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Thread: Cleaning up the optical

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    Cleaning up the optical

    I have two opticals that are in desperate need of an overhaul when it comes to frame inventory. For years the method of frame select has been to let the reps loose. They come in, schmooze the techs and, inevitably, the frames that we end up with are ones that look good on the tech. I can go to our board and pull down 7 frames that look exactly the same with 3 different price points. There is no real rhyme or reason to it beyond "Women's" and "Men's" "Plastic and Metal" We have done an overhaul of staff and the managers that were letting it happen are gone and the owners (My wife and I) have decided to take things in hand. Problem is that I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I am thinking we need to break up the inventory by 60%-40% Women-Men but I am also wanting other points of info to work from for tracking purposes. My goal is so that an optical tech can look at the Rx, look at the pt. and be able to pull 3 frames off the board that they know are going to function and fit properly. 1 frame that is conservative, 1 that is middle of the road and 1 that is funky fun. I want to be able to put every frame we have into a tracking category and assign groups to different reps. "Give me your top selling 10 frames that would fit into the men's, oversized, conservative, 18-40 range". That sort of thing. Am I making too much work and overcomplicating this? Do you have any suggestions as to what categories I should be looking at? Any help at all with this would be appreciated as it feels overwhelming but we absolutely have to clean up this mess we have let run for so long.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Dalharmil; 12-02-2020 at 09:56 AM.

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    I always create a lot of work for myself, but it is a lot better for the optical. 1) NEVER let the reps loose. THEY WILL ALWAYS TAKE ADVANTAGE! 2) Board allocation works wonders. 3) Look at what works in YOUR optical shop and go with it. For instance, we have a lot of older patients so what works here won't work in a younger more hip office. Once you have things running your way, maintenance is not difficult.

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    Freaking Reps!

    Quote Originally Posted by mervinek View Post
    I always create a lot of work for myself, but it is a lot better for the optical. 1) NEVER let the reps loose. THEY WILL ALWAYS TAKE ADVANTAGE! 2) Board allocation works wonders. 3) Look at what works in YOUR optical shop and go with it. For instance, we have a lot of older patients so what works here won't work in a younger more hip office. Once you have things running your way, maintenance is not difficult.
    I am seeing just how much advantage a Rep will take if you let them. As for board allocation, that is exactly the route I am planning on going. Knowing exactly how many frames of what type we want on a board and giving certain reps specific parts of the board to be responsible for. Than holding them responsible when things don't sell.

