USE YOUR LAB AS A MARKETING PARTNER

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Shamir’s marketing team
has created some very powerful, yet easy-to-follow guides patients can thumb through to discuss its lens products.
Materials like Rite-Style’s “Talking Points… for today’s Free-form Revolution” employee training manual make it easier for the entire team to talk about free-form lenses with their patients.

A high-end lab can be an admirable partner in working with you to increase your free-form sales.


As the free-form lens market continues to expand, perceptive optical retailers continue to look for every strategy that will help them market and sell these products. One way to do this is to partner with your free-form lab. Using a lens company and in-house-developed materials and programs, free-form labs can be a significant part of your free-form sales success.

MUTUAL PARTNERS
Both you and your free-form lab share mutual goals through your free-form sales. In order to produce these lenses, they have invested heavily in new equipment and tied up a large sum of capital for the initial push. The more lenses you order,

DON’T FORGET SINGLE VISION While the majority of free-form product sales continue to be in the progressive lens segment, it’s important to remember that single vision free-form lenses have the same merits for distance viewing that their progressive counterparts do. The next big wave in the free-form lens category will be further growth into the single vision direction. That’s why it is important for eyecare professionals to market these products just like they do their free-form progressive products. Your free-form lab can help you become comfortable discussing their benefits with your patients and promoting the lenses through a variety of programs. Doing so will allow your office to shine as a cutting-edge practice.

the faster they’ll be able to pay off this equipment, which helps you both simultaneously grow and profit together. This relationship ultimately should result in faster service of your lenses, access to more advanced products, and potentially lower pricing.

Good free-form labs exist to service you and your patients, and are partners in your success through free-form lenses and related services. Since they have a mutual interest in your success, remember that they are there to help ensure you know how to market and sell free-form lenses so don’t be shy to ask them for help. Here are some of the ways they can help you.

PATIENT TRAINING
One of the first hurdles to overcome selling a new product is learning how to talk about and offer it to patients. This means everyone in the office including the receptionist, frame stylist, technicians, and doctors. Simply put, the more acclimated the entire team is to talking about technology-based products like free-form lenses, the easier it will be to talk about them with patients. Check out materials like Rite-Style Optical Co.’s “Talking Points…for today’s Free-form Revolution” employee training manual.

Another great way to obtain this training is to call your local lab and invite them to do a training session for you. Sometimes they’ll do it themselves and sometimes they’ll have a partner lens company do it. Either way, they’ll provide the training and support that your office needs. Some lens companies even award certificates to display, highlighting your office as a certified lens expert on their products.

MARKETING
Some labs can also assist you with your internal and external free-form lens marketing efforts. For example, they have access to all the marketing materials offered by the lens companies they carry. This means you can get things like posters, countercards, brochures, plaques, video clips, and much more. By hanging posters that depict active people using free-form lenses and countercards that reinforce those images, you can tell people they need these contemporary products. Brochures enhance the messages by providing concise information patients want to know about free-form lenses. Be sure to use all of these things.

IN-HOUSE EQUIPMENT As purchasing free-form equipment becomes more financially attractive, some eyecare professionals have decided to purchase their own in-house free-form equipment. Innovators such as Coburn Technologies, Inc. and Augen Optics both offer free-form equipment packages designed for the smaller optical office. Coburn has a neat process known as LaunchPad™ that uses disposable free-form foam laps and pads that are used on traditional polishing machines. The set is compatible with existing Coburn equipment, and only requires the purchase of their CTL85DP compact dry-cut generator for you to perform free-form in house. Augen has the EasyForm processing system, an all-in-one unit that digitally surfaces, blocks, polishes, laser engraves, and finishes Augen’s HDRx Trinity progressives and HD single vision lenses. It also produces other free-form lens designs loaded into its software.

Coburn’s compact CTL85DP dry-cut generator features LaunchPad.


Some labs can also assist you with mass mailings so you can target specific patients with your free-form messages. This is an invaluable service because it helps you keep in contact with your patients to let them know you have the latest in lens technology. While free-form lenses are good for most patients, these mailings should be done for a select population so you can get the maximum benefit from your marketing effort. For example, you might hit younger buyers with a single vision free-form sunglass mailer while approaching seniors with a free-form progressive offer.

