By Justin Bazan, OD
and Yasmin Johnson, Optician
March 23, 2016
With online retailers and corporate chains advertising low-priced eyewear, it helps to have a unique line of eyewear that bears your practice name. My practice has invested in a line of private label frames, in which our practice name is printed on the temple, so that patients know they got it from us.
Not only are they constantly reminded of our practice, but they also have an easy reference point when friends or family ask where they got their glasses, and where they could also get a pair like that. In the near future, it may be possible for us to take customization a step further, using 3D printing to help patients design one-of-a-kind frames right in our office.
Frames that are part of the private label collection offered by Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, N.Y. Dr. Bazan and Johnson say it’s important to understand your practice demographics before developing a frame line with your name on it.
Find a Manufacturer to Label Frames
Private labeling requires you to have a frames manufacturer, or distributor, that can make frames lines with your name, or logo, on them to purchase and sell. Finding the right company to suit your needs is the first step. We did a lot of online research before deciding on SHO Eyeworks. We also asked other practices in the optical industry about the manufacturers they used for private labeling.
Our practice belongs to a couple of Facebook forums on optical sales and manufacturing, in which we also were able to ask for recommendations on good companies to provide private labeling. After all this research, we ended up being approached by SHO. They were easy to work with, had no contracts, and a reasonable minimum order. We do re-orders as we feel it’s needed.
In addition, it’s important to learn your manufacturer’s warranty policy. Our manufacturer has a warranty against defects. If it’s just a matter of a patient not being happy with the frame choice, they have 30 days to return it, and the frame has to be in sell-able condition. This rarely happens. Anything outside of this, then we would take it as a loss.
Choose Frame Line to Private Label
You should already have in mind what type of frame line you want to carry by analyzing your patient base, community, popular price points and net profits. In addition to the data you collect, it is key to know what your patient base likes fashion-wise. Our patients do not like a lot of logos and “bling” on their glasses. We also look at the way patients dress, and what they do for a living. This is not always the case, but thinking about your patients’ frame preferences, their personal style and their personal lifestyles and professions is a good start to deciding on the kinds of frames that are best for private labeling.
Given our analysis of patient data, and our experience as optical retailers, we chose clean frame lines, that provided cool colors or shapes.
Private Label Frames: Find a Manufacturer
The first step to offering private label frames in your optical is finding a manufacturer. Here are the three companies we considered, including the one that we ultimately decided on, SHO Eyeworks. In addition to online research, the major optical conferences, such as Vision Expo East and West, are ideal places to search for such manufacturers.
—Justin Bazan, OD, and Yasmin Johnson, Optician
Set Prices & Determine ROI
The private label line we carry costs us around $50 per piece to manufacture. There is usually about a week turnaround time to get us the frames we’ve ordered with our name on the temples. However, pricing can vary depending on styles and materials. We’ve seen from $50-$200 for private label frames. The benefits are exclusivity, and brand awareness. In addition, it helps us to do a better job of going against online vendors. It’s very profitable, too. We charge $350 for our private label frames.
We chose to keep it simple. Plastic frames, one price across the board. We know that we do really well with our clean plastic lines from experience. We also knew that we wanted to keep pricing in the mid-range category.
Coming Soon: Custom-Designed Frames with 3D Printing Technology
In the near future, private label will go a step further–to making the patient’s own personalized eyewear with 3D printing technology. David Friedfeld, president of ClearVision Optical, has been speaking recently on 3D-printed frames Although the technology isn’t where we need it to be just yet, he reported, it will be soon. We will truly be able to help our patients with custom solutions that are unique and ideal for them specifically.
Editor’s Note: Click HERE to listen to David Friedfeld’s interview on The Power Hour online radio show.
In the next 5-10 years, or sooner, using 3D printing technology, patients may be able to work with opticians in our office to design their frames on one of our computers. They would be able to select color, shape, and lens type, and maybe even what is inscribed on the temples (if they wanted something other than a brand name on it), and then the specs for the one-of-a-kind eyewear would be sent to a manufacturer for fulfillment, or done in the office with a 3D printer.
The ability to create custom frames right in our office would create a exclusivity unlike anything our industry has seen. Customization is not just the future–in some areas it’s now.
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Justin Bazan, OD, of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, N.Y., started his own practice cold. He speaks regularly on strategies for marketing your practice via social networks. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org