FRAME BUYING is a balancing act between art and science: Opticians need to be inspired to sell, but data speaks volumes. A successful product mix balances variety, sell-through and, most importantly, style, uniquely targeted to your consumers. In this, you are your own expert. So, gather your data, balance staff opinions, calculate frame turnover, and assess board space. Here’s how:
Collect data on the demographics and habits of your consumers via your point-of-sale software, your environment and free outlets.
- Point-of-sale software. Does your software track demographics? If so, use it! Your frame mix should reflect your representative population. For example, if 65% of your consumers are female, don’t leave them with only 50% of the dispensary! If more consumers are between the ages of 55 to 80 rather than 20 to 55, don’t stock only trendy designers, as older consumers tend to appreciate function over fashion.
For older consumers, concentrate on performance-based products rather than the emotional appeal of brands. They’ll appreciate the titanium, hypo-allergenic and lightweight products.
For younger consumers, such as millennials, stock a mixture of affordable branded lines ($45 wholesale or lower) with another more expensive line that carries a large celebrity following. (If you need help figuring out “what’s cool,” there’s nothing millennials like more than to give opinions. Ask your children or younger family members, have your opticians ask younger patients, scan MTV, and check out BuzzFeed fashion blogs.)
- Environment. Your frame mix should appeal to your consumers. For example, their physical attributes, such as face shapes and coloring, can be complemented with certain eyewear. Your opticains likely discuss this with them during selection. Consumers with larger, square heads may find the most flattering frame styles are large, metal frames with high-attaching temples. Also, cool skin tones are suited to shiny black frames. For warmer skin tones, dark tortoise or matte black are more flattering. For paler skin tones, opt for softer and more muted colors, such as sage green and burgundy. For your patients with darker skin tones, consider bright and bold colors, such as fuchsia, teal and bright reds. (OM’s October 2015 feature “The 5 Rules of Frame Styling” can shed some additional light on customizing frame selection for your consumers.)
When helping consumers select frames or ordering frames for your optical, keep in mind that this guidance may not always apply. Matching shapes and colors is an art — and each consumer has his or her own unique tastes.
You might also take note of styles of your consumers. If fashion sense tends to the conservative, traditional frames are appropriate. But, perhaps, you note a flare of high fashion, in which case, perhaps, consider a retro line or funky-shaped flat metals.
- Free outlets. Facebook’s “Audience Insights” feature allows you to see the gender, age, income, etc. breakdown of your social media network or city. It compares the trends locally to national averages for purchasing statistics. To access this information, go to Facebook on a desktop or laptop computer. In the search bar at the top, type in “Audience Insights” and then click on “Audience Insights” underneath the Apps section. It will prompt you to view information on “Everyone on Facebook” or only those connected to your Facebook page. Use the information for those connected to your Facebook page to glean data on your existing patients.
If the information you collect reveals retail spending is low, bring out the budget frames and packages. If it’s high, shoot for name brands and premium independent eyewear.
Check out Census information for your area too, to understand the workforce. Are the largest employers labor-based or office-based? If you can’t find it on a national website, search your state’s Census website. Identify these pieces of information to cater to your market! For example, an office with a lot of consumers who are outdoor workers, would benefit from carrying a popular sunwear line or quality safety glasses. Office workers would benefit from a greater range of lightweight frames and speciality lenses that cater to those with computer vision syndrome.
|TURNOVER RATE VIA SALES REPORTS|
|FRAME LINE||FRAMES ORDERED||STOCK RETURNS/PATIENT RETURNS||SALES||SELL-THROUGH|
BALANCE STAFF OPINIONS
Create patient questionnaires for your opticians. Specifically, include queries about the physical attributes of your consumers, such as face shape, and lifestyle information, such as profession. What are your consumers’ hobbies? Weekend plans? Favorite shows? Also, have your staff members note the eyewear, sunwear, clothing style and accessories of the consumers they see.
