A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- August 2017 -

Dollars & Sense

Make What You Say Pay

Lab Notes

New Products


Dollars & Sense

The Cost of Poor Performance

Evan Hackel

Many people have heard this story, which has become a legend in the training industry…

A CEO and department head were having a brief conversation after their monthly strategy meeting, where the main focus was on employee training. The CEO said, “What if we spend all this money training our staff and they leave us?” And the department head replied, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

A simple but pointed response. If you spend a lot of money on people and they leave, that’s not an optimal outcome. But if you don’t train your employees and they stay, it costs you a lot more.

A franchise group, comprised of more than 2,000 stores, experienced this training quandary first-hand. The head of sales had a simplified approach to hiring. He simply hired salespeople who had worked at other stores that sold the same kind of products that were sold at his stores. His assumption was that the experienced salespeople he hired were “pretrained” and that hiring them would save a lot of time and expense. Plus, there would be no need to acquire the tools and systems that were needed to implement a training system.

His decision to hire experienced salespeople made sense, but it was flawed. The fact that those salespeople had experience didn’t mean that they came armed with the best selling skills or factual product knowledge. But after a few years of using his “hire the experienced” approach, he saw that he wasn’t achieving the kind of results he wanted. He sensed that the size of each average transaction on the selling floor was too small. Buyers were not becoming repeat customers. Plus, his stores were receiving negative comments online about the quality of their customer service.

Because he could see that the skills of his salespeople needed improvement, he took the plunge and brought in an experienced training development firm that developed a program of e-learning for salespeople that trained them to increase the size of the average ticket size, to improve their closing percentages, and to provide better customer service.

The performance of the salespeople his company trained was dramatically better than the performance of experienced sales people he simply hired. Plus, he soon realized that training was giving him another benefit; because he could hire high-energy, high-potential employees—not only those with experience—he was building a much stronger and enthusiastic salesforce.

After a year, the average annual sales made by company-trained salespeople had in many cases outperformed seasoned professional hires by $200,000 or more. When he factored in sales and contribution margin improvement, the people trained in-house produced about $80,000 a year more in profit. With an average five-year tenure for each employee, the training was worth $400,000 more in profit dollars.

That is another way of saying that the cost of not training each salesperson amounted to $80,000 a year for that company. So what really happens if you don’t train people and they stay? It means that you’re going to be losing a lot of money.

Why do trained salespeople produce more income?

There are many reasons. Trained salespeople...

• Close more sales
• Generate larger average sales
• Sell fewer products at discounted prices, and more products at list price
• Make fewer mistakes
• Sell the right products, reducing the cost of returns and product replacements
• Build customer relationships that result in more repeat business
• Generate more positive reviews online
• Increase your net promoter scores
• Help keep morale and productivity high among all your employees, because people don’t like to work with untrained people who don’t know what they are doing

What is having poorly trained salespeople it costing you? Not training people costs money... a lot of money.

Training is not just for salespeople

Training has a major impact on customer service practices across a variety of industries. Consider the often headache-inducing business of at-home product installation—one that would certainly benefit from customer service-focused training. The basics, such as explaining to customers the details of the installation process, an emphasis on crystal clear communication prior to the start of the job, and of course, conveying the importance of punctuality can boost customer retention. Training staff to be cognizant of their customer service practices can also increase referral business, which can be worth extra hundreds, thousands, or even millions to your bottom line.

Every untrained employee costs you money

ROI on training is dramatically greater than most company executives believe it will be. In simple terms, if a trained worker becomes 100% productive and an untrained worker is only 60% productive, you are losing $40,000 in value on every $100,000 of business you conduct.

In closing…

Not training is hugely expensive—far more expensive than training. In your company, you should look for all the opportunities where proper training can dramatically increase profits, reduce waste and provide an outsized ROI for every training dollar you spend. If you start to look, it’s nearly guaranteed that you will find many more opportunities than you expect.

About Evan Hackel

Evan Hackel is CEO of Tortal Training, a firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors. Evan created the concept of Ingaged Leadership and is Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts. To learn more about Ingage Consulting and Evan’s book Ingaging Leadership, visit

Illustration courtesy of BSGStudios and



Lab Notes

Vision Council Lab Division Announces Directors’ Choice Award Recipient and 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Press Release

The Lab Division of The Vision Council has announced the industry veterans who will be recognized during the Directors’ Choice Award and 18th Annual Lab Division Hall of Fame celebration on September 13th in conjunction with the Lab Division Meeting and International Vision Expo West.