Want to have an open house where you can showcase free-form lenses? Ask your free-form lab for help with this. Some labs have done this many times before and know how to make it work. By using your lab’s knowledge and experience in marketing, you truly become partners in success.

P-O-P MATERIALS
Sometimes patients need pictures and supporting material in order to make a buying decision. Seasoned free-form lab specialists like Expert Optics, Inc. recommend taking advantage of manufacturer’s point-of-purchase materials from lens casters such as Shamir Insight, Inc. to help increase your free-form sales. Shamir’s marketing team has created some very powerful, yet easy-to-follow guides patients can thumb through that discuss their Autogragh II®, Spectrum, Element™, and Attitude™ lens products. The brochures offer quick and clear information about free-form lenses and what sets them apart from conventional lenses. From my experience, it also creates a polished atmosphere so your practice can project a free-form lens specialty image.

A lens manufacturer like Augen has an informative Web site for patients to surf and learn about free-form lenses, their technology, and their benefits.

GOING ONLINE
Many practices have Web sites that highlight their location, specialties, and hours. Build upon this by adding a patient education section that includes information on free-form lenses and technology. Labs such as Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd. have some very informative patient information materials with links you can connect to your own Web site, including a video from HOYA VISION CARE, North America, that highlights the complete free-form process.

With the Internet, patients can also become educated on free-form products and technology without setting a foot in an optical office. Lens manufacturers such as HOYA, Shamir, Augen Optics, and Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. have informative Web sites for patients to surf and learn about free-form lenses, their technology, and benefits. Be sure to link to these too.

Good free-form labs like Luzerne specialize in educating their eyecare professional (ECP) clients by offering some amazing marketing tools via their Web site. There you can find tools such as First Vision Media Group’s complete annual “Free-Form Progressive Availability Chart,” which you can download and print. This guide shows you the manufacturer, brand, minimum fitting heights, materials, power ranges, and add powers of all the major brands. Luzerne even promotes some unique marketing programs for specific brands like HOYA, highlighting their iD, LifeStyle™, MyStyle, CD, single vision, and other product lines.

TIERED PRICING
It makes sense to offer multiple price points for free-form lenses. One popular tactic is to use a good, better, and best structure where you present

Some labs promote marketing programs for specific brands like HOYA, highlighting their iD MyStyle and other product lines.

these options and allow the patient to make the decision. Using this method, the better, and best lenses are commonly brand-named products and the good category can be fulfilled with a private-label free-form lens. Rite-Style Optical Co. offers a price competitive customized backside free-form lens known as Geo-FORM. Many ECPs feel that private label designs are quite similar to the popular premium brands, have similar materials availability, and can be ordered with options such as photochromism, polarization, and anti-reflection, all at a lower price than popular branded lenses.

SERVICE AND SPEED
High-end labs need to provide quick turnaround times to meet demand. Several free-form labs such as Luzerne, Expert Optics, and US Optical have all invested in automation to help increase the speed, reliability, and consistency of your free-form orders. Boasting a super-fast, 24-hour turnaround time (anti-reflective treatment included), free-form labs such as US Optical guarantee any order received by 1:00pm EST will be delivered the next day by FedEx.

Every business needs to partner with other businesses in order to be successful. Having a lab (or two) as your partner can really help you market free-form lenses so you can deliver superior products with impressive service while realizing admirable profits.

Francis G. Gimbel Jr., is a licensed optician and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Augen Optics
800-905-2240 ext. 2006 • augenoptics.com

Coburn Technologies, Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 2016coburntechnologies.com

Expert Optics, Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 2021 • expertoptics.net

HOYA VISION CARE, North America
800-905-2240 ext. 2024 • hoyavision.com

Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd.
800-905-2240 ext. 2034 • luzerneoptical.com

Rite-Style Optical Co.
800-905-2240 ext. 2056 • ritestyle.com

Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 2061 • seikoeyewear.com

Shamir Insight, Inc.
800-905-2240 ext. 2063 • shamirlens.com

US Optical
800-905-2240 ext. 2070 • usoptical.com

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