The Frame Game: Communication is Key

By Catherine Skelton
Technology... the list of advancements in our industry would be too lengthy to include in any publication. With each passing year the improvements in the products we work with, while amazing can be frustrating if the various segments of the industry are not communicating with each other.

If you talk to a lens specialist/bench person in a production wholesale laboratory they may tell you the “frame companies” never take into account that someday a lens will need to be inserted into this frame.

Some of the issues that have historically caused problems for the wholesale lab and the frame companies include:

● Materials — Does this frame have any special handling instructions? If so how should these be communicated?

● RX ranges —Are there limitations? If so what is the recommended “range” (-4.00 to +4.00). Are these range recommendations included in a “lab kit”?

● Lens Materials — Are suggestions for specific lens materials made? Along with these suggestions, are the reasonings surrounding them stated?

Jamie Shyer, executive vice president of Zyloware commented on these topics. “As far as our company is concerned, I feel there is strong communications with our lab partners. We do judge the needs of the market based on the feedback we receive from the management and sales representatives of the laboratories. We utilize a “lens specialist” who is an employee of Zyloware, a long standing licensed optician and our quality control manager, as our contact with the labs. His knowledge is invaluable to both our business and that of our lab partners.”

The communication between frame companies and the wholesale lab with regard to prescription range is more important than ever before. Our aging demographics has made the “premium lens package” more popular than ever. The costs of these lens styles and materials make this information imperative to keep “spoilage” to a minimum. Two of the largest frame companies selling to the wholesale laboratory, Eyewear Designs and Zyloware both offer factory “drill charts” with the ever-popular (and growing) three-piece mountings. Zyloware will often utilize specific “lab partners” in determing the prescription range for their three-piece styles by sending out rough samples prior to release. This information is then included in the release package to the labs when the style is ready for market release.

Eyewear Designs releases each style with feature and benefit sheets that give our customers the A-Z about each style including all special handling needs and functions. Andrea Gluck, co-president of Eyewear Designs, offered that this information has helped to strengthen the communication with their lab partners. Zyloware too, sends a special memo directly to each wholesale lab manager to ensure the proper person in the lab has a full understanding of any special needs with regard to handling.

Over the past several years the industry has benefited from the presence of the Vision Council of America (VCA). This organization is focused on all facets of the industry, frames, lenses, and contact lenses. Communication between the appropriate parties is an ongoing challenge.

VCA’s Andrea Gluck noted, “VCA grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak, when communication challenges came up and moved swiftly to try to move it along and improve the process. The VCA has several strategies in place to improve the line of communications.”

Gluck adds, “The OLA, which represents the wholesale labs, totally has an open door to the VCA. OLA representation has been at TOC (Total Optical Community) meetings for years and most recently because of the communication issue, several meetings have been organized at which VCA attended to hear decisions to work on and resolve this issue. VCA is committed to keeping communications wide open with OLA.”

The VCA frame division, chaired by Mike Hundert of REM Eyewear and facilitated by Donna Van Green have worked intensely over the past few months specifically to address the rimless initiative.

Suggestions to improve the Communication Channel

Be proactive! Access the most popular brands coming through your facility. Open a dialog with a representative from the frame companies. Opening this line of communication will enable you to better service your customer.

Request a “parts only” account number with these important frame companies. Ask questions. Do you offer a “lab kit,” any specialty tools, drill charts, special factory patterns, glazing and or handling instructions?

The combined effort of being proactive in establishing a line of communication with the frame companies on your own and taking advantage of the VCA’s efforts to bring the TOC together will serve to assist the frame companies and wholesale laboratories in working together as a dynamic force, offering exceptional service to the ECP and as a result, the consumer, with less stress for everyone.

Written by Catherine Skelton

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Labtalk-November/December 2017