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Dollars & Sense

It's Budget Time

It’s budget season.  Not a time of year that many of us look forward to as it requires long hours, many revisions and a ton of give and take between departments.  This year, while you are pouring over data, add in some new points to consider for the New Year.

Search for data points that tell you stories about your customer base.  Go deeper than Dr. XYZ bought twelve pair of XXX.  Here is a quick list of questions worthy of a deep data dive:

  1. Who are the top 20 percent of my accounts driving 80 percent of my revenue?
  2. How often to do they purchase?  Does that ebb and flow over the year?
  3. What is the return rate of the top 20 percent?
  4. What do they return?  Why?
  5. What percentage of the business do you have?
  6. What part of the business do you have?  Premium? Commodity? Both?
  7. Demographic of top 20 percent; size, stature, ROI, proximity.
  8. Is there a likelihood this business is in jeopardy? Threatened?

If you look at the data in its total, a picture will emerge that can and should drive your business in the future.  Common themes that will emerge are: product return rates, customer rate of returns, customer’s comfort level in your products, and it will also tell you what they are not comfortable in buying from you. What comes from all this analysis? 

First and foremost clarity for your sales and marketing team: who are we and why do people buy from us?  Second, you will uncover opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competition because you can predict issues before they show up as problems.  Finally, by understanding your customer you better understand yourself.  Know who you attract and who is attracted by you.  Once that is understood the whole company can focus on the future, and budgets.

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


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Lab Notes

Ocuco Acquires CC Systems

Ocuco, the provider of the Innovations Lab Management System (LMS) has acquired Florida- and Toronto-based CC Systems, which provides the Labzilla LMS. Ocuco’s lab software will now support approximately 2,750 labs in 50 countries. CC System’s Labzilla and Ocuco’s Innovations businesses will be merged into Ocuco’s lab division under the business leadership of Stephen Cohen and the technical leadership of Robert Shanbaum. Both Innovations and Labzilla integrate with all major freeform LDSs including IOT, Innovations Digital, Seiko, Shamir, Signet, Essilor, Thin Tech, Optovision, Carl Zeiss Vision, Crossbows, VSP, Scopus and Hoya.

Robert Shanbaum said “Besides a much larger support team, one benefit of the acquisition for our customers will be that it will help us accelerate development of Ocuco-CC Systems’ next generation LMS, which will reflect the expertise of both companies.”

New Lab Opens Near Baltimore, MD

HOYA Vision Care opened their newest laboratory in Linthicum, Maryland, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception for current and prospective customers. The new lab is located at 514 Progress Drive in Linthicum, MD, and territory managers Tammy Maxey and Janelle Trowbridge will be the primary local representatives for the new lab.

In addition to local territory managers, operations at the new facility will be headed by laboratory manager Tim Shields. Stated Shields, “I’m looking forward to using my experience to help our laboratory grow HOYA’s presence around Baltimore and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic Region by focusing on quality and service with the best lens technology available.” 

HOYA Relocating Distribution Center from California to Texas

HOYA Lens of America will relocate their distribution center to the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. With the lease for the current warehouse in Torrance, California expiring on December 31st, 2014, the timing was right to move the facility to a more central location and closer to the HOYA U.S. headquarters.  The new location in Grapevine, Texas is located adjacent to the DFW airport and approximately five miles from HOYA's U.S. headquarters.

Essilor Acquires and Merges QC Optical with Opti-Craft

Essilor recently acquired QC Optical, a wholesale optical laboratory with branches in Portland, Ore. and Spokane, Wash. Essilor plans to close these two branches and merge QC Optical into Opti-Craft, an Essilor lab in Portland. “The merger of the QC Optical business into Opti-Craft will allow QC Optical's customers to enjoy technology and products that were not available at the QC Optical labs,” an Essilor spokesperson told LabAdvisor. The former owners of QC Optical, Jim McAndrew and Bruce Hengel, will transition over to Opti-Craft. McAndrew and Hengel, who are both industry veterans, bought QC Optical from Tom Mitchoff in September, 2004.


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Focus On...

