Driven for Success. 2011 Transitions Lab of the Yea, Optical Prescription Lab Shares Winning Strategies

By Brian Conley, Marketing Director, Optical Prescription Lab
I guess you could have called us the Susan Lucci of the Transitions Lab of the Year awards. We were nominated four times over the past several years, but until 2011 we had never taken home the coveted title. So, when Optical Prescription Lab (OPL) was named the 2011 Transitions Lab of the Year this January during Transitions Academy, we couldn’t have been more excited.

Any of this year’s finalists and past winners will agree that becoming the Transitions Lab of the Year is not something that happens overnight. Transitions Optical has been a huge part of OPL for the past 15 years because we believe in the Transitions family of products and value the year-round support that Transitions Optical provides in terms of marketing materials, staff training and education. And while I am relatively new to OPL (I joined the lab in May of 2011), I could immediately feel the passion from the entire OPL team – and from our customers.

While our dedication to the Transitions brand goes far beyond the Transitions Lab of the Year title, I’m not going to deny that we were all hungry for a victory in 2011. In fact, if I could sum up our winning strategy in one word it would be “driven.” And I’m not talking about the kind of driven that lasts until a project or promotion is completed. I’m talking about being driven 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We knew we would be competing against the best in the industry, so we worked hard throughout the year to change our game plan and bring a whole new level of excitement to our everyday business. By the end of the year, our efforts had paid off. Not only had we taken home the Transitions Lab of the Year title – we were able to increase our share of Transitions lenses and remain profitable, despite a flat market.

Building Momentum: The Power of Education Education is like the engine of a car. Without it, you can’t go anywhere. And, the more powerful it is, the more ground you can cover.

We have always been fortunate to have outstanding relationships with our Transitions Optical representatives – to a point where we consider them part of our everyday team at OPL. Our current rep, Erin Michelotti, visits our lab regularly to provide updates on the latest products and programs from Transitions Optical. We share this information with every single one of our staff members to make sure everyone is up-to-date and is talking about Transitions lenses – in the right way – to our customers.

Twice a month, our sales and marketing team hosts in-office training sessions at different eyecare professional locations. We use this time to talk about everything OPL has to offer, from new products to ongoing promotions. During regular sales calls, we also make it a point to wear Transitions lenses so that our customers get a first-hand look at how quickly they deactivate and how clear they look indoors. Two of us usually go to a meeting – one wearing Transitions VI lenses and one wearing Transitions XTRActive lenses. This has been extremely helpful, since many of our customers still believe that Transitions XTRActive lenses are heavily tinted indoors. When they see us wearing the product and compare it to Transitions VI lenses – or any clear lenses – they are amazed to see how little of a tint there really is (and some can’t even notice it at all!).

Making it a Trip to Remember

When it comes to engaging our eyecare professional customers and really getting them excited about Transitions lenses, our marketing and promotional efforts take center stage. As a result of our year-long marketing strategy – the Performance Products Rewards Program (PPRP) – we were able to drive home the benefits of Transitions lenses to all of our customers.

Through the program, eyecare professionals were required to sell a minimum of 40 pairs of qualifying, premium packages per month – with Transitions lenses being a part of five of the nine packages. With each sale, they were able to accumulate points that could be redeemed for practice-building rewards including $15 coupons, iPads and televisions. Results were so strong; we even added a prize and sent three of our top customers to an all-expenses-paid trip to Vision Expo West.

While we were thrilled with the results. We realize we never would have achieved them without a strong mix of education and follow-up. We helped our customers track their successes throughout the promotion period by sending monthly reports and paying regular, in-person visits to let them know their standings and how they could improve their sales.

Taking full advantage of marketing materials and programs from Transitions Optical also played a big role in our strong 2011 results. For example, we used the Transitions Online Marketing (TOM) tool to roll out many of our programs – creating personalized flyers and in-office promotional pieces. We also included the Transitions Certificate of Authenticity with each pair of Transitions lenses sold. Distributing the COA really helps our customers – and theirs – know they’re getting the real deal. Plus, with each registration, they have a chance to win additional prizes and make a donation to a charitable organization through the Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund.

Taking Detours

Even the best, most concise plans are often changed suddenly as a result of new opportunities or unforeseen road blocks. I like to say when life hands you a “rocky road,” do your best to turn it into ice cream.

We experienced a significant road block in April 2011 when 55 tornadoes hit the state of Alabama – something that had a huge impact on many of our customers from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa. Natural disasters always have a way of putting everything into perspective. We immediately shifted our focus and dedicated our resources to help the victims in our area – many of whom had lost or broken their eyeglasses. We reached out to our eyecare professional customers, who also were anxious to help in any way that they could. We set up a 1-800 number – which was promoted by local FOX and ABC news affiliates – that disaster victims could call to schedule a free eye exam and get a new pair of glasses. OPL provided the frames and lenses free-of-charge.

In total, we were able to help more than 100 tornado victims. Everyone under the age of 25 received Transitions lenses automatically, and those over 25 had a choice of Transitions lenses or regular, clear lenses – with more than half choosing Transitions lenses. Beyond helping the tornado victims, we were also able to build stronger relationships with our eyecare professional customers, who were in turn able to expand their practice with new life-long patients.

Fueling Up for Our Next Adventure

Winning the 2011 Transitions Lab of the Year title was the culmination of hard work, dedication and conviction on behalf of the entire OPL team. But while we are all still celebrating our 2011 victory, we have yet to lose momentum for a successful 2012.

While we’re planning to stay true to what has worked – including the continuation of our points promotion – we also have a few surprises in store for our staff and customers. One thing I can say is that Transitions Optical will continue to be a big part of everything that we do.

About OPTICAL PRESCRIPTION LAB

Since 1977, Optical Prescription Lab (OPL) – headquartered in Pelham, Alabama – has operated as a family owned independent laboratory. From its beginnings as a small, local optical lab in downtown Birmingham, OPL has become an advanced, highly -capable lab that provides premium optical products to eyecare professionals throughout the southeast. To learn more, visit www.OpticalPrescriptionLab.com.

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