In addition, they should note whether your consumers are brand loyal or value-based. For example, if your optician notes that a consumer has a branded handbag, perhaps she would be interested in seeing that designer’s eyewear. Compile these findings through the course of a week or a month, and ask for feedback from your opticians.
Also, observe your opticians and their tendencies. Are your opticians ordering frames instead of selling off the boards? If so, you’re likely missing something on your boards, either a price point or a style. This could be tracked by your software. If your software can’t track this, create a procedure to track and let a manager maintain a spreadsheet.
One caveat: Always take optician opinions with a grain of salt. Your staff may or may not be representative of your patient demographics, but they definitely know what’s missing.
CALCULATE FRAME TURNOVER
Evaluate your products annually by frame line and price point. Depending on how your optical is run, there are multiple ways to determine product turnover by manufacturer:
- If your eyewear lines have designated board spots, simply divide total sales by the number of designated spots. (See “Turnover Rate Via Board Space,” p.59.)
- If you don’t have designated spots, run a sales report, adjustment report and inventory-received report for the same time period. From the quantity of frames ordered for each frame line, subtract the number of stock returns and patient warranties. Then, divide the number of sales by this difference. It will give you a sell-through percentage. See “Turnover Rate Via Sales Reports,” p.18.)
If you have lines that are newer than one year, their sell-through won’t be accurate.
Find out more about frame board management in other Optometric Management publications:
- Jay Binkowitz finds that every practice should carry a minimum of 1,000 frames, broken down and allocated into: adults, plano sunglasses, kids, tweens and express-buy bundles, in June’s “By the Numbers.”
- Neil B. Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., uses a Frame Board Management worksheet to collect his data, including assessing the number of frames in each of the following retail price points: Under $150, $150 to $250, $250 to $350, $350 to $450, $450 to $600, and more than $600, according to “Tip of the Week” “Frame Board Management, Part One.” See also Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.
- Dave Ziegler, O.D., offers options for reducing frame inventory not living up to expectations, including: exchanging them, selling them off and asking the company to buy them out, according to “Reduce Frame Inventory,” in the August issue, part two of the “Optical” column’s four-part frame board management series. See July, September and October editions for companion pieces.
ASSESS BOARD SPACE
The turnover rate goal for your core product should be three, annually, meaning the board spots have turned over three times. Any frame line that results with a one or higher is a frame line that has solid sell-through. Evaluate these lines for a possible increase of board space. Frame lines that result in less than one should be evaluated for performance. (Specialty eyewear will be the exception, whether it is high-end designer or activity-specific eyewear.)
In addition to turnover rate, compare sales vs. stock to evaluate frames to offer. Run stock and sales reports; export the data to a spreadsheet using your point-of-sale software. Your stock report should be comprised of those brands and frame lines you carry and how many of each you currently hold in stock. The sales report should have data on those brands and frame lines that you have sold through a given period of time. This can — and should — also be presented as sales per category, such as male vs. female frames. If you can customize your software, consider creating your own category codes to track frame sales in a way that makes sense to you. Some possible categories: classic, trendy, sport, branded, professional, petite and bright.
Compare these two reports. Have you sold more of a category than you stock? Have you sold less of a certain line than you stock?
In addition, evaluate your sales information per price point. For most offices, $25 or $50 increments are adequate. (The increment you use is based on your pricing range.) Count the frames within each pricing group, then determine the percentage of inventory within each group. Compare percentages of sales to percentages of stock, looking for large discrepancies.
In comparing the sales reports vs. stock reports, ensure that your percentage of space on your boards match your sales and/or your goals. Save your spreadsheet to set goals and comparison for the future. In a year, re-evaluate your product mix and set a goal, whether it is to increase turnover or to raise the average frame sale price.
|TURNOVER RATE VIA BOARD SPACE|
|FRAME LINE||YEARLY SALES||BOARD SPOTS|
The true key to success with your turnover rate is balance. About 80% or more of your board space should be filled with high-turn product. Use the remainder to offer unique items or to experiment with different frame lines that the opticians are excited about. Allow both art and science to guide you to a profitable optical. OM