New frames and dogs should be an impulsive decision, no matter how cute they are. It only takes a moment of giving in before you’re hiding frames in the lab and there’s a Great Dane in your studio apartment.
You can train your inventory to consistently fetch a profit. Like a puppy, this takes more work in the beginning so it doesn’t bite you later. The payoff is worth the work- your inventory costs will mirror sales to keep your cash flow more consistent. You’ll spend less time choosing new frames and completing returns. Planning your frame boards means patients will always have the selection you’ve curated.
The tool that you can use to do this is a core list- a selection of frames you’ve chosen to stock and reorder. Your best sellers will be in on the boards, streamlining the sales process for opticians.
These are the steps to a well-behaved inventory:
- Determine your ideal frame mix
- Decide your inventory goals
- Choose your vendor partners
- Create a core list for your frame lines
- Reorder the frames you sell
- Track sales and update core regularly
Determine your ideal frame mix
Don’t think of brands at this point- think of the patients in your office, or a patient base you would like to serve. Avoid the temptation to only think of what staff likes to wear. Do you need classic, sporty, crazy, value, trendy? Don’t get too bogged down in this step; you will refine your selection over time.
Decide Your Inventory Goals
It’s time to count- how much room do you have for frames? How many do you REALLY need? Your patients should see you have an assortment of frames without overwhelming them. Each board space is an investment in money and time. Allot each category from step #1 an appropriate amount of your total. Don’t forget to save board spots for frames you are selling off.
Choose your vendor partners
Consider service, brands or style, and discounts offered. Look at your categories- can you use a vendor to supply multiple lines? This will save on shipping costs and give you more negotiating power. If you are using a buying group, use their vendors to streamline this step. Pair your selected brands and styles to your patient demographics.
Create a core list for your frame lines
It’s time to get to the fun part- curating your inventory choices for the next six months. Start with your fastest moving lines. Work with your reps to decide on the best frames, in an assortment of styles. Repeat this process until you have a core list for all the collections you are going to carry. Keep your core lists where everyone can access them. Your reps should have a copy of your selections. Make sure your reps know you want notification if something is on a long backorder or phasing out.
Reorder the frames you sell
The magic happens at this step- you have confirmation you picked a winner! Set up a system so you reorder the exact frames on your core list until you are ready for the next update. Six months seems to be the perfect time. After that long, there’s new releases and a sales history that’s long enough to see results. Patients coming in for yearly exams will always see a fresh styles on the board.
Track sales and update core regularly
You can either track your own sales, or rely on your rep. Keep the best sellers at your biannual update and choose replacements for the rest. Typically, about a third of your pieces will need changing after six months. Compare sales and replace frame lines that aren’t selling on a regular basis. Track any patients you aren’t capturing and determine there a look or price point you can add to keep them in your office.
Give yourself a treat if you’ve made it this far! It takes about a year to truly train your inventory to work for you, but it’s worth the effort.
Tips for creating your core lists
Place your frame choices together to make sure you have a cohesive brand assortment. Save your list of choices as your core list, including the sizes and colors. Stocking at least two colors per style will minimize ordering frames for patients to try. Have at least a few vibrant or patterned frames in each collection to draw patients in.
Some useful details you might want on your core lists:
- When frames were last updated
- Styles removed at the last update
- Rep contact info
- List price
- Images of the frames you’ve chosen