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Thread: Special ordering frames

  1. #1
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Special ordering frames

    Say a patient wants "green frames" and you have zero (happened to me yesterday). So you go to your catalogues and point out several that are candidates and the patient approves.

    What is your policy/procedure?

    Order a max number of frames, like three?

    Charge any "special ordering" fee?


    Or, do you operate your optical such that you discourage special ordering, and stick to what's on-hand?


    Do you do something in-between...for example you will find a frame style in inventory that looks good and fits well, and just order in another color?

  2. #2
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    I do my best to not get in that situation, but sometimes I will order frames for a patient to try on at n/c. Max of 3. You can usually tell how interested the patient is. If it looks like they prob still won't like those, then I wouldn't want to order them in and discourage it. I feel like we make up the shipping with the final order. Usually, I will keep those frames for stock until the rep comes to "clean the boards." I hate to pay shipping twice, so if I have another return and can put them together then that's the way to go. I HATE ordering in like that, but sometimes you have to do it to make the sale. Fortunately this does not happen often. I can count on one hand how many times in over a year.

    Forgot to add.... I don't announce that we can order in other colors. If asked or if you feel you need to go that way, then I will let them know yes we can, but generally I wouldn't say "they all come in other colors!' You usually will have something else on the board that will work for them.

  3. #3
    OptiWizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by mervinek View Post
    I do my best to not get in that situation, but sometimes I will order frames for a patient to try on at n/c. Max of 3. You can usually tell how interested the patient is. If it looks like they prob still won't like those, then I wouldn't want to order them in and discourage it. I feel like we make up the shipping with the final order. Usually, I will keep those frames for stock until the rep comes to "clean the boards." I hate to pay shipping twice, so if I have another return and can put them together then that's the way to go. I HATE ordering in like that, but sometimes you have to do it to make the sale. Fortunately this does not happen often. I can count on one hand how many times in over a year.

    Forgot to add.... I don't announce that we can order in other colors. If asked or if you feel you need to go that way, then I will let them know yes we can, but generally I wouldn't say "they all come in other colors!' You usually will have something else on the board that will work for them.
    We operate similar to this. It really depends on the individual situation. If it is a patient that wants to stick close to what the insurance is going to cover we don't bring up other colors or that we can order frames to try on. If is a patient that is going to spend several hundred dollars privately and they aren't too much of a pain in the butt then we will show them different colors and or sizes.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sledzinator View Post
    they aren't too much of a pain in the butt then we will show them different colors and or sizes.
    +1. This!

  5. #5
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    At our office we usually keep different colors of frames some green, red, blue and various colors. Our patients like colors but if we have to order a certain color we would order around 3 frames for the patient to look at. We would keep the ones the pt doesn't want and resale them or send them back by the rep. It also depends on the manufacture as the return policy is easier with some than others. We also do not charge the patient for ordering.

  6. #6
    OptiWizard
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    I would also say be very careful about opening that door. Once it is open it is impossible to close. We have patients that aren't the easiest to work with that expect it every year now. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

  7. #7
    OptiWizard
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    I usually just order 1 frame in another color since they are sold on the fit and design. Its really rare where I have to order more than 1. But I usually keep the frames they didn't like on the board and someone usually gets it or the rep takes it back.

  8. #8
    Master OptiBoarder optical24/7's Avatar
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    “ What other colors does this frame come in, Mr Optician Man?”

    ” Well, Mrs Pickeybritches, it does come in putrid green with pink swirls.”

    ” Oohh! That sounds yummy! Can you order it, so I can look at it?”

    ” Absolutely! Let me call the manufacturer…”

    I go to my front phone, so they can hear me make “the call”..

    Not going to an open line, I pickup the receiver and “call”. “ Hi XYZ frame maker people! I’d like to order a Dale Evans 666 in color putrid green…”

    In a loud voice I say, “Backordered?!” “How long?? Forever?? Well, thank you anyway”…

    ….”Sorry Mrs Pickeybritches,,,I tried..”



    I NEVER fell into that trap. Have a diverse inventory. You’re customers should be able to find what they like if you select right.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by optical24/7 View Post
    “ What other colors does this frame come in, Mr Optician Man?”

    ” Well, Mrs Pickeybritches, it does come in putrid green with pink swirls.”

    ” Oohh! That sounds yummy! Can you order it, so I can look at it?”

    ” Absolutely! Let me call the manufacturer…”

    I go to my front phone, so they can hear me make “the call”..