Insights from Robert Sobotor

By Judith Lee

Insights asks your customers what they want from their optical labs. Each month, we ask questions you might like to ask, and bring you the answers from ECP’s, optical dispensers, retailers and practice managers. While the individuals aren’t talking specifically about you and your lab, you might ask yourself, “Does my lab do this or does my lab offer that?” Read up to gather Insights into the way your customers think and then make changes and adjustments to make sure your lab is the best it can be.

The optician answering our question this month is Robert Sobotor, a licensed optician practicing in the greater Atlanta area. In his 20-year career Mr. Sobotor has dispensed for corporate retailers as well as independent Eye Care Professionals.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to ordering from a lab? 

A. It used to be that when I ordered a lens in a stock range I was sent a stock lens. If the powers were a little high along a given axis for a given frame or there was an issue of blank size the lab might suggest that a lens be surfaced but it was still my call. Then it got to the point that I had to stipulate and document that I had requested a stock lens because the lab would surface as a default and then I had to begin to go through my statements every month item by item to confirm I received what I requested. Now the labs have taken it a step further and tell ME that it is “in the best interest of the patient” to do x, y, and z, and that is why they do it. Excuse me but who is licensed? Who has spent time with the patient? Who is in the BEST position to determine “what is in the patients’ best interest?” 

Labs, let’s call them the large regional labs, have become so money-driven that they cannot see that their condescension is so obvious. They “train” their order takers to be “advisers” LOL. Let’s call it what it is, they are trying to teach people who know nothing about optics to upsell profitable services to benefit the labs bottom line. It has NOTHING to do with the best interests of the patient or the account. This dovetails directly into the proprietary progressive designs that they peddle now and the poor quality “almost AR” coatings they offer. 

The corporate giant labs, with their consolidation of all the local and regional family-owned labs, have now lost what made those labs so attractive to buy in the first place… their personal relationships with accounts, profession-centric philosophy and account loyalty. This has been replaced with a commoditized relationship. Twenty years ago you had ONE lab, usually owned and operated by one man that did all your work because he personally took responsibility for the products and services he provided not just because HIS name was on it but because the bottom line for him was the result not the goal. With modern corporations the reverse is true. 

Loyalty to big labs is not deserved as they are not capable of earning it. As a result most retailers have multiple lab accounts and buy only the loss leaders from each. The labs are scratching their heads as to why. Is it possible to be any more clueless as to why this paradigm has its own set of unique problems?


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

LabTalk Spotlight

Are You Offering "Happy Meals?”

By Julie Bos

Video game companies do it, fast-food restaurants, too. Plenty of companies offer product bundles in one form or another. That’s because sales can soar when consumers can buy multiple products bundled together in one package at a bargain price…aka the “Happy Meal.”

And what’s not to like? At McDonalds, people appreciate deals where they can purchase burgers, fries and drinks cheaper in a bundle (called an Extra Value Meal), for cheaper than the items would cost if purchased individually.

Product bundles are common in other business-to-consumer markets, too. Think phone-internet-cable combos, all-inclusive vacation packages and even Microsoft software bundles that combine Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote programs together in one package for more simplicity (and lower pricing).

The same thinking applies to product bundles in the optical market, often involving frames, lenses, coatings, children’s lenses,  sunwear and other accessories, all for one low price. It just makes sense, especially when selling products, add-ons and accessories that customers would not normally buy outside the bundle. This strategy can increase the total profit gained from each customer even if the profit margin on each item sold in the bundle is lower than if they had been sold separately.

 It’s a win-win. Customers get more of what they need or want (for less money) and labs enjoy higher sales and profits, while moving more inventory and preventing customers from purchasing those same items elsewhere at a later date (or in many cases, not at all).

To find out how labs are using product bundling to increase their sales read the entire article at


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Make What You Say, Pay!

