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Dollars & Sense

Do Something Bold!

With every New Year comes a new batch of promises to do things differently, act differently or better our bodies, souls and position.  What about your business?

I am challenged- frankly I am concerned beyond measure about the independent laboratories in America.  And I’m not alone.  Familiar names and experts in the optical industry that have been around for decades join my depth of concern.

The optical industry has changed more in the last 10 years then it has in the previous 200.  Some of the change has been obvious and embraced by laboratories—new equipment to accommodate free-form and digital capabilities, and new AR coaters to provide the best coatings we have ever put on lenses. This is just the obvious change that has hit our industry.  That’s the easy part.

The real concern in 2015 and beyond is how the industry is being changed and challenged by a consumer who is demanding a new way to engage with us and buy our products and services.  It used to be an industry of scarcity.  Meaning, you had one or two doctors in a city that took care of everyone.  Today, you can get an eye exam nearly on every corner and in places we would have never predicted. 

Chances are you are not getting any of that business.  Your business is still coming from a time of scarcity and tradition.  That is not the business of optical in the future.

The concern I have for labs is this: over the last few years companies, associations and groups have all hosted great programs and have published wonderful works that can help independent labs navigate through these waters with little or no response. If you don’t like change, you’ll hate being left behind.

In 2015, why not do something bold.  Do something that gives your company an edge.  Do something that is out-of-the-box thinking to address where your customers are accessing our industry.  Don’t rely on what we have been doing for 200 years because your consumer has changed.  We need to change with them.

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

Get Creative

Santinelli International is bringing back its “Think Outside the Box Edge” Rimless Eyewear Contest for 2015. Santinelli ME clients are encouraged to create and submit a pair of their own rimless eyewear designs using their edger’s innovative Design Cut technology. Winning entries will be displayed at the Santinelli booth at Vision Expo East in March as well as on the company’s website and Facebook page.

In addition to having bragging rights and their eyewear on display, first, second and third prize winners will receive $500, $250 and $100, respectively, toward any purchase within Santinelli International’s ever-expanding product line. For contest details and how to enter, visit: For more information, please call Michele Candiano at 631.731.1307.

Vision Council Releases Digital Eye Strain Report

The Vision Council is ramping up its efforts to educate consumers and members of the press about the impact of digital device use on vision health with the release of their 2015 Digital Eye Strain report at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The report, Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect Your Eyes from Digital Devices, reveals that nearly 95 percent of Americans spend two or more hours every day on digital devices, permeating all aspects of our personal lives. The report found that the majority of Americans experience Digital Eye Strain as a result - an issue that is compounded by a severe lack of awareness about how the use of these devices affect our eyes and vision health.
To view or download a copy of Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect Your Eyes from Digital Devices, visit

Beitler-McKee Optical to be Part of Historical Site

With the nomination of the former Duquesne Brewery complex to the National Register of Historic Places, the Beitler-McKee Optical building will become part of the National Register of Historic Places. The lab is located at 160 S. 22nd Street, Pittsburgh, PA in the former offices of the Duquesne Brewing company built in 1948. Beitler McKee is an Essilor Partner Lab and one of the few full-service (RGP contact lens manufacturing, soft contact lens, equipment and instrument sales and repair, frame, stock lens) labs left in the country. Beitler McKee processes digital and AR lenses in house. Beitler McKee has several generations of families who have worked at the lab with a focus to provide the best quality visual solutions and service. For more information about the lab, go to

Plastic Plus New Distributor for Rodenstock Lenses in Canada

Plastic Plus Ltd., a leading Canadian optical lab and lens supplier, will be the  exclusive production and distribution partner of the German based Rodenstock Group and will serve the Canadian market through a central production lab in Toronto.

Plastic Plus is Canada’s largest independent lens manufacturer. With one of the most highly advanced labs in the industry and the most state-of-the-art technology, the family-run business sets high quality standards for its lenses. “We are very pleased to partner with Rodenstock, a company which is renowned for its unique family of products and brands,” Paul Faibish, CEO of Plastic Plus, commented. “Our local production clients will benefit from a wider product choice, individual service options and even shorter delivery times in the future.”

All existing Rodenstock business partners in Canada have been officially informed over the past days and can expect a smooth transition, according to Rodenstock.


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

LabTalk Spotlight

Closing the Digital Divide

You’d never call it a canyon or even a chasm, but a more of a rift that’s keeping one side from the other. Optical labs are on one side of the divide, investing in digital surfacing equipment, technology and processes, developing free-form lens products, competing for business—a near free-for-all of new and better lenses and lens manufacturing.

On the other side, Eye Care Professionals (ECPs) and their patients, interested, no doubt, and sampling the goodies—but some are still a little unsure about joining the party.  On the positive side, ECPs say they believe digital free-form lenses are better products and represent more and more of the lenses they order.

“I’m now up to 100 percent digital for progressive lenses,” said Albert Pang, OD of Plano, Texas. “I believe that digital lenses make it easier for patients to adapt to progressives, they also provide better overall performance.”

Just as labs are differentiating themselves with digital free-form products, ECPs are now showing patients they can provide a better pair of eyeglasses.

“We have found that by providing digitally surfaced lenses, our patients talk to their friends, stating how much better they can see through their lenses,” noted Amy Endo, master optician and practice administrator for Edwin Y. Endo, OD and Associates where digital lens sales have increased nearly threefold from about two years ago.