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    I've done board allocation for years. When I came to this shop, they didn't do it and just let the reps go crazy. I found about $7000 in excess stock. I was finding frames EVERYWHERE! Every time I would open a cabinet, I found another box of frames. We just got things straightened out before the pandemic hit. So I am finding now that a lot of my reps have quit or left or aren't contacting me. So it's a bit odd right now. I am keeping my stock low and are selling off the guys who aren't returning calls and bumping other lines temporarily until everything is over. The other thing that is nice about allocation is if I am out and another optician has to cover when a rep comes in, there is no questioning what needs to be done. If your number is 20 your number is 20. I am pretty strict about that. I have given a few reps a little freedom and just said order me 4 or whatever. It's easy to do with lines like Flexon that are pretty basic. Hard to screw that up. We evaluate our numbers every year and might take someone down if they're not selling well and bump someone else up if they're doing well. Also, it makes it easy if you plan to drop a line and replace with something else. You know the exact number you have space for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mervinek View Post
    I've done board allocation for years. When I came to this shop, they didn't do it and just let the reps go crazy. I found about $7000 in excess stock. I was finding frames EVERYWHERE! Every time I would open a cabinet, I found another box of frames. We just got things straightened out before the pandemic hit. So I am finding now that a lot of my reps have quit or left or aren't contacting me. So it's a bit odd right now. I am keeping my stock low and are selling off the guys who aren't returning calls and bumping other lines temporarily until everything is over. The other thing that is nice about allocation is if I am out and another optician has to cover when a rep comes in, there is no questioning what needs to be done. If your number is 20 your number is 20. I am pretty strict about that. I have given a few reps a little freedom and just said order me 4 or whatever. It's easy to do with lines like Flexon that are pretty basic. Hard to screw that up. We evaluate our numbers every year and might take someone down if they're not selling well and bump someone else up if they're doing well. Also, it makes it easy if you plan to drop a line and replace with something else. You know the exact number you have space for.
    So do you find yourself breaking your frames up by categories? Men's vs Women's in age brackets and styles categories like "Contemporary" "Conservative" and such? If so what are your categories and what do you see as the positives or negatives of them? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalharmil View Post
    So do you find yourself breaking your frames up by categories? Men's vs Women's in age brackets and styles categories like "Contemporary" "Conservative" and such? If so what are your categories and what do you see as the positives or negatives of them? Thanks!
    Yes. I have men's on one side and women's on another with a few unisex ones (Silhouette) in between. I mostly group designers together but don't worry a whole lot if some are mixed. I find that some people "don't want designers!" and then end up picking one out anyway. If they are grouped together, the people that want them can find them and when they are mixed in, people might decide these are what they like and they just didn't realize it. I also like to group "more mature" frames together. It makes it easier. Pre-covid when patients would look on their own, I could just tell an older person that they might find more of what they are looking for at one particular frame board. It helps them from not having to walk all over the place. Generally, you have to try stuff with your own office and see what works there. Don't be afraid to move stuff around. We all have different clients so what works in one office might not work in another. But definitely having men's in one area and women's in another saves a lot of time. In addition, I will tell women just because that's the men's side doesn't mean you can't look there. There are a lot of unisex frames. We just have to watch sizing! They seem to like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mervinek View Post
    Yes. I have men's on one side and women's on another with a few unisex ones (Silhouette) in between. I mostly group designers together but don't worry a whole lot if some are mixed. I find that some people "don't want designers!" and then end up picking one out anyway. If they are grouped together, the people that want them can find them and when they are mixed in, people might decide these are what they like and they just didn't realize it. I also like to group "more mature" frames together. It makes it easier. Pre-covid when patients would look on their own, I could just tell an older person that they might find more of what they are looking for at one particular frame board. It helps them from not having to walk all over the place. Generally, you have to try stuff with your own office and see what works there. Don't be afraid to move stuff around. We all have different clients so what works in one office might not work in another. But definitely having men's in one area and women's in another saves a lot of time. In addition, I will tell women just because that's the men's side doesn't mean you can't look there. There are a lot of unisex frames. We just have to watch sizing! They seem to like that.
    That is kind of what I am thinking of doing. I appreciate your input!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalharmil View Post
    That is kind of what I am thinking of doing. I appreciate your input!
    Feel Free to PM me if you need any more help. I've been doing this for over 25 years!
    -Kristin

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    Allocation numbers, set number of weeks for the rep to return, and time limit the frame is in house, you knowing your demographic, you chose the frames, reps will suggest once they see what route you are trying to take. A lot less Tylenol this way.
    Roy W. Jackson, Sr. ABOC

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    I don't let reps make decisions for me. I do it myself. Reps will give you their absolute best, but it may duplicate another rep's absolute best, and you'll have a repetitive optical.

    You need a whole-optical strategy...

    How many total number, based on how many you sell per year. Don't stock more than 1/2 the number of last year's frame sales...that's an average turn of every six months and even that's too low.

    I find a 2/1 female to male or even a 3/1 is a good idea.

    You have to decide what kind of optical you are...vision care, boutique, etc. This is huge.

    You have to decide how much service you want to pay for when you buy frames. And how much risk you tolerate.


    To get the right strategy, you need to provide a whole lot more information...

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    It sounds like you have a lot of frames just not a good mix. I think I would evaluate your current inventory and determine what you don't have. You should be able to get rid of some of those duplicate styles and bring some of the styles that you don't have. This would be a good start to getting a better balance of inventory.
    Don't let reps pick your frames...you pick them!

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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    I don't let reps make decisions for me. I do it myself. Reps will give you their absolute best, but it may duplicate another rep's absolute best, and you'll have a repetitive optical.

    You need a whole-optical strategy...

    How many total number, based on how many you sell per year. Don't stock more than 1/2 the number of last year's frame sales...that's an average turn of every six months and even that's too low.

    I find a 2/1 female to male or even a 3/1 is a good idea.

    You have to decide what kind of optical you are...vision care, boutique, etc. This is huge.

    You have to decide how much service you want to pay for when you buy frames. And how much risk you tolerate.


