Employee Personal Eyewear Policies

The Optical Journal - Optical News With Independent Views
Photo: triporiginator.com

Last summer, I had a discussion with an OD on his staff personal frame policy. His policy was all personal frames had to be approved first and paid for in advance and no discount for friends and families. The problem was his ex-wife that worked at the office, took advantage of him and was constantly ordering personal frames for her husband and family and not paying for them. This sets a bad example for other staff and could lead to a morale problem. He asked me what to do.

Personal frames and lenses are one of the biggest perks of the eyecare professional. It is important that staff wear up to date products, because if they wear them, they will sell them, all good… but like every policy they can be abused.

The problems if you don’t have a policy in place:

  1. Staff buys glasses at discount and resells them on sites such as ebay or Amazon.
  2. Front office has better connections for discounted products and may not be fair to back office staff.
  3. No policy makes it easy to steal.. or ‘pay later’ and you have no recourse if no written policy in place.
  4. Friends and Family can take up a lot of time with no profit.
  5. Tracking can be a challenge and if too many frame/lenses are ordered, how are they paying for them ? Frames come in, employees pick up their ‘personal, friends and family eyewear and do not let anyone know.. Ergo, someone has to pay..
  6. Employees start ordering from rep (taking advantage of rep) for both friends and family. You are paying taxes and shipping, fabrication, rent.. plus the accounting.

Here are some policies from various eyecare professional offices taken from various friends and forums. OptiBoard, Luxury Eyewear Forum, ODs on Facebook…

Some offices set a limit on how many personal frames a staff can order.

We are in the retail business so I decide what frames and lenses we want our staff to wear, then buy them for them! My goal is to have me and the staff wearing what we want to promote; we are all wearing Maybach frames now with Xtractive non-glare lenses in a drill. We also all have Maui Jim RX sunglasses, Lindberg’s and others in every new lens we want to try.

The glasses we all wear are more important than the one’s on display boards! I am so glad to read that others hinder the process that we promote. We also have employee’s wear black slacks and shirts, so we purchase them for them to ensure they are consistent. It is all part of the cost of goods and it works for us.

Place I work now gives employees glasses at “cost” plus a small %. But the cost is full wholesale and I know we get lenses for over 30% less the wholesale with our discount.

We get 2 “Free” pair per year. The optical shop will pay for any two frames and lenses. Of course, they consider the “Free” pair that the lab comps us as being part of this. There are no exclusions, as long as it is a line we carry and any lens(es) that are available from the lab to order.

If we purchase additional pairs of glasses it is done at cost. If we want a discount on the frame we just call the rep up who gives us a % off of wholesale. Same applies to lenses from the lab. For family they get at cost or cost + 20%.

I know there are certain labs , say lab H that invoices at cost, and at the end of the month takes a certain % off our total. So for family and the like, we will use lab C that takes the % off right on the invoice to keep costs down for those that are actually paying.

At times a rep will comp some one a frame for free, and give vouchers for lenses. Our boss once tried to get a co worker to pay for a frame that was given by a rep for free, as she had already “Used her 2 free pair”. Drives us nuts sometimes. In our office we aren’t really petty over one person getting something free. We have a “thats awesome for them” and “Wow, that was really nice of the Rep to do that” attitude, versus “Why didn’t I get one too?”.

The doctors we employ get whatever we want them to have. (Usually 2-3 clear 1 sun).

Employees get 1 clear and 1 sun annually. Also anything they negotiate outside of those 2 with any reps they can purchase.

Outside the “free” eyewear, they can purchase anything else they’d like at wholesale, not after extra discount on wholesale…as Ownership puts it – you get 2 free and infinity at wholesale, don’t gripe about it just because I get a 20% frame discount or whatever, it’s my business ‘ discount which had to be earned.

Immediate family get 50% off all retail. Extended family get 50% too

We allow one pair per employee, per year at 60% off. Same for spouse and children. After the first pair, 50% off.

