are a vital part of a practice’s revenue. Despite the shift in optometry towards a more medical model of practice, eyewear and contact lens sales are still the core of our practices. Improved vision is the primary reason patients come to see us and providing quality eyewear can set private practices apart from other commercial entities.
The importance of frame selection
Frame selection is important for both capture rate and profitability. In most practices, optical sales account for almost two-thirds
of revenue. If doctors are not a part of the frame selection process
, make sure the optician is armed with current best sellers and an inventory budget for best inventory management. Frame reps are helpful in presenting best sellers, but only you and your staff have a working knowledge of practice demographics. Key demographic areas should include gender, age, price point, and a balance in both frame materials and styles. You must select for the patient who wants a classic tortoise or something artistic and unique.
Best practices for frame buying
If you are just opening a practice or have bought a practice
, I would start with a smaller inventory of 300 or so frames and add as you gain a better understanding of patient buying habits. When purchasing frames, consider the demographics of your patient base; the goal is always to have something for everyone, but without unnecessary inventory sitting on your frame boards
. Industry standard is to base total inventory on inventory turn rate
and expected rate is 3x
in optometry.This chart represents the bare minimum frame inventory needed in an optometric practice.
This following chart represents the bare minimum frame inventory needed in an optometric practice.
My current favorite frame lines
While my current favorite lines change frequently, my current three favorites include: Europa Eyewear, Private Label by Sho, and 141 Eyewear.
1) Europa Eyewear
Europa eyewear is an American frame company with 9 distinct frame line offerings. Each frame line they carry has a unique look and price point. It truly is an eyewear company which has something to offer each patient in your practice. I believe you could carry only their frame lines and be a successful practice. Their company has demonstrated a commitment to both their frame reps and customers. Their company includes lines for women, men, children, sunglasses and high-end luxury eyewear. State Optical, Alan J, and American Optical are produced in Chicago, Illinois. Europa is the first company to produce luxury eyewear that is made in America. The quality of materials and construction is evident in these frames. All of their lines are great sellers!
Pros: Comprehensive selection of unique lines, great customer service, made in America eyewear, polarized sunwear
Cons: Some backorders, some lines are made in China
Price Point: $$ to $$$$
State by Europa Eyewear
Cinzia by Europa Eyewear
2) Private Label
A private label for your practice can be produced by Sho Eyeworks. The unique aspect of this line is that it can be curated by your practice towards your demographics and can reflect the name of your practice. Their line may help to retain customers from online purchases and can aid in marketing your practice out in the community. Your private label line can also include both polarized and non-polarized sunglasses.
Pros: Customized eyewear line without huge buy-ins, built-in marketing efforts
Cons: Less variety in frame style options, no exchange on private label frames
Price Point: $$
Private Label Sunglasses
3) 141 Eyewear
141 Eyewear was developed by a husband and wife team in Portland, Oregon. Each frame is named after a street in that region. 141, as a company, donates a frame to someone in need for each frame purchase. Your patients purchase a quality frame for themselves and are able to help someone else. We make sure patients are aware of the do-good aspect of their purchase.
Pros: Charitable donation, array of frame materials, core styles with frames for smaller faces, great people to work with!
Cons: Limited variety of colors and styles, few releases each year
Price Point: $$ to $$$
Best ways to display frames
is key for any retailer. Successful visual merchandising
reflects your brand, engages your customers, and increases your practice sales. Your displays should show the merchandise in an appealing way to tell each frame’s story. Women enjoy the retail experience and they typically make healthcare choices for their families.
Questions to consider when considering the merchandising in your practice include:
- What is the story behind your product? How can you display the story to your patients?
- What is the frame line known for? How can you demonstrate this?
- How can you set this line's presentation apart from others?
- Do you have enough POP (point of purchase)? Do you have too much POP? Do you lose the frames in all the POP?
- Does your frame arrangement encourage browsing?
Below is an image of the Christmas display at Autarchic Spec Shop.
Patients prefer to purchase when shopping and purchasing with you is a memorable experience. Your goal is to create a warm and inviting location with merchandise displayed in a manner to reflect the price of the frame and the frame line’s story. I prefer to display the luxury frame lines independent from the value lines.
In the display pictured below, the “A” with the crown represents our practice being located in the Queen City of Charlotte, NC. Also, a synonym of Autarchic is monarchy.
Strategies for patient frame selection
Most patients are unsure of what they want. Or, if they do, it's because they have seen the frames on someone else, but they may not be the best for their face or spectacle RX. We typically seat the patient and will pull a selection of 5-10 frames based on what the optician decides would look or work best on their spectacle RX. A selection of both color vs. neutral and frame materials should be included.
By having the patient try on the selection, we can ask what they like or do not like about certain frames. By weeding down the inventory, we save time and can better address patient desires and best matches for their prescriptions and lifestyle/occupation needs.
Considerations for insurance and billing
Practice owners must consider vision insurance plans
when purchasing inventory. Frames are not reimbursed at the same rate as they are billed. Whole frame prices should be considered when purchasing because VSP frame reimbursements are based on wholesale costs. Many optometry offices will carry frames that will be covered in entirety by the patient’s insurance, but keep in mind that if they are not covered, you will capture 80% or more of the frame amount overage (depending on state law on discounts). This can be important for your revenue per patient metric
Frame inventory selection
and merchandising are extremely important for your practice’s profitability and success. Revenue from product sales, including eyewear, compose 61%
of an optometric practice’s total revenue. It is vital to your practice success to understand your patients’ buying habits, your best sellers, and how they affect practice metrics, including inventory turn rate and revenue per patient.