Frame vendor and optician interactions; what’s cool? what’s not?

This post is adapted from an article written by Judy Cantry, who worked as an optician for 34 years and is now a frame rep.  This is her take on what is cool and what is not in relationships between frame reps and ECPs.  It was published in Eyecare Professional Magazine.

Here’s my view of what’s COOL and what NOT COOL.

COOL: Reps who make appointments.  This is a win-win.

  • As an ECP, I can schedule my day around any fixed appointments. I can choose how many reps to see and when I see them.

  • As a Rep, I can schedule my day to maximize my available time and of course, avoid burning fuel unnecessarily.

NOT COOL: ECP’s who cancel appointments as the Rep walks in the door.

  • As a Rep, I’ve scheduled my day to maximize my time and manage my expenses. I have multiple accounts to see and a finite number of hours in a day to see them. I understand that circumstances can change, but a quick phone call to cancel or reschedule would be greatly appreciated.

  • As an ECP, my day can go from 0 to Mach 1 in a very short amount of time. Patient eyewear emergencies, short staffed and equipment failures all seem to conspire to keep me off-schedule. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider how I schedule my Reps appointments; before working hours, a working lunch or the Doc’s day off.

NOT COOL: Reps who walk in the door with bags of frames and no appointment.

  • As an ECP, seriously? I don’t have enough time to eat lunch, much less spend an hour or two looking at new releases. At the very least, call and ask if I have time to see you. If I don’t, make an appointment.

  • As a Rep, you never know. Your office wasn’t on my list to see today, but I was close by. I’ll take your card and call for an appointment.

COOL: ECP’s who keep notes on issues to be discussed with the Rep.

  • As a Rep, I really appreciate that you took the time to make some notes for us. If there are problems, questions or other issues, I need to know about them. I’ll always come in with the latest information and your notes will keep us both on track.

  • As an ECP, small issues can build into large ones if I don’t keep track of them. If I write them down, perhaps a pattern will emerge and together we can address it. I’ll promise not to yell, if you promise not to “tap dance” around the issue.

NOT COOL: Reps who fail to follow up on problems or requests.

  • As an ECP, if it’s important enough to bring to your attention, it’s IMPORTANT! Believe me, I’ll keep you on track if it’s a problem and I’ll thank you if it’s a request.

  • As a Rep, failing to follow up is inexcusable. I’ll write it down, but sometimes I forget. You can yell at me. I deserve it.

COOL: ECP’s who value the business relationship with their Reps.

  • As a Rep, I have a vested interest in your success. By providing quality products and excellent customer service, I can make your day a little less stressful. Increasing your business will increase mine. Please draw on my experience and expertise; it’s an important part of what I offer as your Rep. A healthy practice is good for both of us.

  • As an ECP, I have to watch every dollar, especially in the current economy. I expect you to be honest with me about pricing, back orders, turnaround times and return policies. I also know that new technology is expensive. I expect to pay a fair price for quality and service.

NOT COOL: ECP’s who only order enough for the “gift with purchase”, the “complimentary lenses” or to use me to negotiate better pricing from someone else.

  • As an ECP, doesn’t everybody do this? It’s just business, right?

  • As a Rep, no, everybody doesn’t do this. A good business relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. The long-term benefits of a good relationship will far outweigh the short-term “gotcha.” I’m far more likely to keep my good accounts at the top of my list when a new program or benefit is available. If you need a favor, a rush job, a backordered frame, I’ll be there for you.

Make the most of your appointments.

  • Choose a day to see your Reps. You can maintain control of your schedule and it can become self-limiting, keeping you from trying to see everyone who walks through the door.

  • Communicate your needs when you make the appointment. If you only want to see new releases or a specific collection, say so. If there is a new product or service you need information about, say so. This allows your Rep to bring the right tools to the appointment.

  • Be prepared. If you are returning merchandise, have it separated, cleaned and ready to go. If you have questions about an invoice, have it ready and, if possible, make a copy for the Rep.

  • Be honest. If a line isn’t working for you or you need to change labs, explain why this is necessary. Reps need to know if there are issues that they can or cannot control.

  • Be considerate. If you can’t keep the appointment, call ahead and reschedule. Most Reps work on a 6-8 week rotation, so if you can’t reschedule for the same week, ask if information can be sent to you and then schedule your appointment for the next trip.

The relationship you have with your Reps doesn’t have to be an adversarial one. It should be a working partnership. Everyone will benefit.

1 Response to “Frame vendor and optician interactions; what’s cool? what’s not?”

  1. 1 Marsha Humphreys
    September 1, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Great article. I’m enjoying your blog

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About Arthur De Gennaro

My friends call me Art. Welcome to my blog. In this space you’ll find information and comments on the ophthalmology world, the optical industry, the hearing industry and medical practice management. My intent is to provide information you can use to improve your business and your own performance. Please visit often and feel free to join the discussions by leaving comments.

You can learn more about me and my consulting company, Arthur De Gennaro & Associates, LLC by visiting my web site www.adegennaro.com

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August 2009

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