What It Takes to Be Transitions Lab of the Year

By Christie Walker
Back in February, Transitions Optical Inc. named Diversified Ophthalmics the 2005 Transitions Lab of the Year. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Diversified was recognized during the 10th Annual Transitions Academy in Universal Studios, Orlando, Fla. before an international crowd of more than 1,000 industry professionals. Also in the audience were the other two finalists for 2005, first-time finalist Homer Optical of Silver Spring, Md. and the 2003 Lab of the Year, Toledo Optical, Toledo, Ohio.

What does it take to become the Transitions Lab of the Year? Turns out it’s not just one thing but a combination of education, events, and leveraging materials and educational opportunities provided by Transitions. 2005 wasn’t the first year Diversified Ophthalmics aggressively went after the Transitions Lab of the Year Award.

“Although we had supported Transitions for many years, it was 2002 when we decided that we would make it a company goal to achieve the award,” explained Shelby Kaylor, marketing coordinator at Diversified.

Diversified first set their sights on winning the Lab of the Year award in 2001 after attending the Transitions Academy. Upon returning home, the team decided to set a goal of becoming a finalist, which they achieved in 2004. Even without winning Lab of the Year, the benefits of participating were evident. “Each year that we strove to become Lab of the Year, our business experienced incredible growth,” said Ronald Cooke, Jr. Diversified’s COO.

Before Diversified implemented plans to increase their sales of Transitions lenses, Transitions made up 10 to 12 percent of their business. This was increased to almost 20 percent by the end of 2005.

“Our strategy was to give the eye care professional the tools to knowledgeably discuss the real benefits of the product to their patients through educational seminars,” said Kaylor.

“We also used our travel programs as an added incentive for promoting Transitions,” added Cooke.

Diversified built training requirements into their promotions and utilized unique locations and themes to add to the programs’ success. Off to the Races events were held at Keen Land Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. and at Cincinnati’s River Downs horse park.

“Our Lunch and Learn seminars included Transitions' training modules and our travel programs allowed our accounts to earn free trips through their Transitions' purchases,” explained Kaylor.

“It was a combination of all of our efforts that allowed us to be successful as a whole. Our programs were intertwined,” said Cooke.

“Because we focused on building upon each year, I can't say that any one program was more outstanding than another. It really was a combination of all of them. Our participation level grew with each program and year because of the continued commitment,” added Kaylor.

Over the past three years, Diversified conducted more than 600 training sessions, reaching over 1,000 professionals in hundreds of offices across 13 states, ensuring their accounts were equipped with the most up-to-date information. Leveraging the educational opportunities offered through Transitions’ Eye Didn’t Know That! program, Diversified made sure their accounts understood the importance of eye health and how offering Transitions to every patient, especially children, was a benefit.

Diversified not only participated in Eye Didn’t Know That! events in Cincinnati, Dallas and Pittsburgh, but also hosted their own eye health day.

One area Diversified focused on in 2005 was their communication with their accounts and in turn, their accounts communication with their patients.

“Through continually improving the knowledge of the product and its benefits to our accounts they were increasingly more comfortable in discussing the benefits to their patients,” explained Kaylor.

“We improved our accounts' knowledge of the benefits of promoting Transitions to their customers. This helped the eye care practitioner talk about the healthy benefits of Transitions as well as the practical benefits. Their patients realized the benefits of only having to have one pair of glasses for indoor and outdoor use,” added Cooke.

“We truly believe in the product and what it brings to not only our accounts but to their patients—new technology, healthy vision and increased profits from a premium product,” said Kaylor.

When it comes to advice to other labs as to how to become the next Transitions Lab of the Year, both Cooke and Kaylor agree, “Have fun with it!”

“Remember to communicate all the good reasons why Transitions will help your customer's businesses and you will reap the benefits yourself,” suggested Cooke. “All our hard work paid off with double digit growth over the previous year. But there’s no reason to stop now. We look forward to embracing the new Trusted Worldwide platform for this year. We’re ready to get started and earn a place as the first two-time U.S. Lab of the year winner in 2006!”

In addition to its 15th annual Lab of the Year award in the United States, Transitions recognized optical labs internationally with its third annual Lab of the Year in Canada, Brazil and Latin America. The winners included: Plastic Plus, Toronto, Ontario, Quality Lab, Sao Paulo and Servioptica, Bogota, Colombia.

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Labtalk November/December 2018