When I took over my optical this fall I snagged free lens vouchers and discounted frames for all the techs/front desk girls. They are the first people to interact with potential eyeglass customers when people arrive in the office and are being worked up for their exams. If the girls up front are happy they will tell the patients as much. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Our official policy is one pair per year, all employees, medical and optical. My policy for my optical staff is make what you like, within reason, granted I only have 5 direct employees, so it’s pretty easy for me manage it. The girl that works with me doesn’t need correction so I buy plano AR lenses and put them in new styles she likes, and she wears them off the rack to match her outfit that day. They also show better to the patients with the AR lenses in them. Family is done at 50% off retail.

Official policy is: 2 pair glasses OR contact lenses per year at 50 percent off. No discounts for family other than the “20 percent insurance discount” we give our patients. I say “official’ because the optical employees get vouchers from our outside lab once in awhile. And its always okay to ask the boss/Dr. if its okay to purchase glasses for my son at cost. If he says okay, then its okay. Taken on a case by case basis. But offical policy is 50 percent off.

would suggest 1 pair dress and 1 pair suns per employee per year at no charge so that their eyewear remains current and reflects your practice. You must ok the order before it’s placed and be notified when it is dispensed. A copy of pertinent invoices should be kept in your employee’s personnel file.

Who gets eyewear at cost should be a part of your office policy manual and be explained in simple terms to family members, yours and staff alike. When family members order and receive eyewear they should also be given a copy of the pertinent invoices for their home files and taxes. It keeps every one honest and aware that you are required to pay and so should they.

Where I use to work, the owner had to approve all employee purchases. The order needed to be presented to the owner and the glasses needed to be given to him prior to delivery.

I give my family members the actual invoice for the frame and lenses. They all know that I never make a nickel on any of them. I jsut don’t want it to cost me anything. If they try anything funny, they’re buying the prime rib for Christmas!

Where I work and all orders must be payed in CASH before being ordered. It’s a fairly simple process and avoids all the confusion, you would not believe how many orders will just sit there because they don’t want to pay for it this paycheck.

One comped pair a year is also fine with the rest at cost. Family members and friends of employees don’t need to get that kind of discount. Fifty percent off the total bill is about right. If your employees skirt around the payment issue than the requisite office memo regarding policy is in order. All employee and family purchases go through you. Payment will be expected upon delivery. Employee purchases will be deducted from their next paycheck. That should do the trick though they may whine about it for a while. Now, regarding your parents. Don’t charge them, they didn’t charge you. However there is nothing wrong in setting limits. Unfortunately injecting change into your normal “I’m a doormat, please step on me” office protocol isn’t going to be easy. But without it things will only get worse.

I would immediately purchase a POS system and start a new company policy regarding employee eyewear. Additionally I would not give family members (aside from spouse or children) free product. 50% off full retail for employee’s relatives and friends is already generous. The cost to run your practice is very real. Giving away product at what you think it costs (invoice value) is actually less than your actual cost.

Every employee should have a form that they fill out stating exactly what they are ordering. Before the order is placed, it must be approved by an office manager or if that is you, then by you. Nothing can be ordered till approval. Once the glasses are received you or the manager will deliver them to the employee and $$ would be paid at the time of delivery. No money at the time of delivery, to bad!! The invoice and also the approval form should be placed in the employee file so that it can be monitored.

All sales reps should be aware of your policy so that people are not ordering anything behind your back. Even if the Reps are giving stuff away to your employees for FREE, you need to know about it and a form needs to be filled out.

1 FREE pair of their choice per year for them. Then limit them to another 3 or 4 pair for the rest of the year that they pay for. They can get whatever it is they want, even if it is not for themselves.

We allow one free pair up to $300 cost of frame and lenses per year and cost for any others for staff.  Immediate family members at 30% off.

We allow one free pair for each staff member- sun or ophthalmic.  If they want to buy additional pairs they pay cost (including tax & shipping) + 15% Family members Exam and Optomap No charge, materials  cost (including tax & shipping) + 30% for one pair per year.  All orders must be approved by Dr and Office manager. (Harue Marsden)



SILMO PARIS 20-23 September 2024