hole in it?   It’s pretty easy to find yourself wore out, soaked and a tub that’s half full.

Businesses lose about five to seven percent of their customers to attrition per year.   A very high level test is to simply look at jobs per day for the same month one year ago.   If you did 100 jpd a year ago and are now doing 93, you have attrition.   Depending where those five to seven percent live in ranking of revenue to your company, it can be terminal for your business or just a speed bump.   However, if your goal was to grow 10 percent over last year, did you take into account a leaky bucket?   Put a finger in your leaky bucket.

Instead of putting your efforts into landing new accounts, shift your efforts to going deeper with accounts you already have.   It is the cheapest form of business development.   A two percent increase in the retention of your customers has the same impact as a 10 percent decrease in expenses.   A five percent increase in retention of your current customers will yield 125 percent more in profits.   How do we fix the bucket and plug the leaks?   Get out of the lab and call on your customers.   Stop providing products and services and start talking about solutions and innovative ideas that will make their lives easier.   Forget talking about price, quality and service because they mean nothing to a customer who expects you to have that anyway.   Talk to your customers and listen to their challenges, fears and goals. Establish you and your laboratory as the solution provider to meet their challenges.   Differentiate yourself from the pack by asking important value driven questions that help them see what perhaps they cannot see.   Build a relationship that will endure over time and goes deeper than just product.

The year is half over.   You have six months to make your numbers and goals.   Fix your bucket and get rid of your leaks by “sticking” to your customer. Good selling!

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

Lab Notes

Collard Rose Optical Lab

By Judith Lee

You certainly could call Robby Hernandez a native son of the optical business. Starting around age eight, Hernandez said he was raised in Collard Rose Optical Lab, Whittier, Calif.  

“I remember cutting my fingers while deblocking and washing up glass lenses. Those cuts would sting from the acetone that at that time was used to clean off the sprayable blocking tape.   I would say I've been in the lab about 37 years,” Hernandez said.

He noted that today as owners, Hernandez and his wife, Jennifer, participate on a daily basis in the most complex and what one would consider the most mundane tasks: “My role.....toilet paper restocker....counselor......motivator......joker.”

This does not mean that Collard Rose is mired in the past. The lab’s commitment to innovation resulted in in-house AR as many as 10 years ago, and just this past year, freeform digital surfacing.

“In today’s climate, we found it necessary to install freeform.   It has become what AR was ten years ago.   I believe that to have continued on the path without freeform was not sustainable,” Hernandez said.

The decision is already paying off. Collard Rose has already maxed out capacity of the machines they have, and will likely expand digital freeform in the near future. Another area of innovation has been in creating value packages for customers.

“Value proposition packages have become increasingly more necessary. We've created package pricing in the freeform product to include Transitions and AR, amongst other things, with the idea in mind to raise the average invoice price,” Hernandez said.

All of this happens without the added efficiencies of automation, as Collard Rose does not have the space needed to automate the lab. They compensate with their people, who are cross-trained and highly experienced.

“We have employees who are eager and willing to learn new processes and put that knowledge to use.   We rely on each person’s human intuition.   That being said, I was able to shift people from the traditional processes that they knew and place them in new and exciting positions in digital, as we did 10 years ago with AR,” Hernandez noted.

What’s ahead? Continued emphasis on those value packages, Hernandez said: “All flavors, one flat fee, as long as they order a non-glare coating.   We will as well be including BluTech lenses to all of these value-added packages.”

Website of the Year Nominations

It’s that time of year again, time to nominate your lab’s Website for the annual Website of the Year contest with LabTalk.   To nominate your lab’s site, simply email LabTalk editor Christie Walker the following information: Contact Name, Contact E-mail and Phone number, Website address. Send information to: [email protected] .   It’s just that easy.   ECPs are also being asked to nominate their favorite Website as well. This year, ECPs will simply be nominating. All labs will have the same chance of winning, regardless of the number of nominations.   Websites will be judged on the quality of the information on the site, the relevance of the information to the ECP, ease-of-use and design.  The top ten winners and Website of the Year will be announced at the Labapalooza party for labs held in Las Vegas on September 18th, 2014.

Optical Laboratory Veteran, Tom Bittles, Passed Away

Tom Bittles, a veteran optical laboratory executive, passed away on June 23 at age 67.   Bittles began his optical career while serving in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne in Korea.   In the 1960s, he worked for Bausch & Lomb, and later managed labs at Omega Optical, LensCrafters and Cole Vision. Most recently, he managed National Vision’s Lawrencevill, Ga. lab. Bittles is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Bittles; children Scott Bittles and Hailey Bittles; sisters Jean Syracusa and Carol Bittles; granddaughter Isabella Bittles. Funeral services were held on Saturday, June 28, 2014 in the Chapel of Tim Stewart Funeral Home, Lawrenceville, Ga., with the Bittles family receiving friends the Friday before.

Potential Changes to Proposition 65 in California

The Vision Council has been monitoring the fallout from California’s Prop 65 and advising its members as to the effects it can have on optical laboratories.   There have been ongoing discussions regarding a "pre-regulatory proposal" to change the Prop 65 regulations, with the goal being to reduce private citizen litigation and improve the warning labels. The current timetable for the state to issue a formal draft regulatory proposal for notice and comment would be early Summer 2014.

“Once we determine that the state has issued a formal proposal, we will alert all members of The Vision Council. Mr. Rick Van Arnam at Barnes Richardson, The Vision Council's retained legal firm, has drafted an update on the proposed changes, available to The Vision Council Members,” noted The Vision Council.

