This final installment of my series on frame board management will focus on which frame brands and models to choose for your inventory. If you use a frame board management work sheet as described in part one of this series (Tip #732), you can divide your current inventory into four divisions as shown below. It is important to have some representation in each of these categories.
The high end
You want to have some beautiful luxury frames for patients who want the best and have the financial ability to buy it. These frames may not sell as quickly as the others, but they are very profitable on a per unit basis. It can be hard to know what retail price point is the high end in your practice. You might assume it is $X dollars, but you could be underestimating your market. The only way to be sure you hit it correctly is to stretch a bit and test a price point higher than what you previously thought was the maximum. When I did this in my practice, I found the high end was much higher than I realized.
You may have to accept some sales policies that are different than the ones you are used to with the major frame companies in our industry. Exclusive upscale brands may specify a minimum order, minimum stock on hand, no discounts and no exchanges. For many ODs, those tough policies are enough to make them give up, but I urge you to be flexible and make an investment in a truly high end line. If it does not sell well, you can mark it down and get rid of it, but if you never try, you will never know what your high end is.
The low end
Possibly even more important than high end frame lines is the low end. If possible, we do not want patients to take their eyeglass Rx to go, and having a great selection of cool styles that are affordable will often do the trick. You should train your staff to not start with this value line when showing frames, but it should be there if you need it. You can segment the low priced frames from the rest of your inventory somewhat, but I would not give the impression that these frames are inferior or low status by making them hard to find. They are good frames because your practice would not carry junk.
Here are some sources for value priced frames:
Value priced frame companies. There are several good ones in our industry that sell good quality products, with a warranty, in stock for immediate shipment. These companies have frames that are extremely low price or moderately low. The styles in the moderately low price range are very up to date. These may have a brand name or no name, but they do not have the expensive licensed brands. An important feature with most of these companies is that they list the frames at fairly high wholesale price in the Frames Data book, but offer very strong discounts to your practice.
Closeouts. There are many frames from the major companies, including designer lines, that are soon to be discontinued (or already are) and they are marked down to sell fast. These closeout frames offer very good prices for current styles and name brand recognition, but you must be willing to buy deep in each model, size and color. You and your staff must also accept the fact that you may not be able to reorder replacement frames or parts for repairs. Some offices make it clear at the time of sale that the frame has no warranty and others will select a new replacement frame and make new lenses in the few cases that have a problem. I recommend you let your frame reps know that you are interested in closeouts.
The unique lines
There are many high quality, beautiful frame lines that have a brand name that is not well-known to the consumer, which can be a good thing. These lines may not be available online, in big-box stores or from national optical retail stores. These frame companies often offer unique styles and colors that are not the run of the pack. You can differentiate your practice by offering a nice selection of unique brands that are tailored to the segments of your market from funky to conservative.
The name brands
Some optometric practices simply refuse to carry the major frame brands in our industry, including some of the best known designers in the fashion world. The reasoning is usually that the frame buyer does not want to carry frames that are sold in local shopping malls. Some are also trying to make a statement against vertical integration in the optical industry. To each his own, but based on how well these brands sell in my practice (and at very strong margins), that could be a mistake. The truth is that most of our patients do not shop for frames at the mall or online. Most fully intend to buy their glasses at my office when they make the appointment. We help them do that by giving them what they want and a large segment of our market loves those brands.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
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