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The Pros and Cons of Consignment, and More of Your Questions




The Pros and Cons of Consignment, and More of Your Questions

I’ve been approached by a vendor to carry their frames on consignment. What are the pros and cons?

The good:

  • It’s a relatively low-risk way of quickly building inventory without tying up cash.
  • You can cover a weak product category with low risk.
  • The brand owner may provide marketing and display support.
  • Might be suitable for an OD-owned, limited optical practice.

The bad:

  • The returns are generally lower over the long run.
  • There may be contractual obligations regarding display and reordering. (Read the terms carefully.)
  • More paperwork and reporting.
  • You may surrender some control over the assortment in your dispensary.
  • Your business insurance provider may not regard them as your property, thereby possibly making you liable if they are stolen or lost in a fire or flood.
  • There are costs of holding any stock (training costs, cleaning, shrinkage) that you need to be aware of.
  • Because the returns are lower, you and staff are generally less interested in moving them — resulting in an underperforming stock category.

What is a small procedural tweak I can make that that will have big impact on my operations overall? 

Patient hand-offs — when the OD comes out of the exam room to pass the patient to the optician and start the sales process — is a critical operational point, but one that is often overlooked or handled perfunctorily. “When the doctor tells the optician that they discussed AR coatings, progressive lenses or polarized sunglasses with the patient — in front of the patient, it allows the sales process to happen in a quick, effective manor,” says Mike Rolih, formerly of Mirro, which provides employee training and marketing consultants for optometrists and independent opticians. “Your optician can say, ‘The doctor suggested you get X, Y and Z …,’ and the patient will then feel he is not being sold, but rather being treated by the doctor. This simple process can increase your second pair sales, sun sales, AR sales and progressive sales, and you don’t have to change a thing other than this step.”

Your experts have told us not to greet a customer with “How can I help you?” But today’s shoppers are programmed to deflect almost any question. What to do?

Simple: Stop asking questions that can be answered with “No, thanks” or “Fine, thanks” or a dismissive smile. Watch a great salesperson in action and you’ll notice she starts with statements:

  • “Hey there, you look a bit lost …” 
  • “Let me tell you what you are looking at …”
  • “That’s what we like to call a statement frame. Would you like to try on the most luxurious frame in the shop? It’s a lot of fun just to put it on!”
  • “You look like somebody who didn’t find what you’re looking for. Let me help you.”
  • “I love your bag (shoes, jacket, etc.) — what great style! Let me see if I can pick three frames that would be perfect for you.”

Obviously force of personality matters, but so does effort. Before approaching a customer, pay attention to her and then say something that shows her you’re paying attention. Shameless sincere flattery about the eyewear she’s already wearing or her outfit nearly always works.


To be sure, customers, especially ear-budded millennials, often want some time to just browse and explore by themselves. But for the most part, you’re limited only by your imagination.

I am going to redo my frame displays. How do get it right and not waste my remodel funds? 

Put the job up for bid. Contact several design companies and give them the challenge of accomplishing your display goals within your budget. “Quality firms are usually happy to help. But ask them what they suggest, don’t just tell them you want to order some frame boards,” advises display consultant Larry Johnson. “Take advantage of their expertise,” he advises.

How can I create emails to support sales better?

When it comes to email marketing, the idea is simple: Create content that inspires people to do something. In practice, coming up with that content on a regular basis can be hard. Start by carrying around a notebook, or jot things down in the notes app on your phone, so when you come across good ideas you will have them on hand when you’re looking to create an email. The best content marketing puts ideas in front of your audience that are interesting to them at time when they care. Add relevance by tying your emails into a topical issue (back-to-school, seasonal changes, a sporting event), and add urgency by including a small coupon. Let your personality and enthusiasms shine through. Don’t be afraid to be quirky, different or real. Monitor your open and click-through rates closely and follow what works.

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of INVISION.



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