Article Date: 1/1/2014

Business Strategies
business strategies

Lessons From the Cancun Airport

What can an outsider’s perspective do for your optical’s merchandising?

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GARY GERBER, O. D.

Returning from Cancun, I was reminded of the importance of merchandising and how we physically position things in our practices. Also, I was made aware of the importance of having an outside perspective.

After going through security on my way back to the United States, I landed in what can best be described as a miniature shopping mall. The shopping area literally sprung up immediately after I picked up my bag from the X-ray conveyor belt. I had no choice but to walk through it.

To allay any potential shopper’s fears about missing their flights, multiple monitors displayed flight departure information. The lesson here: Merchants made it incredibly easy and convenient to shop by placing their products where travelers have no choice but to see them.

A display problem

Unfortunately, many of us do exactly the opposite. Too many practices “display” frames in boxes under a lab counter top because they run out of space on their frame boards. Of course, that’s an extreme way to demonstrate that where you physically place a product has a bearing on whether it will be sold. And in this case, those frames won’t be.

But, there are more subtle examples we can learn from the Cancun airport. If you have more than one place to show patients eyewear, the odds are that one of those desks, counters or stations gets used more than others. It’s also likely that the frames closest to that station get sold the most.

The “go-to” desk

For example, we had a client who used five optical desks to show patients glasses and, later on, dispense them. When doctors brought patients to the optical, one of the five served as the “go-to” desk. With the patient on one side of the desk and the optician on the other, it was no surprise that the frames directly behind and to the optician’s right (he was right handed) were the practice’s best-selling frames. Looking at this even closer, the number one selling frame was located at eye level for most patients.

Supermarkets routinely use this concept. Manufacturers may even pay to have their products displayed at eye level vs. the less desirable top or bottom shelf.

If you want to increase sales of a particular frame, put it where your patients can readily see it and your frame sellers can easily show it.

The outside advantage

Next, realize the only reason I notice things like the layout of the Cancun mini-mall or a practice’s frame placement or a doctor’s desk preference is because I’m an outsider. Someone working in the airport might be blind to the jewelry and perfume. Similarly, it’s obvious which frames will be the best sellers in the practice when we watch the seating habits of patients and the selling habits of opticians. That’s because we don’t “live” in the office like the doctor or staff members.

Short of calling in outsiders to help you with this concept, the next best thing you can do is to focus and take time for a critical and objective look at how your eyeglass frames are displayed and how patients are escorted and seated in your optical. It’s not bad to have a “go-to” seating area or a frame that outsells others 7:1. Just realize that both of those seemingly random events are under your control. OM

DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (888) 356-4447.



Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: January 2014, page(s): 64