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:
• 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.
• 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.