End of Year Newsletter! – 2017

Please Welcome Our New Board Members

Austin Chadderdon, Director of The Board

I have been at Eyecare Associates in Marshalltown since 2014.  I enjoy finding creative solutions to make our optical more efficient so I can better serve our patients and practice. It is exciting to develop relationships with our guests and exceed expectations for their visual needs while looking and feeling great in their eyewear.  The optical industry is a wonderful career path that I am thankful to be involved with. I was excited to gain my ABO Certification in November of this year! In my free time I play guitar and sing at local venues, golf and recently completed my first and second half marathons.  I have a mini bulldog, Iggy.  She isn’t the best running partner–but great company nonetheless.

Daniel Poe, Director of The Board

Daniel is an University of Iowa graduate and has been recognized as a Certified Optician by the American Board of Opticianry. He joined Eye Designs in 2016 as Optical Manager. Since then he has worked hard to update the optical and grow their business. Daniel joined the board in 2017 and is looking forward to network with ECPs across the state and participate in expanding the member and knowledge base for the betterment of Iowa opticians . Fun Fact: Daniel is an avid board game player and an accomplished balloon artist!

Why You Should Consider Becoming ABO Certified

By Daniel Poe, ABOC

A certification from the American Board of Opticianry is not required in all states. It is only required in 23 states, Iowa not being one of them. So why should we spend our time and money on becoming certified? For one, it shows to the industry that you are qualified and competent. It proves you take pride in your profession and in maintaining up-to- date skills and knowledge. The ABO exam is a baseline of knowledge and skills that an optician should possess- a professional distinction. It is a standard of competence and it provides opportunities for increased earning power and job opportunities. Telling your employer that you deserve a raise because of your job performance is one thing, showing a measurable standard by possessing your ABO certification is another. It is not a state standard, but a national one, which means that if you happen to move, you will be recognized in that state as well. At Eye Designs in West Des Moines, I take considerable pride explaining to patients that all four of us are certified opticians and that Joe from grocery isn’t handling their order today. That is key, because to the consumer, they have no idea what ABOC stands for behind their optician’s name or that there is a certification for an optician to earn. Your doctors should highlight this in their conversation with patients “"We have excellent board-certified opticians in our optical area. I hope you will work with them because then I will know you are getting the best optical quality and care in producing this prescription.". That extends the trust and respect that the patient has for the doctor to you in a powerful way. Lastly, the American Board of Opticianry requires you to take continuing education to maintain your certification. Often your labs and the Iowa Optician’s Association provide access to fantastic instructors free of charge to you (and maybe free dinner too) to assist you in obtaining the necessary credits. These credits range from technical aspects of our industry to marketing and branding, constantly keeping you informed and better educated to serve your patients. If being ABOC is so great, then why isn’t everyone certified? There are a lot of reasons, but one of the most cited is that taking the test is a big commitment and stressful. Lucky for you, at this year’s conference on April 7, Bob Russo  is teaching an ABO prep course which will be a fantastic resource for you in your journey to become ABOC. Most prep courses range from $150- $300, but our board values education and will be taking a majority of the cost on, making the class an affordable $80!

Love at First Sight

By Austin Chadderdon, ABOC

  A patient tells me she is concerned about the effects of her screen life on her eyes, from the eight hours of work at a desktop to the additional evening hours (more than she would like to admit) on Facebook, Insta, Snap, Pinterest etc. She also tells me she wants thin and light lenses, a great Crizal no-glare and Transitions.  The result, I want to give her a hug--or hire her.

  This is an educated consumer. The modern version of your grandpa kicking the tires of every Buick he can find before making a decision.  But, how many of our patients are this informed or interested in the details of their eyewear? And if they aren’t who’s fault is it?  

iPhones Used to Cost $99

  There is probably enough blame to go around, but the most prevalent and favorite villain of any ECP would be the duplicitous online retailer.  The "in-and-out opticals" of the world following close behind.  

 Warby Parker is 47th on CNBC’s “Disruptor 50 List” released earlier this year.  The company founded in 2010 is valuated at $1.2 billion by CNBC and took in $220 million in 2016 doubling its $110 million mark in 2015.   Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, likes to tell the story of how he decided to take on the optical industry.  He lost a pair of glasses as a college student while backpacking as he tells The Atlantic.