The Division has named Marty Bassett, President and CEO of Walman Optical Company, as the 2017 recipient of the Directors’ Choice Award. Established in 1987 under the Optical Laboratories Association, now the Lab Division of The Vision Council, this award honors individuals and companies that have made outstanding contributions to the ophthalmic industry. Now in its 31st year, the award is still recognized as one of the most prestigious in the industry.

“Marty’s achievements go well beyond his role as CEO of Walman,” said Drake McLean, Lab Division Chair. “His passion for giving back to the industry led him to be the first Chairman of The Vision Council to come from the Lab Division. In addition to his professional and industry efforts, Marty gives back through service on the Board of Children’s Healthcare, and was inducted into the Lab Division Hall of Fame in 2012. He represents all of the qualities we hope to see in recipients of the Directors’ Choice Award, and we are honored to have him as the 2017 recipient.”

Bassett will be recognized alongside this year’s Lab Division Hall of Fame inductees at the Hall of Fame banquet, held during The Vision Council's Lab Division meeting at International Vision Expo West. This year’s Lab Division Hall of Fame inductees will be: 

  • John Art, Interstate Optical 
  • Lorinda Fraboni, Walman Optical 
  • James Goerges, Precision Tool Technologies, Inc. 
  • William H. Heffner, III, FEA Industries, Inc. 
  • Lawrence Lahr, Eye-Kraft Optical, Inc. 
  • Mark Mattison-Shupnick, Sola, Jobson, MMS Consulting 
  • Drake McLean, Dietz-McLean Optical 
  • Joe Vitale, Essilor of America, Inc. 

Nominations for candidates for the Hall of Fame are submitted by members of The Vision Council. The selection of the individuals for the Lab Division Hall of Fame is made by an anonymous committee of industry veterans. Consideration is given for contributions to the optical laboratory industry, Lab Division of The Vision Council, the candidate’s individual accomplishments, personal character, reputation, and length of time active in the industry.

“The rich history of the optical industry is celebrated through the annual induction of individuals into the Lab Division Hall of Fame,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “Individuals selected for membership to the Hall of Fame are those who have influenced or contributed to the advancement of the optical laboratory industry, and on behalf of The Vision Council, it is my sincere pleasure to honor the 2017 inductees who have had a direct hand in helping to move our industry forward.”

Vision Expo West Announces New Partnership with Google

Press Release

International Vision Expo West has announced exclusive events for eyecare providers featuring a series of digital marketing talks from Google Campaign Strategist Brandon Lawlor and Premier Partner Marketing4ECPs. The free 20-minute sessions—which will take place Thursday through Saturday, September 14–16, in a dedicated Google Partners Lounge on the show floor—deliver eyecare providers the knowledge of how to best utilize Google digital products to grow their eyecare business.

Thursday will also feature a Google Partners Connect Event, where VIPs will hear first-hand how to capitalize on the digital opportunity that lies ahead in the eye care industry. Attendees can visit Booth LP10113 Thursday before 4 p.m. for tickets.

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, said Melissa Ashley, Senior Vice President of Reed Exhibitions. “After a successful partnership at Vision Expo East, we’ve brought back these attendee-favorite sessions and tailored the topics to ensure our attendees receive the latest, best practices needed for their business to succeed. Our speakers work specifically with Google Partner agencies to help them accelerate growth and stay up to date on current market strategies and best Google practices, ensuring that attendees will learn from the experts and leave with the knowledge necessary to create a strong online presence with search engine marketing techniques that will enable them to compete on every channel available in the digital space.”

Courses will include:

  • The Digital Opportunity for Your Eyecare Business
  • Search Marketing & The Five Tips You Can’t Live Without
  • Brand Your Eyecare Business Through Digital Display Campaigns
  • The Unfair Advantage of YouTube
  • Patients ON the Go – The Mobile Opportunity
  • Re-Engage Your Patients/Customers with Re-Marketing

All sessions will be held in the Google Partners Lounge (LP10113), sponsored by Essilor with media partners PentaVision and Optical Prism.

This year’s event, taking place at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV (Education: Sept. 13–16; Exhibition: Sept 14–16), will bring together an expansive showcase of designer eyewear fashions, the latest in medical innovation, and education taught by prestigious lecturers on the hottest industry topics – all in one place.

To register for Vision Expo West, visit, and follow Vision Expo on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Brian Dunleavy, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Brian is the Editor of LabTalk. He covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Brian at [email protected].

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