In this installment of my series on frame board management, I’ll write about the importance of reordering best-selling frames on a regular basis. While this sounds like it should be easy, it has always been a challenge because when a frame is sold, we don’t really know if it is a hot seller or not. We generally have only one frame unit in each color, so when it sells, we don’t know if it is the start of a trend or a one-off sale.
I believe it is very important to present a complete collection of frames within a brand. I’d rather have fewer brands and more units in each one. Patients who are interested in the brand want to see a lot choices. The brand should be well-represented. A few oddball shapes and colors are not impressive and it looks like old stock. Based on this premise, it is not good enough to sell a bunch of frames and then wait for the sales rep to return in a few months. The good styles are likely gone very quickly.
A new reordering system
We have been using a new method of reordering frames on a weekly basis that is working well for us and our frame reps like it as well. Here is how it works:
We use bar-coded inventory tags on our frames that slip onto the temple. In addition to the bar code, the tag shows the frame name, size, color, our date of acquisition, our wholesale cost (in code so it can’t be read by patients) and the retail price.
We prefer to use the frame off our board with each Rx order because it gives us more control on the job and prevents backorder issues. We will special order frames as well, but we have a large inventory of frames to choose from and a small amount of understock to replace sold frames.
When a frame is sold and sent to our lab, we remove the tag and place it in a tray.
Once per week, our office manager reviews the tags in the tray and removes any frames that we do not want to reorder. This may be a brand that we decided to drop, or a frame with a very old acquisition date, or a model that is highlighted with a yellow marker. We highlight tags in yellow while they are still on the frame board if we decide we do not want to reorder it.
After removing the frames we do not want, a staff member reorders all the other frames in the tray.
We reuse the inventory tags when the new frames come in.
Seeing reps for new styles
Seeing frame reps has proven to be very easy and quick with this new system and the reps like it because we buy frames sooner and always have a good representation on the boards. We see reps quarterly, which is less often than we used to see them. When a rep comes in, we generally have most of the spaces allotted to that line full. All that is needed is to look at the new styles since the last visit and exchange some frames that have been slow movers.
Here are some benefits we see with this system:
Even though we must exchange frames at times, our exchange rate is lower with this new method than it used to be. This is because we do not overbuy like we used to and then we would have to freeze our ordering to let us sell through. This would cause us to go too long between rep visits and we would have a lot of old inventory to get rid of.
Frame buying is more evenly distributed throughout the year so we see fewer big spikes in bills to pay.
The rep’s visit in our office goes much faster; generally less than 30 minutes.
Less understock is needed because we reorder so often.
We always have a nice selection within each frame line and we always have the hot sellers on the boards.
This reordering method is low tech and very accurate. It does not require that you use a frame inventory software system, although that can be a helpful adjunct. Talk to your frame reps and consider trying this system in your practice.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.