WHILE much has been written about the recession, it’s worthwhile to reflect on the lessons it has taught many ECPs. Why? Unlike other recessions, this one will likely have repercussions for decades, not just months or years. Just look around and you’ll understand why. People aren’t behaving like this re
cession is over, even though the federal government has declared that it was officially over many months ago. I bet that retailers don’t think it’s over, and many Americans probably don’t think it’s over either.
The first thing ECPs have likely learned from this recession is that there can be a recession this deep. Sure, this country has had recessions before, but none has been this bad. Remember that a good percentage of the people who experienced the Great Depression in this country are now dead. This means there are very few Americans who have that experience to draw from and share with others. In other words, we have a population that has little experience with this kind of financial upheaval.
I recently spoke with Kevin Harrison, an optical office owner in Hattiesburg, MS, who shared the lessons he’s learned from the recession with me. For one thing, Harrison has learned to buy frugally. As he explains it, there are deals to be had and he’s interested in every one he can find. In essence, Harrison doesn’t want to waste his purchasing power; instead, he wants the best value he can get for the money he’ll spend. Harrison has also learned to research purchases more heavily so that he buys the right products for his business at the right price based on his new values. From finishing equipment to the supplies he uses in the office and everything in between, all his potential purchases will now get a more thorough review before a purchase is made. Harrison has also altered his office’s product mix by reducing the number of designer and consumer brands he carries and going deeper into those brands to obtain deeper discounts with the brands he’s keeping. He’s even put in a large number of frames on consignment.
Harrison’s mindset will have a significant impact on all the vendors he interacts with and on the patients he services. Due to the recession and the impact it had on him and his business, he vows to never revert back to the way he used to do business. Multiply Harrison’s resolve by thousands of ECPs and it’s easy to understand the likely direction of the optical industry for the next decade or two.
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