    To get the right strategy, you need to provide a whole lot more information...
    This is 100% correct!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalharmil View Post
    I have two opticals that are in desperate need of an overhaul when it comes to frame inventory. For years the method of frame select has been to let the reps loose. They come in, schmooze the techs and, inevitably, the frames that we end up with are ones that look good on the tech. I can go to our board and pull down 7 frames that look exactly the same with 3 different price points. There is no real rhyme or reason to it beyond "Women's" and "Men's" "Plastic and Metal" We have done an overhaul of staff and the managers that were letting it happen are gone and the owners (My wife and I) have decided to take things in hand. Problem is that I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I am thinking we need to break up the inventory by 60%-40% Women-Men but I am also wanting other points of info to work from for tracking purposes. My goal is so that an optical tech can look at the Rx, look at the pt. and be able to pull 3 frames off the board that they know are going to function and fit properly. 1 frame that is conservative, 1 that is middle of the road and 1 that is funky fun. I want to be able to put every frame we have into a tracking category and assign groups to different reps. "Give me your top selling 10 frames that would fit into the men's, oversized, conservative, 18-40 range". That sort of thing. Am I making too much work and overcomplicating this? Do you have any suggestions as to what categories I should be looking at? Any help at all with this would be appreciated as it feels overwhelming but we absolutely have to clean up this mess we have let run for so long.

    Thanks
    When I came into this office 3 years ago, I found 274 frames on the board, that had been there since they opened back in 2007, I found frames in every nook and cranny. We have an 800 frame optical and they had over 1500, most by the same reps that never returned once they found out I had moved over here. Make your reps honest or fire them. The cash cow ended upon my arrival, we have finally gotten to a manageable level, and the reps know exactly what to expect. Gotta take charge.
    Roy W. Jackson, Sr. ABOC

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    I accepted a position once and didn't buy any frames for the first six months. Just worked off the excess inventory. This came back to bite me in the a** the following year. Profits were down compared to the first year. No kidding Doc. Last year we were selling product that had been purchased years earlier. We had income without corresponding expenses. Explained this to him numerous times, showed him the inventory numbers, and he still couldn't wrap his head around it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by waynegilpin View Post
    I accepted a position once and didn't buy any frames for the first six months. Just worked off the excess inventory. This came back to bite me in the a** the following year. Profits were down compared to the first year. No kidding Doc. Last year we were selling product that had been purchased years earlier. We had income without corresponding expenses. Explained this to him numerous times, showed him the inventory numbers, and he still couldn't wrap his head around it.
    Oh lord, sounds like my last Doctor, couldn't grasp that stock purchase was different than warranty and purchased and ordered frames per patient request was different and shouldn't count in the monthly budget. Even asked him if he wanted me to turn patients away from using warranty or purchasing and ordering per patient request. Head pounding the wall!!!!!
    Roy W. Jackson, Sr. ABOC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Optical Roy View Post
    When I came into this office 3 years ago, I found 274 frames on the board, that had been there since they opened back in 2007, I found frames in every nook and cranny. We have an 800 frame optical and they had over 1500, most by the same reps that never returned once they found out I had moved over here. Make your reps honest or fire them. The cash cow ended upon my arrival, we have finally gotten to a manageable level, and the reps know exactly what to expect. Gotta take charge.
    When interviewing for positions, I would always ask what problems they thought needed to be addressed. Without fail, in private practices, the answer would be that inventory needed to be brought under control: Too many frames, too many vendors, styles that didn't match their patient demographics, piles of defective product that hadn't been returned. Too often they had hired people who may have been excellent opticians, but had little business training or experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Optical Roy View Post
    Oh lord, sounds like my last Doctor, couldn't grasp that stock purchase was different than warranty and purchased and ordered frames per patient request was different and shouldn't count in the monthly budget. Even asked him if he wanted me to turn patients away from using warranty or purchasing and ordering per patient request. Head pounding the wall!!!!!
    And with a different practice: "Why do monthly profits vary so much?" Well Doc, with YOUR accounting system, we are paying last month's expenses with this month's income. If last month was slow (small expenses) and this month is busy (big income), we show a great profit. If last month was busy (big expenses) and this month is slow (small income), we don't show much profit. This is the same answer I've given to you a dozen times already. And BTW, I just love these impromptu meetings that we have during my lunch break. That's why I seldom eat lunch in the building.

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