Precisely plan your purchases to streamline workflow and boost your bottom line.

I recently visited with a client who left all of the buying to the optical manager and never even looked at what was happening in the dispensary. After the optical manager decided to leave, it became necessary for the owner of the business to look into things. Was he surprised! Vendor agreements included automatic shipments, more under stock and “closet stock” than the practice could sell in two years, and similar products from different vendors. It was a mess. You too may be surprised if you dig into what is happening with your vendors and the buying patterns in your office.

Many untrained buyers feel that they need to give most of the reps who walk through the door a “little business.” Nothing is further from the truth. The fact is most of us are doing business with too many vendors. You do not need 20 frame suppliers, relationships with three labs, and multiple sources for cases and accessories. Many of us could cut our number of suppliers in half and still be dealing with too many.

Do you have a vendor partner plan? All too often, when this is left to chance, an optical business ends up with excess inventory, reduced profits, higher costs of goods, a hodgepodge marketing message, and an under trained staff. In some of the worst cases, a poor vendor partner plan can be a recipe for going out of business.

Try this to improve your business, your profits and your future. Evaluate your business, market, demographics and business plan. Based on your determinations, develop your marketing plan and decide which vendors you would like to “partner” with. You may even want to interview all of your vendors, articulate what you are trying to accomplish, show them your business/marketing plan, and then have them make a presentation on how they can “partner” with you. Once you have chosen your partner vendors, lay out your plans for the year with them.

One or two good manufacturers can provide all of the lenses you need and, quite frankly, the same goes for a couple of good frame manufacturers. Many have all segments of the market covered. Pick a couple of partners and work with them. The results to your bottom line will astound you – lower inventory, higher sales and more premium product sales.

Dave Eichelberger is vice president, sales, of Eyenavision, Inc. He comes from an optical family and has been directly involved in the industry for over 30 years.


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