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A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- February 2016 -

Dollars & Sense

Make What You Say Pay

Lab Notes

New Products


Dollars & Sense

A Three-Step Strategy to Differentiate Your Business

Michael Karlsrud

In last months, Dollars and Sense I challenged you to do something dramatic and different in your business this year.  I highlighted the alignment and alliances that doctors, health organizations, corporate laboratories, and manufacturers are making to capture control of the market. 

The truly independent doctor and laboratory are becoming fewer each year. 

I want to offer a three-step strategy for you to consider implementing this year that will differentiate your business.

The first step is to look at your customer base and realize that you cannot treat them all the same.  Customers that spend multiple thousands per month with you should be offered deals, promotions and loyalty programs for giving you business.  Those that give you an occasional job should be evaluated as to how much time and effort you will continue to invest in their relationship.

Second, identify a unique segment of the consumer market you want to address.  You read that right, consumer. Perhaps you live in a ski area, boating or fishing, golfing or hunting parts of the United States.  Becoming the expert and serving the needs of a specific group will reap big dividends.  Don’t become all things to all people; just do something that will you noticed and force people to make a remark about your business.  Become “remarkable” – worthy of making a remark.

And third, focus on that one segment of the market and hit it hard. Overwhelm it with your ability and dedication to do remarkable things.  Create a name for yourself that is above and beyond your current lab reputation.  Make sure you are noticed for your expertise and your ability to meet the needs of a small and unique segment of the market.  Develop a niche, exploit it and above all, tell everyone you meet of your niche. 

Break out of the herd of traditional laboratory businesses.  Become unique, remarkable and different than your competition. It’s an exciting time in our industry for those who embrace change and take on new challenges. 

Being different makes good Dollars and Sense.

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




Make What You Say, Pay!

Beware the Success Mirage

Ann Miller

"Nothing Succeeds LIke Success." How many times have you heard this in business and, yet is this really true?  Successs is good. Success is what we strive for. Right? Yes, but there is a risk that comes with success.  As we all begin the new year it is good to recall what Bill Gates, no small success himself, said about the danger of success.  “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” (Lehman Bros.and The Nook are two examples that jump to mind.)

The questions to ask for your business, however, are:

• How seduced have you become by your success?

• What accounts might you be taking for granted?

• What business systems and models have become sacred cows for you that should be revisited and updated or revised? 

• What language are you using in meetings, presentations , and demos with prospects and clients that need to be strengthened to connect, build trust, and close business?

Can you answer in the affirmative for each of the following?

• Are you following a sales process that matches how buyers buy today, not how they bought yesterday?

• Do you engage in client centered ROI conversations or get lost in old feature/benefit laundry lists?

• Do you communicate value in current partnering language or present in past pitch speak?  

Given uncertain times, intense competition, and increased buyer sophistication, what succeeded for you in the past is unlikely to sustain you in the future. The winners in business for tomorrow will be those who ruthlessly re-examine their assumptions about how they are doing business, what clients want, how they are set up to deliver on those expectations, and, last but not least, how they frame the conversations they have with, and the presentations they give to, prospects and clients.

An old, but apt quote that captures the challenges for the start of a new year is: "Even if you are on the right track, if you just sit there, you are going to get hit."  (Will Rogers, Satirist) Get moving!

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




Lab Notes

Hoya’s Intercompany Manufacturing Center Now Fully Operational


Hoya’s 100,000 square foot Intercompany Manufacturing Center (IMC) in Lewisville, Texas, is now fully operational, running 24/7, 365 days a year.  The IMC lab employs approximately 100 individuals operating the three shifts of continuous production. Says Barney Dougher, Hoya Vision Care North American president, “The reason for the investment is really very simple and boils down to the fact that we believe in the U.S. independent eye care market and have an unwavering degree of confidence that this sector will continue to thrive.”

Icare Labs Named Essilor Lab of the Year


Essilor of America announced the winners of its Independent Distribution Division (IDD) Annual Laboratory Awards including IDD Lab of the Year, which went to Icare Labs. The awards recognize independent distributors, who have exceeded expectations and achieved top sales performance in both sales and unit growth within specific Essilor product categories.

