By Linda Conlin,
June 20, 2018
The products on your frame board have to interest patients–and your own staff. Opticians tasked with selling products they are genuinely excited about will have greater success than those asked to sell merchandise they feel only lukewarm about, or even dislike.
I’ve found in the practices I’ve worked in that there are ways to get your staff on board with the inventory you invest in, and to then use that buy-in to inspire higher sales.
Get Their Opinion
While staff shouldn’t have the final say in frame selection, their opinions should count. When staff has input in selecting frames, they connect with certain brands and styles, and gain a sense of ownership in the process. They will then talk more enthusiastically about the qualities of the frames, such as fit, style, color and function, with their patients.
Optical staff often is varied in age, ethnicity and background. Getting their input can help your frame mix appeal to a variety of patients. Staff members who do repairs and adjustments may be able to identify frames that may be difficult to work with, which doesn’t necessarily mean not having them, but may require caution, or special tools and training.
For instance, one practice, where I worked in the lab and in sales, brought in a frame line that was particularly cumbersome for lens edging and insertion. You can bet I never showed those frames!
Sales staff also can provide input as to areas in which the frame selection may be lacking. For example, they may have found that there is little to show large men, petite women or children.
Have Staff Wear What You Sell
Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. When a staff member says, “I think this will look great on you,” the patient feels that personal attention. In one practice where I worked, every staff member was allowed to choose a frame, and was required to wear the glasses at work, even if the lenses were plano.
Different styles were shown on different faces that way, and patients sometimes more highly regarded a style worn by a particular staff member. It wasn’t unusual to hear a patient say, “I really like your glasses. Can I try something like that?”
Depending on the size of the practice, providing glasses for staff makes sense, and even could be considered advertising. Your staff will wear their glasses away from the office, too – more advertising.
In some larger practices, where the number of staff may create cost concerns, staff members can be given an annual “allowance” for glasses, and pay any difference over that amount. Many optical labs and frame companies offer a “professional courtesy” for glasses for staff of practices that purchase a high volume of product from them over a long period of time. It’s worth exploring your relationships with vendors to determine what you can offer your staff.
Get Staff Involved in Decisions on How to Display Merchandise
Staff should have input, too, on frame board design and displays, especially those who are creative. Staff members who have designed displays will take pride in them, keeping them neat, and are more likely to bring patients to them. Staff will also want to have the most popular styles within easy access to them and to patients.
Learn & Talk About the Stories Behind the Brands
Just about everyone loves a good story, so most patients will appreciate knowing more about what they are purchasing, and staff will appreciate knowing the story behind the products they are selling.
If an optician loves a frame, there has to be a reason. What’s so wonderful about it? The story behind the frame can be a big part of the “what.” Some frame companies donate a frame to a needy person for every so many sold. Some are ecologically conscientious. For some, how the designer came to work with frames, and their “vision,” makes an interesting story. All of these things can add value to the purchase. Opticians must know about what they are recommending and why–and often will find inspiration in these back stories themselves.
Idea: Displays in the Optical with a Few Picks from Each Optician
Showcasing frames according to individual opticians’ picks, like having a display area, or part of the board, that says “Kristin’s Picks,” another that says “Sara’s Favorites,” and another that says “George’s Recommendations,” can create bonds between patients and opticians–and ultimately your practice. And even if the individual names don’t mean anything to patients browsing your optical, it will mean something that specific individuals in your office are putting their names behind particular frames.
Another way to do it is highlighting specific favorites of opticians in a practice e-newsletter, or on your practice web site or social media pages.
Showcasing frames that an optician personally selected can add a personal connection with patients. It demonstrates that the opticians care about the products, and are enthusiastic about them.
In the dispensary, I suggest not showcasing all of the opticians’ favorites at once because it may appear to be overkill or confusing. Rather, have a showcase for a different optician’s selection each month. This also serves to keep displays fresh by showcasing different styles.
Foster a Sense of Pride
In summary, staff involvement with frame selection and merchandising gives them a sense of pride and ownership in the sales process. Patients perceive that sense as personalized service, which leads to a better experience.
Linda Conlin is a licensed optician and managing editor of 20/20 Magazine’s Pro-to-Pro Newsletter. To contact: LindaConlin@OpticalCEU.com