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Recently I attended a CE course taught by Valerie Manso, a 38 year veteran of the optical industry, who knows how to capture an ECP audience to drive points home. Her Plan-o-gram course proves that she has been there, done that, succeeded, surpassed and her expertise is presented in a refreshing, down-to-earth manner.
A Plan-o-gram in my ECP mind translates into a blueprint for brick and mortar dispensary growth. I'd like to address how her course added value to my dispensing techniques and give her a nice appraisal.
We are all on a mission and want to make a statement. I guess that's why having a mission statement is one of the first steps to take when setting up your Plan-o-gram. Stay true to your mission statement by having the appropriate staff and product mix for your business culture.
A Plan-o-gram helps you to better monitor the products you're selling and the products that aren't moving. If you are using a fly by the seat of your dispensary pants method then listen up. Eyeballing your inventory and ordering frames based only on what you like wasn't mentioned in class as a smart business tool. Neither was basing your decision on which frame lines to carry depending on how good looking, cute, or hot the rep is. Asking your reps which frames are hot would be considered a smart move though.
A Plan-o-gram ensures you have the appropriate mix by patient demographics. Who are your patients? Knowing this will determine what percentage of dispensary board space to devote to the various categories of children, men, women, mature, teens, young adults, sunglasses, sports and safety frames.
Plan-o-grams can be designed using paper or plastic. For the paper route, keep an inventory sold sheet listing the sale date, frame model number, color, size, cost and category. Another paper trail would be to tag each frame and have a box for each frame vendor. When you sell a frame put the tag in the appropriate vendor's box. For those practices with plastic to spend on their Plan-o-gram, Valerie applauds a web based tracking system.
Valerie refers to frame inventory as “money on the walls.” Look at the cost of each and every frame displayed in your dispensary as a real estate investment $60, $78, $45, $120, $90. The faster you turn inventory, the less capital you have stagnant. Sounds like ECPs need to be flipping some real estate so we won't be stuck subletting our space.
Dispensary real estate thinking happens to be right up my alley. Let's walk through some of my brick hows properties. Please note: I'm not receiving any type of funding, compensation or commission from anyone mentioned in this ad.
In the land of Dispensaryville, our frames are temporary tenants, sales reps are real estate agents, ECPs are property managers and labs are prime vacation spots. Property managers and agents work together to stay on top of the current real estate market while construction work goes on at the lab so the tenants will have a fabulous vacation.
Before you agree to list any of your property you need to be comfortable with the agents and tenants that you will be working with. For ECP advice, help, answers or opinions I usually start with www.optiboard.com. Although I may not be an Optiboard forum postaholic or jump on any of the debate wagons, I have chimed in when I knew I could offer first hand experience to fellow ECPs. In my opinion the benefits of having a paid subscription to the ECP Only forum are priceless. Trade shows also give you the opportunity to meet and network with agents and find out about new tenants.
A couple of years ago I was managing some property for an owner who agreed to work with some tenants that I had never worked with before. Our new tenants arrived and they looked like they had been in a fight. They had dirty faces, lots of scuff marks and scratches and their arms were dangling. I called the agent and he promised to get the thugs out of our office ASAP. He asked me if I thought they had been in a wreck before they got there. I said it wasn't the moving company's fault since the packaging showed no signs of damage. After further review it was determined that a human error had been made and these tenants were in foreclosure and should not have been sent out to our neighborhood.
Moving right along...
Choosing the best tenants and agents for your practice is crucial. When you schedule closings every 8-16 weeks with your agents they will assist you in the decision making and should evict any tenants that simply aren't working. We'd like to believe that every tenant is going to pay rent or we wouldn't have let them move in. If you need to evict a tenant without an agent present be sure the tenant leaves with the proper RA walking papers. There are agents who will offer to take other agent's lazy tenants off your hands in exchange for housing theirs. That short sale may be the easy way out unless the new credit terms and contracts are unreasonable. Some property managers choose to avoid this whole process and instead work with remote agents who (free) rent to own.
Sometimes you may need additional housing such as a 12 story complex for a new line of tenants that are moving in. Keep in mind that having at least 12 tenants from the same family better insures that their name leaves a legacy.
No dogs allowed on the premises. Are you sure about that? Once I had a patient that specifically asked for dogs the first time I met her. She wanted to buy the ugliest frames we had that no one else would buy. Over the years she purchased 48 pairs of eyewear from me. No they weren't all dogs and because of her I look at dogs in a different way. Not taking an interest in what your buyer is looking for can come back to bite you.
Payment in full is required before tenants leave the property. If you decide to accept earnest deposit money to hold product then reasonable terms should be established. Promissory notes don't pay the practice's bills.
After the debt is paid off then the tenants get to go on vacation for a week. They usually look great when they come back. Every once in awhile a tenant will go on vacation and we find out they had an accident. In this case you may have to resort to sending them back for an all expense paid vacation.
Every day can be a buyer's and seller's market once you accept the fact that your dispensary is always going to be a fixer-upper.