Winning Optical Retail Strategies

Eric Geiger owner/partner of Styleyes, Sacramento CA was our grand prize winner for “Helpful Comments”. We liked Eric’s market positioning – it is very “unique” and differentiates his eyecare business from other optical retailers especially chains. We asked him if we could interview him and share some of “winning optical retail strategies” and he kindly agreed.  Here is the interview:

Eric Geiger - Owner Styleyes

• As soon as I opened by optical retail business I introduced myself to all the local OD’s and let them know that I had lab experience and could service some of their more difficult customers and to send me problem patients. I also let them know that we have a very unique frame selection.

• Next, I went to hair salons and offered the staff a 20% discount. I did this because hair stylists have lots of influence with their customers and I knew that if they were wearing my eyewear I would get referrals from them. I also went to the local trendy restaurants and made the same offer as the staff wait on a lot of potential eyewear customers every day. It is a win win for everybody as these type of employees do not usually have any kind of vision insurance and the discount is a big help to them. These optical consumers also desire more hip and unique eyewear.

• We recently invested in developing an excellent website, with much better SEO than before and we have noticed a big difference in traffic. We also get a lot of people from Yelp and realize that Yelp optical reviews have a big influence.

Styleyes Sacramento, CA

• Word of mouth is very important and that means more than having different products. We don’t just provide great customer service we do more in terms of our knowledge and service. We allow our clients to take frames home to show friends and family, we will order a frame in different colors so they can see it and try it. We always call back after a week to check in, maybe something isn’t quite right, we want our customers to 100% satisfied.

OVS: What made you decide to include an anti-reflective coating on all lenses?

I really believe in anti-reflective lens coats but I know that many people don’t like being told that there will be additional charges. We find it is better to include it up front along with a 2 year warranty. We do not overcharge for it and make sure we use a high quality coating e.g Zeiss .

OVS: What are your biggest challenges?

• Some customers have the wrong price expectations at the beginning. Sometimes they expect us to be over priced because of our “boutique” image. But we help them to do their own price checks and comparisons so that they understand what we are providing and usually they see that we are great value and very price competitive. Sometimes it helps to use the Yugo vs BMW analogy as we only provide high performance optical products.

• As far as progressive lenses we like to keep our optical customers in the same brand even if we move them into an updated design. We do a lot of Hoya and Zeiss lenses as well as other brands.

• Growing the business but keeping the same quality and standards is the biggest challenge.

OVS: What would you like to see from your optical vendors to help you compete more effectively?

• We would like our vendors to be a little more proactive e.g. suggest exchanging out certain products rather than waiting for us to ask

• Not to make an eyeglass frame available online at a lower price than it is sold at retail.

Thank you to Eric for being so candid and generous sharing his winning optical retail strategies.

 

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Comments

  1. Bravo Eric! Great ideas and love the fact you’re proactive with them. Going out into the community and offering the “connectors” (hair stylists, wait staff, etc) an incentive to refer customers your way is simple brilliance at it’s best. Congratulations and wishing you continued success!
    Robert Bell
    EyeCoach

  2. I obviously don’t know all of the entries in “Winning Optical Retail Strategies;” but I can see a well thought out stratagem. Nothing that you have set forth is in any way wrong. The one problem is that with the success that you will achieve, will you be able to remain firm with your precepts? As you grow, and grow you most certainly will, will you remember everything that you have enunciated. People have done or tried to do many of those items whose tenets you have spoken.
    One bit of advise, study what you have written, read it several times a day, compose music to it, or steal someone else’s music, so that it remains in the forefront of your mind, teach it to everyone who works with you and when you bring in someone new make them sing it,too…Daily.
    I used to do a number of these things, and as Europtics became larger, we forgot what we were about. and we suffered for it.

    “To thine one self be true, and then it shall follow, as the night the day, though canst not then be false to any man.” Hamlet.

  3. Though doth spout good advice! Many thanks to thee!

  4. The originating article was superb. Eric has obviously embraced the true entrepreneurial spirit and run with it. Connecting with visible influencers and treating the “competition” as colleagues rather than adversaries are attributes of winners. As I travel the world connecting with outstanding operators, I see common threads. Meshing with the community in both creative ways is one of the many things every market leader has in common. I have also been impressed by programs that let the hairdresser/stylist earn a store credit ($50–$75) for every customer they refer.
    Just when I thought it could not get much better, I read Ira’s sage wisdom. Reading his profoundly spot on advice was like hearing from the bard on the
    hill. Magic! Thank you for the reminder Mr. Haber.
    Thank you Shirley and Cathy for your continued excellence.