    Not going to an open line, I pickup the receiver and “call”. “ Hi XYZ frame maker people! I’d like to order a Dale Evans 666 in color putrid green…”

    In a loud voice I say, “Backordered?!” “How long?? Forever?? Well, thank you anyway”…

    ….”Sorry Mrs Pickeybritches,,,I tried..”



    I NEVER fell into that trap. Have a diverse inventory. You’re customers should be able to find what they like if you select right.
    Ha! You're the best. I can say, it's very rare that I need to order a frame for a patient. Usually if they want to see it in another color, we have another frame in that color and they can try it on to see the color. Also, especially with covid issues, we did have a lot of back orders and patients seem to understand that because they're seeing it at the grocery store too. I just say, if it's on back order, we will NOT order it. I tell the patients the back order dates haven't been true and they keep extending them.

  10. #10
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    One thing for sure, we don't do it for people who just walk-in and are "looking". That's a pretty low conversion rate.

  11. #11
    OptiBoard Apprentice
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    Much like everyone else here, we try to avoid ordering frames for patients who aren't absolutely sure they want to buy. Luckily, a few reps will send us their samples, which has saved us a headache a few times in the past. There are also times we can point to another frame on the boards from the same line with the colours the patient wants and tell them "it'll look like this, but in that shape."
    When a patient needs to see a new shade of black rectangle because the one we currently have isn't shady enough, I'll let them know I can order it, but that they have to purchase it before I hit order.

  12. #12
    OptiWizard KrystleClear's Avatar
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    In the past we have special ordered frames for people and got burned. They either never came back in or rejected them when they came in to see them in person, and then we're stuck with a frame we didn't want in the first place. You can return them but few suppliers will give a full refund or credit anymore, and then you've paid to have them shipped to you and then to ship them back. Before my co-optician quit, she ordered a duplicate of a zyl frame we did have in stock at the patient's insistence. I guess the patient wanted to see the variation in the pattern or something. That patient never came back in despite receiving several calls. Now we have two of a frame that hasn't been popular to begin with.

    If it is a style we carry and the patient wants it in a different color that we don't have, fine, I'm happy to do that because we'll likely be able to sell it if they decide they don't want it. If it's a specific frame model from a line we carry, I am happy to order that. We get requests for specific Oakley frames from time to time, so I don't mind that. I have noticed that those patients who can't find anything in the shop they like are difficult to please. I have a patient that is dead set on the same Shuron frame he has had for ages. We don't carry Shuron and they don't (or won't) do invoice billing apparently so it's an ordeal for me to either get the manager to write a check and mail it or get the company credit card, but since he KNOWS he likes that frame, I'll do it.

    I see posts on Opticians on Facebook where the patient has sent the optician on a wild goose chase with a vague idea of what they want but no specific frame model. I'm not doing that, especially if they've never ordered from us before. I'm happy to show the patient what I think will suit them and if they want a specific shape or color I will show them the frames that match that criteria. I have worked hard to curate our frame collection so that there is a wide selection for our main demographic and then a smaller amount of more fun/whacky/youthful frames for those patients not in that demographic. When I started, it was 95% "old people" glasses. I think now we have 70% "old people" and 30% other stuff (more fun, funky, and youthful styles). If you still can't find anything you like, then feel free to peruse the other opticals in town. (Most of them all carry the same old stuff as every other place, though).
    Krystle

  13. #13
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    I wonder if the online "we'll send you a batch" mentality is going to make "customer" committment worse.

    How would we fight that?

    What are we, instead?


    Is it better that we consider ourselves "a resource...I can get you whatever you want...any price point...any style because we have lots of accounts" or do we consider ourselves "a store...we have an inventory and you can get what we have".


    (I guess the same could be said of ophthalmic lenses..."You need Hoya? Zeiss? What?")

  14. #14
    OptiBoard Apprentice
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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    I wonder if the online "we'll send you a batch" mentality is going to make "customer" committment worse.
    I think the "batch" in a brick and mortar store is the entire store itself. By coming into the building they can try on all the frame which peak their interest. I will let patients take frame home overnight if they would like to. No more than 5 though and they have to leave a credit card number. 99% of the time when they do, everyone at home hates all the frames they took home so they're back to square one the next day when they return them.