“They were Prada glasses, simple metal frames, and they fit my face well. I had gone to my optometrist, been given my prescription, and then looked at the frames out in the front in their office, and I just chose one—I had never stopped to think about why glasses were so expensive. When I lost those, I needed a new pair, and it was at a time when I also needed a new phone. The iPhone 3G had just come out, so I went to the Apple store, and I paid $200 for one. It did all these magical things that people couldn’t have even contemplated a few years earlier. That made me start thinking about why I was being asked to pay $700 for a new pair of glasses. Something just didn’t compute.”

  This is an effective anecdote that clearly resonates with people. More so, it makes one nostalgic for the days when an iPhone cost $200.  It is true Gilboa could have paid $199 for the iPhone 3G, which had just been released the Summer of 2008.  $199 would have gotten him 16GB of storage versus, $299 for 32GB or just $99 for 8GB.

  You’re asking yourself, “What does online eyewear have to do with 2008 iPhone prices and storage options?”

 Options IS the answer.  

  Just as Gilboa had choices in the quality of phone he purchased he surely had options when he was at his eye doctor’s office.  A couple months later he may not have been happy with 16GB,  because after downloading some music and taking photos it was full.  Many are probably having similar buyers remorse with Warby Parker.  The difference is that Gilboa had options at the Apple store and his optometrist--with Warby Parker the choices are less extensive.  This exposes both a challenge and an opportunity.

  The challenge is that our patients’ views on the importance and complexity of their eyewear is being diluted by the simplicity of the online market.  We know glasses aren’t a commodity like iPhones--do our customers? Nevertheless, I think the opportunities are greater and far more encouraging.

  If you are sitting face-to-face with a patient, what would drive them to an online retailer rather than make a purchase that day in your office?  Is it more convenient?  You wouldn’t think so because he/she is already in your office, there is a great selection of frames and an expert like yourself to guide them.  Maybe they have to get back to work, pick up the kids, can’t see well because of dilation or they’d rather do the thing at home in their Spongebob slippers, a glass of vino and zero pressure.  

  How can you deliver the experience they are looking for and keep their complete eye care in house?  You could send them home with some frames to get input from friends (like Warby’s program).  Or you could direct them to your online optical store where their RX and PDs are already available along with frames recommended based on face shape, eye size, bridge and temple length.  The patient finds a frame they like and can see if it’s available in your physical space or can order it to the practice to see.  They can even instant message the optical staff with questions.  During the time on your online shop they are being offered fun, attractive and interactive information about the technology they should have in their lenses--the real meat of glasses.

  Your practice doesn’t have an online store or virtual fitting site?  Why not?

  More than anything else it is most likely comes down to price. We circle back to options.  You may not want to lead with your complete eyewear package for $69.  But the patient should know you have it before they walk out the door. Of course we should always recommend premium products as the solution to the patient’s visual and health needs.  But they should also know you can match, beat, or come close to the prices they are seeing online and if you can’t, why. It is a delicate dance.

  In the early stages of Warby Parker the pulling point was that eyewear is a great fashion accessory and frames shouldn’t be so expensive.  Frames should be comfortable, fun (if you want), they should be representative of who you are.  We know glasses are more than frames.  As ECPs we know the real juice is in the lenses. Only secondary to having a complete analysis of the patients’ eye health and detailed communication with his/her additional health providers.  

  Warby Parker is learning the predecessor to Eyewear is Eyecare.

  Warby has 62 physical locations in the US (probably more by the time you read this).  The company is now offering “Comprehensive 20-Minute Exams” at 13 locations and has contracts with eight insurance companies (Eyemed, VSP, Davis, BCBS, UHC, Cigna, Aetna, Humana) and also taking HSA/FSA plans.  Extending beyond the convenience of home online shopping Warby Parker has developed a brand and experience that independents can’t ignore--and shouldn’t.

   So, in a way Warby Parker is realizing it needs to become more like us by offering some form of actual eye care.  And there are lessons we can learn from them too.  The experience is really important--understanding our patients as consumers is really important.  The difference is we have a big head start and far more to offer--we just need to do a better job of making that clear to everyone else.  


