‘VALUE-ABLE’ EYEWEAR

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Value eyewear is how you define it; present your frames as ‘valuable’ by following these dispensing tips.

For some reason, the optical industry has decided in the past decade to rename low-priced frames as “value eyewear.” This is the biggest misnomer since “no-line bifocal.” Value is a perception. I can guarantee that most of my customers spending $600 on a limited edition, serial-numbered frame, of which I only sell one in each color, feel they have purchased eyewear with value. Why should only frames made in China with wholesale prices lower than $25 have this name? If anything, this lower quality product has less value, since it tends to fall apart sooner! Every piece you sell in your dispensary, whether it is low priced or high end, has value. Your job is to convince your customer it has value to them.

WHAT IS VALUE?
Value is defined as “an amount of goods, services or money considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.” So, basically, value is a “good deal‚” not necessarily cheap.

How do we figure out what people consider to be of “value” or a “good deal”? Well, you need to understand some basic consumer thinking. Price, convenience, service, selection and quality are the factors that drive value. Businesses, be they billion dollar ones or mom-and-pop shops, concentrate on a few of those factors. Trying to offer every one of these factors simply confuses your customers and leaves them feeling like just a number, not a shopper who purchased eyewear from someone who had their needs in mind. Also, remember that Baby Boomers are, well, booming in the optical industry, and they are a demanding lot. They grew up with the beginning of fast food and drive-ins, so they want what they want when they want it, and all for a good price.

THINK LIKE YOUR CUSTOMERS
People do not buy products based solely on price. If we did, there would be only two choices of everything in the world, the store brand and some off brand competing for who could be cheaper. When you go shopping, while price may be a consideration, is that the only thing you look at? No, and for the most part, your customers shop the same way. These days, most of us are more concerned about spending wisely. So, a store that has good prices and good service will attract those customers looking for that. Likewise, having the lowest prices will bring in consumers whose chief concern is the bottom line. It’s not who you are, how they are treated, or getting the latest technology but price and convenience that these customers are concerned with.

Let’s face it. Your average customers walking in the door have no clue about what optical products “should” cost. They usually gauge their opinions on how much they think a product should be based on a few factors, they’ve shopped around, they’ve purchased similar products in the past, they’ve spoken with friends or family who have made similar purchases, or they recognize brands and materials. You can only control one of those factors, the last one. Why do you think there is a multi-billion dollar industry whose sole purpose is marketing? Well, in this case, it’s to help you sell your frames and lenses! It’s why point-of-purchase materials should be front and center in your dispensary. Use the millions of dollars that have been spent nationally to your advantage.

There is another, less obvious factor, and it’s the hardest to nail down, and that is your customers’ perception of you, your store and your trustworthiness. Average customers don’t know one lens from another. They just know that you seem pretty passionate about one of those and assume that you will give them the best lens for their needs.

MAKE IT ‘VALUE-ABLE’
Make your pricing obvious and simple to understand. Don’t confuse your customers with a lot of add-ons. They will get frustrated, feeling that you are taking advantage of them. Ask them what they want. Once you determine what their needs are, give them a total price, explaining that this would fulfill all their requirements.

Keep your target market in mind when creating your pricing structure. If you are going higher end, keep prices rounded, and use a consistent mark-up. If price is your number one priority, try the age-old gambit of putting .99 on the end of products. Most customers perceive $11.99 to be cheaper than $12.
Try looking into private label or house brands, those non-branded, ‘bread-and-butter’ brands most frame manufacturers produce. They are usually of similar quality to the branded products, but they carry a lower price point.
Offer a generic brand of lens treatments as well as the premium brand. You can explain the difference in the “good-better-best” scenario, helping your customer feel better informed about their choices.
And remember, you cannot be all things to all people. You are going to have some people walk out your door. But how you treat them for the time they are in your store may just have them coming back someday to buy the eyewear that you sell and that they perceive as “value-able.” n
Nikki DiBacco, ABO, NCLEC, CPC, has worked over 30 years in the optical industry in every aspect of the ‘three Os,’ starting her career as a contact lens technician and eventually opening and managing four optical shops, selling three and still retaining ownership in one, her most unique and upscale eyewear boutique. She is a certified professional coder (CPC) as well as ABO/NCLEC certified, an ABO certified speaker, and co-founder of consulting firm The Visionaries Group.

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