  15. #15
    OptiBoardaholic Optical Roy's Avatar
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    I live by the moto, "Sell what I can see, not see what I can sell", if they like the frame but want it in another color, I write the order, have them pay half the charges, I order it as patient evaluation, when it comes in, they can chose between the 2 colors. Then I'll restock the original, unless they go back to that, then I'll either put the other color in stock or return it under invoice.
    Roy W. Jackson, Sr. ABOC

  16. #16
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    HBB, I like it! The store is the batch. Perfect concept.

    A tip: don't let patients take frames home. Just film the patient in your frames for them. It may take a little practice, but you can get good at it.

    We (fortunately or not) get a lot of "virtual" frame stylings...the wife is on the other end choosing the husband's final frame choices.

  17. #17
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Maybe we're getting off subject, but consider:

    A. "Face time" with the valued-opinion person. Pro: final decision reached. Con: a bit clunky to get in touch
    B. "Take home photo" for the valued-opinion person: Pro: easy to do. Con: has to come back, later.

  18. #18
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Optical Roy View Post
    "Sell what I can see, not see what I can sell"
    This is wisdom. I like proverbs.

  19. #19
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    This just came back up today, because we always slouch back to old habits.

    Some dingy patient liked a frame on the board, but wanted to see two other colors (we already had two on the board). Result: didn't like them, purchased a different style altogether.

    Another crazy patient: wants to see THREE different frame styles in different colors. Of course we're ordering.


    NOW! Mind you, these are all vision care plan patients. You know what that means? We aren't getting paid enough for frame styling by a highly skilled optician, LET ALONE having all these special order privileges! This has to stop.

    If we decide to drop all vision plans and run a botique we can give botique service.

    Ironically, and I totally understand the initial concern, my optician says "yeah, but if we don't have what they want, they'll walk". But the alternative can't be "well, let's lose money or break even on them, then." Having them walk is a favor at some point.

    I can't divulge the VCP frame service margins, but they're so eroded that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that concierge-type service is feasible.

    So my conclusion is that we will not special order any frames or colors any longer. What you see is what you get. If you don't see something you like in our collection, please feel free to check out your options elsewhere.
    Last edited by drk; 02-20-2024 at 07:30 PM.

  20. #20
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    The only other possible alternative I could come up with is to create a new level of service, something like "custom frame styling services" or hopefully something way more descriptive.

    This is half-baked, but the gist would be "you pay us $XXX (cash) for glasses styling services and we'll sit with you and do a color and shape analysis and special order just the right frame if needed".

    And you'd pay it regardless of whether you're a cash or insurance patient, if you want it. It's a service fee, not a frame fee.

  21. #21
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Concierge Medicine

    Concierge medicine (also called boutique medicine, retainer-fee practice, direct care, and membership medicine) is a prevalent concept where the customer pays a flat/annual fee or a retainer in exchange of enhanced personalised care and better access to their doctors.
    The concept was started in 1996 when a doctor from Seattle decided to ask his patients to pay an annual fee or a retainer in exchange for highly attentive medicine. The practice became famous in a short while and was accepted by a lot of doctors from all over the world.
    The concierge medicine business model is a win-win model for both the doctors and the patients as the doctor doesn’t have to manage a huge number of patients to make their ends meet, and the patients get timely and personalised care and treatment from their doctor.
    The retainer fee of such service range from few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per year. This may or may not be in addition to other charges and may or may not be covered by health insurance policies.

  22. #22
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    So the idea in concierge medicine (and I don't do this nor do I endorse it, necessarily) is that you pay to play. It's like a membership fee. You still get your insurance billed. It's just that you pay an annual fee to make up for the crappy service levels that are paid for by the insurers.

    I'm surprised it's allowed, but hey. It's a good idea.

  23. #23
    Master OptiBoarder optical24/7's Avatar
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    Or…Post #8? At least you give the illusion of caring…

  24. #24
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    I don't know. Clearly there are two ends to this dichotomy:

    One pole: "See inventory? Help yourself."
    Opposite pole: "Allow me to fawn all over you."

    There's always a "slider" that moves from one pole to the other to set the thermostat, so everyone is going to have to set it where it balances reimbursement with time invested.


    Some entrepreneurial or relational types might say: "I want to invest time because it will pay off in the short run (a multiple pair, maybe?) or the long run (loyalty, and they can't possibly be such a pain next year?).

    Other transactional types may say: "I want to make a reasonable amount PER TRANSACTION so I'm not going to over-invest."

    It's a philosophical decision.

  25. #25
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    There are a few of these providers in my area. One offers GP and mental health services. Membership fee and you are assured to see a doctor within 24 hours.

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