Jill Morrison and her husband Bob. Jill served Pech Optical for nearly 25 years and retires this year.

 By Andrea Dalton

   No more alarm clocks, early mornings and icy winter driving for Pech Optical's outstanding and dedicated representative. The Opticians Association of Iowa would like to congratulate Jill Morrison on a new chapter in life--retirement.

  I can personally say that Jill will be dearly missed by myself and everyone that had an opportunity to encounter her.

  Jill worked at Pech Optical for 24 and a half years. One of her favorite memories was a trip to San Jose with Bob Pech and several other employees.  Bob recalls all the turmoil Jill caused,  "She knocked out a window on the third floor, illegally picked sea shells and stood up on a view ride over water."

   Bob laughed every minute of that trip and knew he had found a dear friend.  He loved going to dinner or lunch with her because that meant dessert rather than a meal.  Bob said it right, "You can't find a better girl than Jill.  She is a true person who sincerely wants to help others.  A first class lady."

  It was a humbling and educational trip for her.  Jill knew she had landed her dream job and was aware she was working with a true visionary in the optical field.

She will miss her accounts and everyone at Pech.  Jill cherished and devoted herself to her accounts.  They grew into wonderful friendships.

  Jill plans on relaxing for a few months before finding a part time position.  She would like a little break to enjoy leisurely drinking her coffee and reading her daily devotions.  She and Bob look forward to short trips.  They are true Iowans who enjoy the Winter in Iowa.  We wish Jill and her husband the best!

  Thank you for all the years you have supported opticians in Iowa, Jill!

My Mission Trip with iCare 

By Andrea Dalton

  I recently went on a mission trip with iCARE to Jamaica.  Clinics were set up in Duncans, Trelawny and Brompton, St. Elizabeth.  Overall, 3,864 people were helped by the dedicated volunteers.  There were 38 cataract procedures performed, 355 custom made glasses were made and thousands of donated glasses were dispensed.

  It was an enriching and humbling experience for me.  My standout moments were watching a 9-year-old help from start to finish make her and father's glasses.  Also, an 83-year-old woman was able to see distance and read for the first time in a very long time.  Both child and woman were high hyperopes with 2 diopters of cyl.

  I'll leave you with my favorite quote, "It's important to give back to the profession that has given so much to you."

  If you get the chance there are many ways to help locally, nationally and internationally.

So You Want to Throw a Trunk Show...Or...How to Do it Without Crashing and Burning

By Daniel Poe, ABOC

  On Paper, a trunk show is the perfect plan.  A rep brings in all their product, your opticians are bright-eyed and busy tailed, you have cookies and wine, and you make thousands of dollars.  Because if you build it, they will come, right??

  Unfortunately, as many reps will attest to, that is simply not the case.  A trunk show, as cliche as it sounds, is an iceberg.  The tip is the day of the event and the 90% that remains is the six months of work it takes to pull it off.

These steps are what worked for Eye Designs in West Des Moines:

1) Pick a Date

  • It needs to be at least 4-6 months away
  • It needs to fall on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday
  • Mondays are the worst and Friday everyone has plans for the weekend
  • The schedule needs to be relatively empty and have most, if not all, your doctors working

2) Pick a Theme

  • Pairing and theme to food goes over well
  • Tacos, Ice Cream, Donuts, Coffee, Cupcakes, Avocado
  • Think of how you would decorate and market what theme you pick
  • Eye Designs picked donuts, hoping that the popularity of Hurts Donuts would get people to at least stop in.  There were donut decorations everywhere!
  • Classy and elegant themes-even if you have great deals, it might have patients lose interest thinking that it is too expensive for them

3) Pick a Time

  • A trunk show can span over several days or fall on a single day. 
  • Eye Designs opted for one full day, staying open later one hour.