Essilor Transitions Award of Excellence
Superior Optical Lab

Essilor Xperio UVTM Award of Excellence
Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd.

Crizal Award of Excellence
US Optical

Varilux Award of Excellence
Cherry Optical, Inc.

X-Cel Outstanding Achievement Award
US Optical

Essilor IDD Managed Care Lab of the Year
VSPOne Optical Technology Centers

Essilor IDD Lab of the Year

My Friend’s Lab


When ECP friends of Ryan Markey asked him to open a lab he said, why not. My Friend’s Lab in Farmers Branch, Texas, serves Markey’s “friends” and ECPs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The 1300 square foot facility is processing conventional lenses and edging; outsourcing digital processing.  A “lab rat” since the age of six, Markey loves being in the lab and considers his staff family. “The people we do business with are our friends,” explained Markey. “We have a librial return and remake policy. We don’t have a price list. We simply meet the prices the Doctor is used to paying.  I just want to help them get what they need for their patients.”

U.S. Optical Adds Two More Freeform Lines and a Bisphera Edger


U.S. Optical is prepared for growth in 2016 with an additional capacity of 650 jobs per day for a total of 3000 jobs per day.  “We have just made a two million dollar investment to increase our production capacity, said Ronald Cotran,  co-owner of U.S. Optical.  With the addition of two freeform generators: one from Satisloh (VFT ORBIT) and one from Schneider (MODULO XT).  U.S. Optical also added a robotic edger, the Bisphera TBA from MEI, which includes robotic blocking and checking of lenses. With these additions U.S. optical has seven freeform lines and three Bisphera edgers .  “Our new state-of-the-art equipment will both increase our production capabilities and enhance our excellent quality and make us even faster, “ said Robert Cotran, president of U.S. Optical.




New Products

Essilor Unveils Eye Protect System

To address the growing need for protection against increasing exposure to blue light and UV, Essilor is introducing Eye Protect System, a lens innovation making eye protection more accessible to everyone. This includes the launch of Smart Blue Filter, which provides embedded protection against harmful blue-violet light while allowing the beneficial blue-violet light to pass through on an aesthetically clear lens. This product innovation signifies a major advancement because most blue light and UV protection products available are a coating applied to the lens surface that has an obvious color. For more information visit

Transitions Lenses now Available in TREXA

For most Essilor designs, Transitions lenses will now be available in TREXA, a new Trivex-based material that is thinner, lighter and stronger than standard plastic. Transitions XTRActive lenses in TREXA material are now available in gray, brown, and graphite green while Transition Signature VII lenses in TREXA material are now available in brown and graphite green, in addition to gray. TREXA lenses outperform standard plastic lenses to deliver patients enhanced visual benefits and are available in a wide variety of premium designs. For more information visit

Understanding the New ANSI Recommendations

With the recent release by ANSI ASC Z80 of ANSI Z80.1-2015, Prescription Ophthalmic Lenses – Recommendations, The Vision Council has developed a Points of Interest Guide for Vision Council members, providing an update about the standard and the changes of particular interest to members. An additional Quick Reference Guide is also available. Find out more about The Vision Council’s industry standards and communications activities. If you have any questions, please contact Michael Vitale, Technical Director & Lens Division Liaison at 703-548-2684 or [email protected].





Welcome to the New Normal...Digital Surfacing and Lenses

Julie Bos

 “The only thing constant in life is change.” We’ve all heard this quote before; and nowhere is it more true than in the dynamic world of digital surfacing and lenses.

Read any industry updates and you’ll quickly learn why. Advancements in equipment speed and capabilities, plus the ability personalize lenses to age groups and lifestyles, are all keeping the industry on its toes. And labs that don’t keep up can be quickly left behind. The most successful labs will be those that can expertly adapt to “the new normal” while also maintaining excellent levels of customer service.

To take a deeper dive into what’s happening in the world of digital surfacing and lenses, we turned to several leading lens and digital equipment providers, who shared the latest solutions shaping today’s digital landscape.

Find out what’s new in digital lenses and equipment by reading the entire article at


Christie Walker, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Christie is the Editor of LabTalk and a contributor to Vision Monday. She covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Christie at [email protected].

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