Below is a comprehensive guide to successfully managing your optical shop in a non-retail setting.
First, lets get a few basics out of the way..
1) No optical can be successful without patients. So you need a strategy in place to bring patients to your optical shop. If you are an optometrist or ophthalmologist and have a healthy practice…the means to successfully dispense glasses is already within your grasp. A successful optical needs a minimum of 30 to 35 newly refracted patients each week to have a high probability for success.
2) Well defined market positioning. To have success, you must position your optical from the beginning to have the greatest likelihood for that event. This means knowing your customer and doing some research about what their buying habits and trends are. Don’t guess!! This is critical. Nothing works if you are attempting to sell a Mercedes to a Chevy customer base or conversely if you are trying to sell Chevy’s to a Mercedes clientele. KNOW THY CUSTOMER! Purchase demographic data from a marketing firm and do some patient surveying to understand what your patients are interested in and how they spend their discretionary income now. Be as specific as you can. The more info the better.
3) HIRE RIGHT! To have a successful and profitable dispensary means getting the right optician/opticians to work for you. Invest in high character and high motor employees. People with a strong work ethic and a strong moral fabric should be where you begin. They will make or break your chances for success so better to be choosy and find the best optician in your market before working hard to make them better.
4) Optician Management The best piece of advice I can offer you is to manage aggressively with information. Track capture rates, patient flow stats, optician selling habits, average transaction price, transactions per hour, etc etc. Keep your opticians in the loop on your goals and objectives. Have them participate in semi-annual goal setting sessions with you or top management. Also, invest in optician training. Well trained opticians are the key to developing a sustainable growing optical. Train them extensively on the items you have identified as key to that growth. That means invest in their training, use your resources to make them better and work hard on identifying the resources you are going to use to make them better. AND PAY THEM WELL. A good base salary plus strong reachable incentives that pay them for performance. They will be happy and you will be too.
5) Use the White Board Strategy This means post your goals and results multiple times per week in an area that is easily visible to the opticians. Update your optical staff on their performance to those metrics and both talk to them about what is needed to hit the goals and just as importantly ask them what are the things that they are struggling with that are keeping them from hitting the goals. Then eliminate them (the inhibitors to hitting the goals).
6) Frame Board Consolidation This is one of the key ways to make sure your profit margins are healthy. Do not let the frame companies merchandise the frame boards for you. Instead, you should shop aggressively for the frame companies that will provide a deep line of many brands and good discounts based on your frame board space allocation. Then shrink the number of companies you work with and expand your presence with those companies that have met the criteria above. Deep options, mulitple price points and good discounts.
7) Capture Rate Tracking and Reports Lastly, to know if you are doing a good job…look beyond the bottom line and the top line revenues. Growing optical revenues is important. But so is the utilization rate or capture rate of the optical. Track the number of patients refracted by the practice, track the number of sales made and determine your capture rate. Then plot it against national averages and see how you stack up. Information is everything. Flying blind with either no information or with unviewed information is a sure way to fail. So invest in the reports and spend time to review what they actually mean. Then develop your training schedule to fix the areas of weakness and make them areas of strength.