US Optical Invests in New Equipment

Ruslan Pashchuk, Crizal coating manager at US Optical, presents the lab’s new coating machine during the   announcement of numerous improvements and upgrades at   US Optical including in a new Satis LOH 1200-DLX AR coating machine, a VFT-Orbit lens generator, and various new lenses and technologies. The new AR coater will add an additional 750 Crizal AR and Digital AR jobs capacity per day, while the VFT-Orbit lens generator will produce an additional 350 Digital surfaced jobs per day. “To maintain our dominant position as the Fastest Lab in America, with our 24-48 hour turnaround on uncut lenses, this expansion in machinery, coatings and lens designs is necessary,” stated   Ralph Cotran, vice president and co-owner of US Optical.

LabTalk Spotlight


By Julie Bos

The prescription sunwear market has never been hotter—and the numbers prove it. According to Vision Watch, a study of U.S. consumers conducted by The Vision Council, Rx sunwear unit sales rose 6.3 percent from 2012 to 2013, while total industry retail dollars rose just 3.8 percent.   By comparison, frame units rose by 1.3 percent from 2012 to 2013 and lens pairs rose by 1.5 percent.

Several factors are driving this market’s growth. One is the debut of new innovations in materials, treatments and processing technologies that have dramatically increased the range of prescription lens options. Another is the growing awareness among consumers about the need to protect their eyes from glare, UV, HEV radiation and other ocular hazards. And let’s not discount heightened marketing by suppliers of popular Rx sun brands, which is making prescription sunwear seem cooler than ever before.

If your lab is like most, you want to dive deeper into this lucrative market and capture the growing revenue. Yet the key to higher sunwear sales is getting through to ECPs—something seemingly out of your control. Is it even possible to spur change at the ECP level? And if so, where do you begin?

To help get answers, we sought the input of several leading laboratories: FEA Industries (Morton, Penn.), iCoat Company (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.), Interstate Optical (Ontario, Ohio) and Superior Optical Lab (Ocean Springs, Miss.).

To find out what they had to say, read t he entire article at

Make What You Say, Pay!

It's All Story and Always Was

I don’t know about you, but I find it--what’s the best word here--? “quaint” that so many articles, books, and blogs write about the power of story to inspire employees, win customers, brand products and services, and close business. For heaven’s sake, story-telling has been around since cavemen days.   Aesop, Jesus, and Grimm were successfully using stories to communicate their messages centuries before today’s self-styled pundits who seem to have suddenly “discovered” the power of narrative to excite our right brains and move us to action.   The fact is, you tell business stories every day. The question isn’t, Do you appreciate the power of stories to get results? The question is, How effective are your stories?

What’s Your Story?
If you demo software or sell a service or product, you are telling a value story. If you present updates or research findings, you are telling a status story. If you are requesting resources, you are telling an investment justification story.   If you are advocating for procedural or operational changes, you are telling an increased productivity or cost savings story.

In all cases, your story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning is the current situation which has some need or problem in it, plus your message, and/or the expected results. The middle supports that message. The end summarizes your discussion and moves to a next step. Mixed in throughout are examples, stories, and metaphors that help listeners see what your information really means. Both types of content are necessary. The listener’s left brain needs facts and logic to justify his decision, and his right brain needs the visual and emotional satisfaction to feel good about that decision.

Add a dash of creativity and original visuals and the stories become even more engaging, meaningful,memorable and successful.

Once Upon a Time…
By all means, let’s acknowledge the power of story to engage and influence others. But let’s not treat it like a novel idea that has suddenly descended from the skies in 2014. For anyone who has been paying attention, important communications have always had a narrative arc. Incorporate that understanding into your presentations and you will be very effective as well.

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

New Products

Signet Armorlite’s PhotoViews Now in Polycarbonate

Signet Armorlite’s PhotoViews photochromic lenses—first launched in standard resin—are now available in polycarbonate.   With the addition of polycarbonate, PhotoViews can be used in drill mount frames as well. PhotoViews lenses are available in single vision and progressive lens designs, including a majority of KODAK Progressive Lenses.   For more information go to

LED-200 Improves Lab Environment

Santinelli International’s LED-200 removes odorous gases, is extremely user-friendly and features a built-in vacuum and automatic on/off operation with a delayed timer. The compact LED-200, through its easily-replaced charcoal activated filter, removes 90 percent of strong odors and is therefore well-suited for labs with poor or no ventilation. For more information visit the company’s Website:

Coolant Filtration System

The new Coolant Filtration System (CFS) from PSI, removes fine and abrasive lens particles from coolant for digital and conventional lens processing generating and edging, eliminating blocked jets and premature pump failure. These modular units are self-contained, keeping all the liquid inside the tank and not on the lab floor. PSI’CFS units are available in several models and sizes to meet any size lab’s needs. PSI will evaluate the lab’s needs and make recommendations based on volume and space. For more information, call 800-237-8154 or visit

New Deblocking Pliers

Designed specifically for Nidek pliable blocks, these new deblocking pliers from Santinelli International feature a cushioned, silicone grip with built-in finger “channels” on the handle for comfort and ease of use. The tool’s spring-loaded plier action provides fast and accurate removal of pliable blocks. These Italian-designed deblocking pliers are made of high-grade stainless steel with ergonomic silicone handles, which are color-coded for quick identification. For more information visit

Remove Display Lenses Quickly

Removing the display lenses from a frame, especially a rimlon eyewire, can be time consuming and frustrating. The new lens splitting plier from Western Optical Supply makes the process easy. With just one squeeze, the lens is busted, making the removal easy. To watch the Lens Splitting Plier (#5027F) in action, go to   and click on Western Optical LIVE! And find page 23.


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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