So what’s causing the digital divide? It may just be a matter of customer education.

“As a working optician, I would say we have not been educated enough about these products. Some lens makers have done more than others, but there is still a need for more practical information,” said John Seeger, optician and optician educator who operates

Overall, here’s what your ECP customers want you to know about how free-form/digital is affecting their business, and what you can do about it.

To find out what your ECP customers want you to know about how free-form/digital is affecting their business, read the entire article at


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Make What You Say, Pay!

The Silver Bullet of Silver Bullets

After nearly two weeks of being off the grid on holiday, I returned to my inbox to see what I missed. Lo and behold, aside from holiday greetings and some real business correspondence, there were a slew of newsletters and blogs shouting out various kinds of silver bullet advice. You know the topics: 10 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn! The Single Biggest Presentation Mistake Ever! How to Communicate Like Steve Jobs (Abraham Lincoln, Donald Duck – pick one), etc.  Maybe I’m jaded, but after twenty-five years of sales and presentation training and coaching, I would suggest all this great advice comes down to one bullet…

The People Factor - Technology and social media help you prepare more quickly and thoroughly for a call, conduct targeted drip marketing campaigns, track who opened your emails, and allow virtual meetings.  However, at some point you will actually have to talk to another human being (what a concept).  All the technology and social media are worthless, if that conversation fails.

Here are five evergreen, reliable guidelines for having that high pay-off discussion.

  • Your goal is to help buyers achieve their success.  It’s about them, not you (or your quota). Your sales number is how you keep score. Your sales success is about how your buyers keep score.
  • No one ever listened himself out of a sale.  What your prospect says is more important than all the glowing features you can show about your shiny new object, service, product or idea.  Spend time demonstrating you understand their business and ask meaningful questions.
  • Fit first. Difference second.  Show how you fit with your prospect’s situation, before you tell them how you are different. You are not seeking applause for your company. You are seeking acceptance for what your company can do for buyers.
  • Selling is a conversation, not a monologue.  The most boring date in the world is one where one side dominates the conversation. The same holds true in presenting and selling. Ask, listen, comment, empathize, and challenge where appropriate. Let your natural humor and personality come through.
  • Engage mind before mouth.  People are on information overload and short for time.  Prepare for your call. Have a direction to your conversation. Choose your words, your stories, and your metaphors very carefully.  You want your arguments to land with impact, not evaporate into the ether.

The tempo and technology involved in business have certainly changed, but the one thing that never changes is the people factor.  If there is a silver bullet to selling and presenting in 2015, that’s it. Here’s to a prosperous 2015 for all!

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

New Products

App Identifies Digital Eye Strain

ZEISS has developed a free downloadable app to help ECPs identify patients with symptoms of Digital Eye Strain, and support sales of the new ZEISS Digital Lens.  The app exists in two distinct versions; one is tablet-based and designed for use in the ECP practice, and the other is smartphone-based and can be downloaded directly by consumers. Each measures visual performance in the course of repeated changes of focus from near to distance, with an assessment provided at the end.  The consumer version gives the user the opportunity to learn more about ZEISS Digital Lens, and to find a ZEISS practice in his or her area.

The ECP app is available for download at  The consumer version is available from iTunes and Google Play; additional information can be found at

Sunglass Wraps 40 Percent Thinner

 “The most important headline is that we can now make the 6 and 8 base sunglass wraps 40 percent thinner,” said Ronald Cotran , co-owner and VP of US Optical. “Whether it’s a plus 4 or a minus 6 our new thin lens series are 40 percent thinner than any other sunglass technology. While higher minus RX lenses have a thick edge and higher plus lenses have a thicker center and nasal area, our new US Optical lenses and technology offer customers any fashionable sunglass frame with substantially thinner results. This is achieved by creating a dynamic engineered viewing zone and with advanced mathematical algorithms thinning the edges in a blended area creating thinner plus and minus lenses.”

US Optical’s proprietary lens technology THIN WRAP HD progressive and THIN SINGLE VISION WRAP HD is protected under US patent 8,002,404 and 8,449,111. For more information visit the Website at or call 315-463-4800.

Product Improvements from Shamir

Shamir expands Freeform material availability and base ranges to provide wider selection in their premium progressive lens line with an expansion of their current Single Vision material availability to include a comprehensive selection of treatments, including Single Vision SuperLite 1.74 Transitions Signature VII, Gray and Brown. They have also expanded the base range for Single Vision Polycarbonate Polarized 82mm to include 7.25. The new material comes in a wide variety of indexes and treatments to accommodate each patient’s prescription and lifestyle needs. Shamir Single Vision blanks are ideal for single vision use and are compatible with all Freeform designs. Shamir Single Vision 1.74 SuperLite Transitions Signature VII, Gray and Brown, is available to order now.  Shamir has optimized their Polycarbonate Polarized 82mm line of semi-finished Single Vision materials to ensure premier optics and as a result have also extended the base curve availability. Shamir’s Single Vision Polycarbonate Polarized 82mm design now includes a 7.25 base.  For more information regarding products or material availability, contact Shamir’s Customer Service department at 877.514.8330.


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Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor
[email protected]

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