Real Deal: The Case of the Overzealous Frame Rep

Overzealous frame rep causes problems

A new eyewear line is a big hit, but the frame rep is creating conflict

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2015 edition of INVISION.

It was early evening at Rouillard Vision Partners in Syracuse, NY, and the optical showroom was jammed.

“Have you tried on frames from the new Fareen line?” Doug gestured across the showroom floor at a bright, attractive eyewear display, and led a shopper to its mirror. “The prices are fantastic, and they also look great if you want to make them sunglasses!”

Just then Dr. Rouillard rounded the corner. When she saw Doug, her face got hot and her stomach dropped. She curtly stepped between Doug and the shopper and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, I need to speak with Doug for a moment.” They stepped quickly into an empty exam room.

“Doug, I have asked you before not to speak to my patients,” said Dr. Rouillard. “I know as our Fareen frame rep, you have sales skills and product knowledge. But you are not an employee and you don’t know company protocol.”

The rep took a defensive posture. “Leah asked me to come in,” he said. “I was rebuilding the board, and I thought I could help make a sale. Won’t happen again.” Doug grinned, a charming if disingenuous gesture. He left quickly.


Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual eyecare businesses and people.


Natalie Taylor is an experienced optometry practice manager for Advanced Care Vision Network and a consultant with Taylor Vision. Learn more at

Doug offered a great new line with exclusivity in the Syracuse area. After four short months, Fareen occupied 15 percent of the board space and accounted for 20 percent of non-economy frame sales. Doug recognized the impact he had, and his ego was fueled with the positive response — both from Fareen execs and the opticians at Rouillard Vision Partners. No frame rep had ever put so much energy into their practice.

After the last patient had left, Dr. Rouillard met with Leah to discuss her concerns.

“Leah, I’m not happy Doug was working with a patient today. He told me you asked him to come in,” said Dr. Rouillard.

“Not really,” Leah replied. “Last week a few of us were out after work for a drink and Doug showed up. I think one of the opticians has a crush on him, and she texted to say where we were. Anyway, I casually mentioned the Fareen board was looking tired. I definitely didn’t say, ‘Please show up on our late night when the office is the busiest.’”

“If it happens again, I need you to be the optical manager and ask him to leave. That message shouldn’t come from me,” said Dr. Rouillard.

“Well, it is kind of nice when he’s here. He always brings snacks or promo items for the opticians, and he’s a great salesman. I notice the other staff watching him and picking up skills. It’s like free CE,” Leah said.

“We have a strict policy not to accept spiffs. It isn’t fair to the non-optical staff,” said Dr. Rouillard.

“I really think the little treats motivate the opticians to sell,” replied Leah, though she knew it was a losing battle. She decided not to mention that Doug paid the group’s bar tab.

“As the optical manager, I expect you to motivate your team — without Doug’s help,” Dr. Rouillard replied.

But she was dubious Leah was up to the task of setting boundaries with Doug. Over the next few weeks, whenever Dr. Rouillard saw Doug in the office, she directed Leah to shoo him out. When he brought in presents for the opticians, she confiscated them, reminding everyone of the office rules. Doug started complaining to Leah and the other opticians that Dr. Rouillard hated him.

One day, Leah had news for Dr. Rouillard. “Doug is setting up other local offices with Fareen frames,” she said. “We will no longer be the exclusive provider in Syracuse.”

Dr. Rouillard was livid. Leah said, “I think his feelings are just hurt. He says you hate him.”

“He’s doing this out of spite?” Dr. Rouillard asked. “Unbelievable.”


1. Is Doug’s relationship with this practice professional? Why or why not?

2. How could Leah have functioned better as liaison between her employer and a frame rep?

3. What might Dr. Rouillard do differently to maintain office policy while keeping the peace?



Was Doug professional in his dealings with the clinic? The answer is no on many levels. The doctor and Leah need to call Doug in and have a meeting and set the clinic rules out for him. I would ask Doug to explain why we were losing the exclusive for the area on his product and what we would have to do to retain it. If he says it is because of how he was treated by the doctor, I would call his boss in on the conversation.

Austin, TX

Leah is being defiant in not following the office rules. She needs to be more creative with bringing the doctor and frame rep together. Suggest a trunk show, where the entire staff can be involved or set sales goals for opticians. Doug could come in and actually do a training session for the opticians, proving he can in fact be valuable to the practice.

Dyersville, IA

All parties were in the wrong. Offices and reps should have a partnership. The relationship should be of mutual benefit and respect. If neither party has it, then the relationship and the frame line is doomed to fail in the office.

Avon, CT

Too many times these kinds of reps ruin it for the other reps. They come on so strong and try to do too much. It’s tough to be the bad guy, but Leah does have to step up to Doug and lay down the law. Doug will then respect Leah, the staff and the office more and know they can’t be run over.

Danville, IN

The doctor should make sure that when a new rep or new line is brought into the office, the rep understands the office rules. Lay out what is expected of the rep and of the office staff from the get-go so everyone understands how it should work.


Doug is a sleazebag. His relationship with the practice is definitely not professional. Leah should also have respected the boundaries that Dr. Rouillard has set for the practice. As for Dr. Rouillard keeping the peace, she shouldn’t have to. Doug would be shown out the door at our office, exclusivity or not.


All gifts and food need to go to the whole office. Make it fun and fair for everyone. Sometimes, we will have a drawing when we don’t have enough for everyone, but the person who wins has his name removed. Once everyone has gotten something, everyone’s name goes back in the jar.