Avoid "Hairy Arms" Presentation

When what your buyer sees works against what he is hearing, red flags go up. He thinks, "Can I trust this person?" "What’s wrong here?" "Is this the sort of person I would be comfortable working with?"  Imagine clicking on a video from a presentation “expert” and a spikey-haired man appears wearing a black sweatshirt with rolled-up sleeves which reveal his extremely hairy forearms. That happened to me yesterday and, while this guru's content was respectable, it was impossible to take him seriously because of his appearance and those hairy arms waving as he spoke.   It is hard to believe that anyone in a major corporation would feel comfortable bringing him into the company--particularly for presentation skills training!

Dress Check, Please
At Conde Nast, home of fashion and luxury magazines like Vogue, my colleagues and I always joke that when you walk through the halls,  “It is about the shoes: Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, etc.” When you sell there, you need to look reasonably in style to establish initial credibility.  On Wall Street, it’s about looking expensive. In the digital world, yes, people are casual—but, if you look at digital world executives, you'll see that they dress with some style, usually a jacket for the men and a dress (Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook) or other attractive outfits for women.

Don't let your dress distract from the very cool products and services you sell. Your buyer's left brain may say, "Yes, what you are selling makes sense," but what your buyer's right brain is seeing says, "Uh-oh, is this the person I really want to work with?!"   No one wins business all the time, but it’s a shame to  lose business because of any  thoughtless “hairy arms.”

 Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay! ©2014 Anne Miller, author, “metaphorically Selling”

New Products

Shamir X3 Focuses on Fashion

A new fashion-focused sun system, known as Shamir X3, will enable ECPs to offer a complete solution to patients that includes Rx lenses, proprietary mirrors, lens engravings and more.  Shamir’s newest offering not only centers around providing the best solution optically, but the core message will focus primarily on the “fashionable experience” the patient will have.  To facilitate the new X3 package offering, Shamir introduces a state-of-the-art Edging lab in Los Angeles, CA. This cutting-edge facility provides the specialized services necessary to further enhance the quality, cosmetics and optics of Shamir X3 orders. For more information contact Shamir’s Customer Service department at 877.514.8330.

Noise Eliminated with Tray-Express Modular Transportation

“It’s not just quiet, it’s almost silent,” says Chuck McGregor, director of Product Sales, NCC Automated Systems, about their new Tray Express modular transportation system. “Customers have found Tray Express saving them money and valuable floor space too.”

The Tray Express System relieves noise by using a smooth belt conveyor at the accumulation points and flexible chain at the curves. Most systems can be retrofitted with the pallet style of conveyor and keep the same chain conveyor depending on the age of the conveyor. Tray Express is pre-engineered and pre-assembled, which reduces complexity with easy installation and support. This offers a plug and play system for quick production startup.  For more information about NCC Automated Systems contact – Chris Round, director of marketing  at [email protected] or by phone at 513-550-2820.

New Chillmate Outdoor Series

Universal Photonics’ (UPI) new Chillmate Outdoor Series moves the chiller equipment outside of the lab, taking the heat with it while freeing up valuable floor space inside the lab.  Ambient room temperature can be controlled with less effort and at a much lower cost by moving the chilling process outside. While the chillers are anchored outdoors, the Chillmate Control Center is conveniently accessible within the lab. The Outdoor Series is an extension of UPI’s patented Chillmate line and as such has been engineered to maintain constant cool temperatures, eliminating unwanted fluctuations in temperature and reducing lens defects. For more information visit their Website at or call (516) 935-4000.

Small Batch AR, Big Impact

Vision-Ease’s MyCoat is a vacuum sputter coater that dispenses anti-reflective and mirror coatings within its compact dimensions, 28 inches wide by 32 inches deep by 68 inches high. The machine can coat six lenses at a time, with a cycle time of 15 minutes. In one hour, up to six pairs of lenses can be fully coated front and back. MyCoat’s anti-reflective and mirror coating formulas are compatible with all Vision-Ease Lens products, as well as those from alternate suppliers. Anti-reflective coatings include a standard option and Vision-Ease Lens’ premium five-layer, super-hydrophobic Vivid AR. Mirror coatings offered include silver, gold, blue or ruby, in full or flash finishes. Formulas are pre-installed on each machine for easy operation. Vision-Ease Lens offers extensive training and support with its MyCoat machine for worry-free operation. For more information, visit


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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