It’s too often espoused that in order to have a profitable optical practice you need to have a large inventory, which is often defined as at least 2,000 pieces. It’s obvious that the more frames you have in your inventory, the more frames you have to manage. Managing includes pricing accordingly, which when done properly is rarely “tag it and forget it,” displaying and merchandising effectively, monitoring for theft, and, of course, selling! Obviously, 200 frames are easier to manage than 2,000. Even with great inventory management software, having more frames means facing more management challenges.
Even if you were using the best inventory management software, never had theft problems, and were able to magically alter pricing without physically touching 2,000 frames, you’d still be, in our consulting company’s opinion, a poor frame manager. That’s because the data is abundantly and overwhelming clear that while you may have managed all of the previous tasks, your sales are sure to suffer!
Astute retailers, and in this case frame sellers and managers, will readily confirm that less is more. Given a choice of thousands of frames, overloaded by what they perceive as a sea of sameness and the ensuing tidal wave of temple bling, patients will often make the easiest choice: walking out of your practice. Retailing studies have consistently shown, be it mustard, shirts, or eyeglasses, that minimal, properly displayed inventory outsells racks and racks of product by a wide margin.
Manage your inventory to sell your inventory. Going deeper into one product line is a better choice than going leaner into
many product lines. When you carry fewer frames, each frame, or at least product line, can have its own story for your
selling team to relay to patients.
“This designer began his career by designing musical instruments when he was a teenager. He handcrafted his first frame out of a single piece of wood from the backyard.”
Contrast those stories with comments like, “This frame is made of plastic, and with your insurance will cost you $xx.” This type of curt, sales-motivated explanation is often the result of even the most experienced sellers being unable to convey a story because the frame they’re referring to is one of thousands.
Take the requisite time to be an astute product manager and reap the benefits of increased profits and happier patients.
GARY GERBER, OD
Gary Gerber is the founder and Chief Dream Officer of The Power Practice, a premier practice-building organization, and host of the live radio talk show about optometry, The Power Hour.