ECONOMY SCHMONOMY - CONSUMERS WANT THE MOST FOR THEIR MONEY

By Brian Lynch
Winchester Optical Company has been in business for 108 years. My grandfather started working at Winchester during the 1920’s, and the Lynch family took over full ownership in 1963. As with most companies, we have changed with the times—but one thing that has remained consistent is our commitment to our customers and our promise to provide the highest-quality products and services.

Earning the 2009 U.S. Transitions Lab of the Year title has been a remarkable honor for both myself and the entire Winchester Optical team. We have been firm believers in the Transitions family of products since Transition lenses were first introduced in the early 1990s—and have promoted Transitions lenses both as an ideal everyday lens option and as an opportunity for growth.

Despite the distressed economy, in 2009, we decided to raise our own bar and take our partnership with Transitions to a new level—with a goal of stimulating growth and boosting customer satisfaction. We focused on three main areas for growth: Transitions lenses, Crizal anti-reflective (AR) coatings and Varilux lenses. We were confident that even in the current economic climate, consumers would be willing to spend more on a product that did more for them, so we encouraged our customers to promote Transitions lenses alongside of other premium enhancements.

Throughout the year, we worked closely with Transitions to educate our customers on the benefits of bundling Transitions lenses with an AR coating. We also leveraged the marketing and promotional materials available to further engage and support our customers. As a result of all our initiatives, we saw an unprecedented 20 percent increase in sales of Transitions lenses—and achieved high levels of customer satisfaction.

One Staff, One Plan

Becoming the Transitions Lab of the Year has been a true team effort. Going into 2009, we made a commitment to Transitions lenses and made sure the entire staff was on board.

We have three full-time sales representatives and a great customer service team—all of whom have been instrumental in our success. Our sales team meets with key customers on a regular basis, providing them with education on the benefits of Transitions lenses, tips on how to position them to patients and tools for in-office use. On a day-to-day basis, we also rely heavily on our production team to churn out high-quality products and services for our customers.

We also continue to receive outstanding support from Transitions—and our account representative, Chad Ustazewski, has quickly become a member of our team. Through Transitions we had access to useful data to help us target specific practices with higher shares of Transitions lenses and identify opportunities for future growth.

The “WOW” Factor

Education is the foundation of our success. In addition to educating our staff, we offer extensive in-office training for our customers.

In 2009, our entire team participated in Transitions Learn & Earns and followed up with account tracking to measure performance. We also held several large seminars for our customers. In April 2008, we held our biannual “WOW” event—or Winchester’s Optical World—at our headquarters in Elmira, N.Y. Attended by approximately 200 industry professionals, the event served as a forum for educating on the hottest industry topics and trends. Transitions lenses played a key role in the event with influential speakers including: Transitions Optical’s Tim Fortner—who discussed benchmarks and best practices through his “Telling the Best Story” presentation, and Carol Schartner—who focused on delivering customer satisfaction. We have scheduled our next “WOW” event on Saturday, April 10, and plan on having Tim Fortner deliver his “Creating the Nothing-Left-To-Chance Experience” educational seminar.

Everyone Likes a Promotion

Once the eye care professional is poised to discuss Transitions lenses with patients, a promotion can help seal the deal. In 2009, we participated in all of Transitions Optical’s national promotions—which gave both consumers and ey ecare professionals a chance to win big. Through our own promotions, we aimed to amplify the return-on-investment for the eye care professional, and further incentivize our customers to promote Transitions lenses with an AR coating as the ultimate package.

In the first quarter, we leveraged the national exposure of the Transitions Championship For Healthy Sight and designation of Transitions lenses as the Official Eyewear of the PGA TOUR and held a “Stay the Course” promotion. Through the promotion, we offered our customers a chance to win cash prizes and tickets to an LPGA TOUR event for selling Transitions lenses with a Luxar or Crizal AR coating. We also sponsored a “Total Lens Solution” promotion in the third and fourth quarters, targeting a small number of accounts and encouraging them to promote the Transitions/AR package. From September through November, eye care professionals exceeding their goals were given monthly cash rewards.

Finally, we held an ongoing customer appreciation promotion to recognize and reward our top customers and thank them for their support.

The Sky Is the Limit

Regardless of the economy, we believe there is always an opportunity for growth. While we were, in one way, surprised by how much we were able to grow with Transitions lenses, in many ways it made perfect sense.

Transitions lenses are a great product with a strong return-on-investment for both our customers and theirs. If we continue to give the right tools to our customers—and they continue to position the product benefits correctly to their patients—the sky is the limit.

Meet the Transitions Lab of the Year Winners From Around the Globe!

Recognizing its global partners and thanking them for their continued support, Transitions Optical honored three finalists and named a 2009 Transitions Lab of the Year winner for each region.

BRAZIL: PSA Nilo Laboratório Óptico, Belo Horizonte City

PSA Nilo Laboratório Óptico is not a stranger to the Transitions Lab of the Year award—also earning the title in 2003 and serving as a finalist in 2007 and 2008. A long-time supporter of Transitions lenses, in 2009, PSA Nilo took its partnership with Transitions Optical to a new level and initiated several successful promotions and campaigns.

LATIN AMERICA: RyR Optilab, Guatemala After being recognized as a Transitions Lab of the Year finalist in 2008, RyR Optilab was hungry for the win and stepped up its game—making Transitions Optical its top priority in 2009. The lab went into the year with a strategy to educate and train its entire sales and marketing force to correctly position the healthy sight benefits of Transitions lenses—recommending them as the best, everyday primary lens option.

EMEA: Lenstec Optical Laboratories, The United Kingdom

Known for its commitment to providing the highest-quality products and services, Lenstec Optical Laboratories made Transitions lenses its number-one focus in 2009. With a goal of converting clear lens wearers to photochromic lenses, the lab’s 2009 strategy included arming its customers with the right tools to successfully promote Transitions lenses as the best everyday eyewear option.

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May/June LabTalk 2017