CONTINUING EDUCATION, 1 CE Credit � $9.99, 1 Hour, General Knowledge, Level 1, Release date: October 2007, Expiration date: October 31, 2012

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"They ALL look the Same to Me"

How many times do you have to hear this before you take a good hard look at your frame bars?

The frame selections on your frame boards are a mirror of your practice. They are the meat and potatoes of your business. They speak volumes on how you view your patients.

The first thing and perhaps the last thing that your patients see are your frame boards. They need to make as good a first impression and as strong a lasting impression as possible. 

Just as we've done with the reception area and your dispensing table, let's take a look at your frame boards.

  • Are they full? If not, you're a prime target for every shoplifter in town. They like nothing better than seeing "holes" in the inventory. After all, what's another hole or two�or three? You didn't seem to care about the ones that were already there, now did you? If you sell a frame from the board, replace it immediately with back stock. If the back stock is filled with the "dogs" you can't seem to move, use them anyway. You never know, someone may have been looking all over town for that one frame. Put some crazy tinted lenses in it and it will serve as a reminder that you need to replace something that sold with something else that will sell.

  • Are they clean? A comedienne once said it was ok to allow your kids to write their names on the dusty furniture, just don't let them use a date. Dust anywhere in a professional office is not funny. In fact it's indicative of a business that doesn't do much business and doesn't intend to either. Frames and frame bars or shelves should be clean. Demo lenses should be clean and free of dots, dashes or "x marks the spot". There is nothing more embarrassing than having a patient ask you to clean the frames they're trying on because they can't see through them. Except perhaps watching them clean the demos themselves. Ouch!

  • Are they organized? How you organize your frame bars is your choice, but you have to have some sort of a plan. You can organize by gender, by manufacturer, by color, by style or by designer. Whatever you're comfortable with. Just make sure there is a plan in place. The one problem area can be sunwear. Grouped together, a block of sunglasses can look like a black hole. Dark Frames + Dark Lenses = Black Hole. You may want to consider grouping sunwear within each of your other categories, i.e. gender, designer, etc. Or you may want to create a "racing stripe" of sunwear through the entire board area. The concept behind integrating sunwear into ophthalmic frames is to create the idea of prescription sunwear. It can make introducing the second pair purchase that much easier.

  • Are they priced? How you choose to mark prices on your eyewear is also your choice. Whatever system you choose, it should be difficult for a shoplifter to remove. Check your frame bars frequently to make sure that whatever system you use is visible on each frame and that the prices are current and correct.

Populating the boards

This is where we all get into trouble from time to time. You know how many frames your boards can accommodate. Keep in mind that you cannot be all things to all people and that you cannot buy only the frames that YOU like. You have an idea of what your patients want and can afford. Buy the frames that your patients will like and can afford. Buy frames that work with your patient mix. For instance, if your practice sees a significant percentage of children, then your children's frame mix should reflect that. Set a limit on the number of lines you can carry and stick to it. Allot a percentage of board space to each line and then work with your frame reps to keep those spaces filled with products that will move. 

As a side note, make sure that you and your staff always wear current eyewear styles, both ophthalmic and suns. You are all walking advertisements for your dispensary, even on days off. I encourage you to have everyone wear great eyeglasses, even staff members who don't need corrective lenses.

Making your inventory work for you

Effective and attractive displays are a great way for inventory to sell itself. However, there are some simple rules to follow.

  • Make your display tell a story. Who are you appealing to with the line? Does the line have a distinctive feature that will make it more attractive?

  • Make your display "user friendly." If you want your patients to try on the frames, make sure they feel free to pick them up without destroying their surroundings.

  • Allow the frames to "breathe." Too many frames too close together? Patients can't see anything. Like not seeing the forest for the trees. Build your display using everything you want to use and then begin taking things away until you have a fresh and clear picture. You're selling frames, not display props, right?

  • Change and update your displays often. While patients may not come in often enough to get tired of them, you may forget the frames are there as well. When my children were young, I used to rotate the toys they played with so that it seemed that there was always something new. Frames are like that too.

Your frame inventory represents a significant portion of your working capital and it needs to be carefully monitored so that the return on your investment is a positive number. 

You need to:

  • Track sales

  • Monitor patient demographics

  • Watch for excessive returns as a measure of quality/durability

  • Be aware of trends and style changes

Above all, you need to be ready and willing to share your excitement about your frame selection with every patient who walks through the door.

Judy Canty

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