4) Pick a Frame Representative

  • Must have something for everyone, but especially for ladies
  • Must fit your theme's vibe (Jimmy Choo probably isn't the best fit for a casual messy donut party)
  • Local is preferred.  If you can't get a rep from your neck of the woods, it makes it easier on them for a long day, travel, hotel, and if they don't end up selling a lot of frames it is less of a financial burden on them.
  • One rep to rule the show.  Don't split up the rep's profits, don't make it a competition

5) Get Everyone on Board

  • Eye Designs held a supervisor meeting, explained the date, time, and theme of the vent and asked everyone to help make it a major event
  • Front desk blocked out the schedule for that day only allowing routine exams and emergencies to be booked, as it came closer to the vent, they encouraged routine exam to book on that day explaining there was to be a fantastic sale that they could take part in.
  • Techs started creating a list of favorite patients that the optical could personally invite to the show
  • Lab reps contributed prizes for a raffle and gave discounts on lenses for that day, hopefully able to stop by and help if need be
  • Frame rep supplies marketing materials for different product lines, may be able to do custom marketing with co-op money, discounts, or raffle prizes
  • Lens Reps supply lens vouchers for raffle prizes and make themselves available at the show to answer questions on lenses
  • Outside vendors were contacted to do a pop-up show, Eye Designs had LuLaRoe and Stella Dot on site, Perfectly Posh and LuLaRoe contributed towards raffle prizes
  • Eye Designs teamed up with Art Force Iowa, a non-profit that helps troubled youth, for each State frame sold, $15 was donated to Art Force Iowa.  Marketing was created and sent out to both company's networks

6) Think Up a Marketing Package

  • Pick a name for the event
  • Eye Designs went with "One Sweet Deal"
  • Find a hashtag for the event #onesweetdeal #eyedesignsexperience
  • Eye Designs had large window clings, postcards, flyers, yard signs, email signatures, social media posts, email messages, and stickers created with a uniform design
  • Eye Designs used ADO Marketing solutions though Walman to design and print professional quality items
  • NO marketing was released until two weeks before the event.  This helped our daily numbers stay consistent and not drop for people that wanted to wait for the trunk show, they were told that at the trunk show they would could get 50% off a second pair

7) Make a Deal

  • The deal should only be good for the day of the show, only for the rep's frames
  • Find out what you can get from your reps that can get a great deal for the patients and a profit for you
  • A practice in Oakland, CA markets for Zeiss in exchange for free lenses for their patients that day
  • Eye Designs offered 50% off frames that day and 50% off second pairs
  • Don't forget to include *See optician for details*
  • ONLY honor the deal for what you are marketing
  • Raffle ticket for each purchase, select after the show and give prize at dispense


8) Plan Out Your Decorations and Spread

  • Eye Designs found great deals on donut themed decor at Target, Amazon, Nobbies, Party City and the Dollar Store
  • Put up a list in the break room with anything you need and see who can help out
  • Serving platters, tubs, tables, tablecloths, lights, etc.
  • Draw out where you will putting everything
  • What needs to be moved out that day
  • Are the tables too close for comfortable browsing?
  • Will the food area cause a disturbance in the flow of the practice?
  • Go visit other trunk shows! Scout out what others are doing, you might find some really great ideas! You may also find what you  absolutely don't want to happen at your show.  At one store, I wasn't even acknowledged past a "hello."  I browsed the frames for awhile, no rep was present, checked out the rest of the store, and left without being offered any of the treats they had laid out

9) Start Writing

  • Get themed thank you cards and invitation cards
  • Write out a thank you card to every rep that helped you out
  • Write invitations to your best customers. Eye Designs included an extra 10% off lenses that day for them AND a friend
  •  Send out the invitations a month before the event
  • Hand out the thank you cards the day of or mail them off
  • Create "Quick Order" sheets
  • Make it so any optician can pick up a tray and enter the job without knowing anything but what is written there
  • Designate special colored trays so everyone knows what jobs are trunk show jobs

10) Enjoy the Show!

  • Have everyone talk up the show, the whole office, make it a positive experience throughout the day
  • Invite people in for the treats, stay for the deals
  • Go Live on Facebook and Instagram
  • Post pictures of people and share them 
  • Restock treats, clean any messes, buy lunch for the reps and opticians
  • If you have a team of opticians, have on host the party and the others sell
  • Reps can help host the party, pick out frames, lenses, and coordinate what patient goes next to each optician, filling the opticians in on what lenses they discussed and what frames they choose

  There isn't one plan that will fit every office, but following these steps, Eye Designs had their most successful trunk show ever, ending at eight times their normal business for the day.  Do you have any tips on how you throw your trunk shows? Write in on our Facebook group "Iowa Opticians!"

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